When the “Chill” Sets in

    March 3, 2007

What does a blogger, vlogger, or podcaster do when the “chill” sets in?

That chill can be a lot worse in some parts of the world than others.

Egyptian blogger Abdel Karim Nabil Suleiman has been jailed for his sustained critique of government policies and his educational institution, among other things, on his blog. Mr. Suleiman called for his former Islamic school (he had been expelled) to become a secular institution, and posted on his blog a “pledge to defend Arab and Muslim women against discrimination,” according to a Globe and Mail report by Carolynne Wheeler.

Dissent blogs are a growing story in Egypt. Some, like this one, show evidence of police abuse.

In seemingly less contentious nations, we aren’t generally jailed for what we write. Because it’s so easy to seem controversial without actually ever taking a chance, it’s also easy to forget that taking a real stand, even a small one, involves a measure of courage.

From time to time I make a mistake – who doesn’t? And more often than some would like, I post or broadcast something a little bit frivolous – maybe even stupid. I’m sometimes guilty of having too much fun, being unprofessional, etc.

That someone is willing to go to jail for the right to expose abuse and discrimination is a reminder of just how easy some of us have it, relatively speaking.

But it also makes me think twice of censoring myself after the fact if someone writes to tell me I’ve done something stupid, told a racy joke, or laughed a little too loud. Because, in part, it’s not being afraid of who you are, is what we’re fighting for, isn’t it? The “big chills” are truly frightening. But it’s insidious when we let the “little chills” get to us, too. A loss of a few advertiser dollars, or a naysaying voice or two, is far from being jailed – so maybe it’s a reminder to thicken the skin and to not be too apologetic based on the fear of someone wagging their finger, or of a loss of $218.94 in banner revenue.

Break a few eggshells today.


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