It seems a controversy has broken out at Blue Mass Group as to whether it is okay to give convicted felons access to the blogosphere. I didn’t create the account or do the posting. I didn’t even know about it until I saw it (briefly) last night and this morning. But I will add my two cents. I’ll start by pointing out that LaGuer’s thoughts and perspectives on a wide variety of subjects have been widely published in the mainstream media. So my question would have to be, are blogs a special case where the gatekeepers are obligated to err on the side of limiting free speech?
Not long ago the editors at HarperCollins, hardly a fringe operation, saw fit to include an piece of LaGuer’s writing in a collection of essays called “The Bastard on the Couch….” Reviewers at the New York Daily News, CBS, Slate (to name a few), and more than a dozen netizen critics at Amazon.com commented on the book and narry an eyebrow was lifted about the contribution from a convicted felon.
You can read LaGuer’s essay (reproduced with permission of the book’s editor) at BenLaGuer.com. Speaking of the Web site I’ve been maintaining since 2003. It caused consternation in the form of a Boston Herald article when it first went up. How could a convict get access to the Web?, was the anguished question.
It never ceases to amaze me how people who otherwise proclaim themselves to be for all things good instinctively move to tell the disenfranchised to shut the hell up. The fact is that LaGuer’s letters to the editor have appeared in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and the Valley Advocate just within the last few months. Several of his columns have been published in Worcester Magazine and he once had a feature article in Boston Magazine on a day in the life of a prisoner. He won a first place PEN award that also appeared in a bound volume. They all appeared under his byline without reference to who approved or edited them. Pardon me for being a bit cynical about this, but it is distressing to see an otherwise useful blog turned into a gutless forum where anonymous posters get to shout down content that they don’t like. Think about that next time you bash the MSM for lack of intestinal fortitude.