I’ve heard from Josh that the correctional facility is now going to keep a much closer eye on who he communicates with. This may mean that I can no longer send him notes, or may not receive notes from him, especially if they’re blog posts. In the meantime, some of the folks at the benefit wrote messages for me to mail to Josh, and I’m going to archive them here in case they don’t reach him:
Say Hey to Josh!
- Hey Josh! Love and bullets. S______
- Don’t drop the soap. J__
- Dear Josh, Hang in there. You have ardent supporters on The Outside. We are legion and our cause is just. Don’t let them intimidate you. Valiant video bloggers rule! C______ A_____
- Josh my friend, I miss our late night AIM conversations. I miss your wit. I miss your passion. I admire your courage. Let me know how I can help. B____ S______
- Dear Josh, I don’t know you but hi. I’ll go home and blog all about it! Courage, dude! Eloquence deserts me even though I write all the fucking time. It’s this “paper” thing. Paper — WTF? L__ H____
After the jump, I’ve also typed up some passages from personal letters he’s sent me since I didn’t get a chance to read them at the benefit. I also post them because due to a change in the way they are handling Josh’s media interaction, I may not receive another note.
While it was quite small and very informal, my blogger-focused benefit for Josh Wolf was certainly a success. We raised over $200 towards his defense fund, and that was just the cash donations. It may not sound like much, but it represents a significant portion towards his monthly rent on an apartment he didn’t even get a chance to pack up and sublet before being shipped to the slammer. More importantly, the donations represent the will of Josh’s newsmaker peers. The justice department is no match for a legion of journalists armed with wit and small-denomination bills.
The reality is that Josh’s case probalby won’t be heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and even if it is, he probably won’t be granted bail pending a decision. The justice department made a decision, and that decision was to ignore local investigations and jurisdiction by instigating a grand jury on specious grounds. They hope to smear and intimidate any activists or journalists who participated in or covered last year’s G8 protests. They can’t understand that someone like Josh would choose jail over complicity, and while their case rests on a solid legal foundation, they’ve already lost in the court of public opinion.
As I explained to those who asked, my main concern about the case — besides my personal feelings as Josh’s friend — is that it sets a precedent by which federal courts can compel any American to turn over written, recorded, photographed or filmed documents raw and in their entirety. That would make everyone with a pen, camera, microphone or camcorder an extension of the surveillance machine. Yes, if Josh witnessed a crime, he was legally required to report it. But he gave his word that he didn’t, offered to let the judge confirm that the video tape in question had no relevant evidence, and frankly, is the real reason this grand jury was convened. Alberto Gonzalez could give half a fuck that some police officer was injured. The reason he acquiesced to this trial is because he wants to secure subpoena power in federal court over any and all citizen-produced media.
So yeah, I understand that Josh is basically fighting a lost cause. And I understand that the legal precedent being set by his case actually puts fellow journalists in more risk. But his civil disobedience has succeeded in bringing together journalists and writers from across the political specturm, and has inspired goverment officials from San Francisco to Sacramento to press for changes in how the law treats journalists. And ultimately, it’s raised the question of how we are and aren’t protected by the 1st Amendment in this golden age of new media technology. For that alone, Josh should make the history books.
So thanks again to everyone who came out tonight, those who donated, and those who are just keeping an eye on the story because they realize that their own freedoms are at stake.
Stylish and well-designed flyer by an unknown supporter.
So I just got my second letter from Josh Wolf, who’s still detained at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin. His first letter, a reply to a note I’d sent him, actually seemed upbeat, and said that he was prepared to “go grey” behind bars if necessary.
The latest letter was actually a blog post that he asked me to type up and publish. This is the second message he’s gotten up using the post office, and would love to get mail. He’s expressed an interest in starting an organization to help prisoners maintain blogs using the mail. Anyway, typing up his letter was the least I could do.
In San Francisco,
Geeks and freaks are cheek to jowl,
but no less lonely.
George Kelly has announced that the polls have officially opened for a public referendum to decide the annual query, “Who are the best black bloggers?” Of course, I’ll basically be voting for my personal friends whenever I can, but even if you don’t have any black friends, or do but none of them blog, then here’s your chance to encounter some new voices. I, for one, am going to have my cursor poised over my “Subscribe to Bloglines” button while researching the candidates under consideration.
Like any other group that doesn’t have the demographic advantage white men like me do on the innerwebs, the community often empowers itself by consciously developing a niche community related to their identity, while simultaneously becoming a part of many other niches that have nothing to do with their cultural surroundings. I have friends who blog about wine, technology, journalism, music, politics, television, all of the above and among other interests, but few black bloggers I know don’t participate in, observe from silently and from afar, or otherwise study and contribute to the conversation amongst the black community online and at large.
I’d like to put in a good word for Mr. Kelly, who if I’m not mistaken is a previous award winner. Regardless, I didn’t even know what to call myself before I found his blog. “Wannabe” was the first label, later “Whigger” (which I’ll still cop to, because when tipsy and around other ‘folks,’ I’ll reveal my poor, activist, multi-culti patois from my youth spent in South Central daycare centers and South Seattle schoolyards). For a while, I just said, “I’m an Africana Studies minor,” figuring that sounded respectful and sophisticated.
But thanks to George, now I’m a proud “Negrophile,” which has all the class of loftier academic titles, with the added advantage of being both mellifluous and subversive if used as an sincere honorriffic (as opposed to its roots as a more genteel variant on “Nigger Lover,” which I’ll also accept, though very rarely is it contextually appropriate).
Also, George has participated on a panel I organized and moderated, was sincerely interested in my recommendation for the nearest good eats to the Brooklyn Museum (a now extinct place that served excellent curry goat over rice and peas), sang the falsetto to my cover for my lame attempt as the bass for our karaoke duet of “Walk on By,” and otherwise rocks on key all the time like only my favorite people can.
Josh Wolf is a Bay Area journalist who was imprisoned for refusing to cooperate with the federal grand jury and turn over video footage that wouldn’t have even necessarily been relevant to their case.
Why does this matter to you? Because it means even journalist and citizen could potentially be legally compelled to aid in surveillance of political activity. Because journalists, artists and bloggers have the right to take private notes and recordings in order to cover events and craft stories. And because an attack on Josh is an attack on freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
Josh needs help with his legal bills and rent. Booze and music will be on hand, you just need to show up and support Josh. It’s the patriotic thing to do.
Thursday, August 24th (tentative), 7:00pm
House of Shields
39 New Montgomery Street, San Francisco
Free booze and great music.
Okay, so I just went through and reorganized my feed reader for the first time in ages. If you’d like to see what I’m reading, then check out the list over at Bloglines or download my OPML file. 505 feeds! That’s a ridiculous number, and most of the organization is meant to alleviate some of the stress of keeping up with all that.
But as with anything in my life, I’m not very good at moderation or setting limits. So please, send me links to your favorite blogs (or just leave them in the comments)! I’m especially interested in blogs about art, music, video and the like. Also, if you read my blog and you blog yourself, send me a link to that. I make no pretentions to the blogosphere being anything but a giant circle-jerk.