Global Voices Network & The Blog Posting that Gets You Arrested

Apparently Global Voices Network (which is the brainchild of Rebecca MacKinnon and the Berkman Center) has gained enough critical mass to be interesting. When a scandal of the week emerges in a country you’ve never heard of, GVN lets you filter blogosphere by country. Useful, although still too unfocused to be readable.

It’s really hard to keep up with international politics without suffering from information overload. Still, it is nice to have projects like this trying to aggregate information that is hard for American bloggers to access.

MacKinnon writes about the detention of a writer/blogger/filmmaker. Hey, that could be me! I had been reading several of his posts, noting the gap of time since the last post. I suppose detention is a pretty good excuse. (Here’s a longer profile of the affair).

Two posts that really have not much to do about politics: reminiscing about an old high school teacher , why it is hard to give tips to waitstaff. Here’s him holding the boom mike for Nicole Kidman:

It’s got to be the 10th take now of another long difficult dialogue scene. I’m kneeling right in front of the female lead and holding the gun mic up to collect her sound. I can see the veins on her arm and the creases around her wrists.
It feels weird to be so close to a famous star. As if I’m intruding on the mysterious aurora the celebrities have been so carefully cultivating and guarding. Up close, they are just like anybody else, stripped off the effects of camera lighting, engineered smiles and scripted interviews.
I stare at her. She’s having difficulty finishing a long line. She curses with the F word and then giggles. The director comes and whispers into her ears.
She must have suffered a lot in her own way, and now she’s reaping millions of dollars in return. I wonder what her lifestyle is like, living from one party to the next in the Hollywood hills, around glamorous people.
I feel so keenly aware of both the similarities and differences between us. Everywhere I look I see these similarities and differences – the Beijingers vs the migrant workers from the countryside, the Western vs Chinese crew, the stars vs the “normal” people.
I also feel keenly aware that the position I’m in looks like I’m kneeling in front of a pedestal of a star and worshipping her.

More seriously, here’s the blogpost (or at least the actions described therein) that resulted in his imprisonment:

(The policeman says,) “I’m not here to expel the group. I just want to warn you about the illegality of gathering here,” he proclaimed with an aloofness which could be interpreted as a threat or mere bureaucratic perfunctoriness. No, the group countered – it’s you who’d barged into a private premise illegally with no warrant or permit.

He then asked to see everyone’s ID. The group responded no again – China’s law stipulates that the citizens be required to show their IDs only to those with court warrant.

The brown-coat man’s cool peeled off, layer by layer, with each argument he lost. He checked around for a target. Then he saw me.

“What are you filming?” he yelled, “you are invading my image rights.”

“Hey, I’m doing a private video on this church. You came into this picture yourself.” I answered half-heartedly. As a huge fan of the rule of law and the courtroom dramas in the US Supreme Court, I wondered if indeed I was invading on his image rights.

“Turn it off, damn it.” With that he took hold of my camera, “I want you to erase the part with me in it.”

I hold on to my camera. Is that a reasonable request? But those are my good shots! The group showered him again with more legal enlightenment – as a public employee working for the government, cops don’t have image rights.