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An Open Letter to Demian Bulwa at the Chronicle

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 8 months ago

An Open Letter to Demian Bulwa at the Chronicle

 

Originial Article: Blogger stays in prison, defying grand jury order

 

On October 16th, Demian Bulwa at the San Francisco Chronicle published an article about my case. He wrote to me in prison and asked me what my impressions of his article were. What follows is the letter I sent him.

 

Dear Demian,

 

Thank you for sending me the article clipping and requesting my feedback. My only real complaint is the secondary headline, but I do realize that you likely had no say in that. By stating “Anarchist says he did not film attack on police officer,” I feel that the Chronicle does a disservice to its readers in two ways. For one, by shifting the subject to the injured officer, the headline neglects the fact that the subject of the grand jury investigation is the alleged attempted arson of an SFPD patrol vehicle and not the alleged assault.

 

This shift of focus to an injured member of the SFPD coupled with the term “anarchist” creates the impression that I am likely lying — which your own reportage describes as “an assertion that appears to be consistent with the police reports”. Furthermore, as I mentioned in our interview, we offered to screen the footage in-camera for Judge Alsop in an effort to verify, without a doubt, that I neither filmed the alleged assault nor the incident that is the subject of the Federal investigation.

 

Instead, the chosen headline evokes the assassination of William McKinley and other violent acts perpetuated by people who identified as anarchists. It sensationalizes the issue and suggests distrust where a more balanced headline would not.

 

Beyond the wording of the headline, I have few issues with the article you wrote. I feel that your choice of leads, “Blogger and anarchist…” is an attempt to sensationalize the issue, like the headline, and would be no more appropriate than pointing out that a journalist covering Palestine happens to identify as Muslim. This is especially true given that the word “anarchist” carries a diversity of meanings; it’s the sort of word I feel shouldn’t be used without a definition attached. To me, your syntax here demonstrates my thesis that there is an effort to deamonize and discredit anarchism in much the same way as the campaign against communism throughout the Cold War.

 

The quotation you used from my blog is essentially accurate but may be taken somewhat out of context in that the “actions” referenced are the petty vandalism that occured and not the alleged assault of Officer Peter Shields. It is also important to keep in mind that the statement was made over a year ago, shortly after the demonstration occured.

 

Additionally, it seems worth mentioning that although FBI spokesman Joseph Schadler’s suggestion that there is “a huge difference in finding potential witnesses from a fishing expedition for anarchists” may be true; the one does not preclude the other. Nothing in the article attributed to the FBI suggests that the FBI is not using this excuse as an opportunity to simultaneously gather broad intelligence on those participating in civil dissent and those who identify as anarchists.

 

The only other matter that I feel needs to be clarified is that of my project, which will help facilitate prisoners to blog. I do not want to “create a blog for prisoners” but am instead working to develop an organization that will allow those incarcerated to create and maintain their own blogs; the difference is subtle but significant.

 

Although this letter may seem quite critical of your coverage, I’m actually quite impressed with the depth of your report and appreciate your efforts to utilize a broad spectrum of sources to establish a comprehensive picture of the issues involved.

 

I look forward to your furture coverage of this case and encourage you to respond to this correspondence. I have decided to post this letter to my blog alongside a link to your article. If you do have an opportunity to respond, please let me know what, if anything, I can post on my site and I will gladly respect what you request.

 

Thanks again for the coverage,

 

Josh

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