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In the United States, bloggers can, pretty much, write freely. In some parts of the world, blogging can cost you your job, your freedom, or even your life. That’s what’s happening to Gaurav Sabnis. And while I am late to this issue, I’m writing about it now because it deserves much wider attention.
Writing on his personal blog, Gaurav Sabnis, of Mumbai, India, who was employed by IBM, linked from his blog (not a corporate blog) to an article that criticized The Indian Institute of Planning and Management, (II PM) an engineering school, and set off a firestorm. He didn’t write the article. He linked to it. He added some comments that might have been kinda rude, but they didn’t seem actionable. He got a cease and desist letter, demanding that he take his post down, and like many a blogger, laughed and posted it on his site.
The Issue Gets Deadly Serious
Then it got serious, noted India Uncut, IIPM happens to be a client of IBM, Gaurav’s employer, and purchased a huge bunch of laptops from them. (In fact, IIPM is a company with serious money clout, and one of the biggest advertisers in India.) Students at IIPM threatened to burn their Think Pads in front of IBM’s offices to protest Guarav’s blog posts. Yeah, that’s right, burn them.
That, Guarav felt, left him two choices: delete his posts and apologize, or resign from IBM. He resigned. What would you do?
I’m with Glenn Reynolds, who was surprised that IBM accepted his resignation. I would have expected them to stand up for freedom of speech and for their employee. But that’s not how it happened.
Guarav Falls on His Sword
As IBM blogger Sher Taton pointed out, “I’m not sure what to make of it other than to say it looks like he really fell on his sword.”
Guarav wrote: “You know, we bloggers are always writing about principles, about freedom of speech, about standing up for what we believe in, for the truth. It’s very easy to write all that. But here I’m being tested on those principles in real life. If I don’t stand by those principles now, I will lose all respect for myself.”
Technorati clocks 894 posts on the topic. It’s been blogged about on Instapundit and round the world. But it hasn’t become a mainstream issue. And that’s a damn shame. Because Guarav is every blogger who believes in freedom and telling the truth. And who is willing to stand along because of his beliefs. He’s going to stand trial, and he’s going to have legal fees to pay. I’m sure he’ll land a job very soon and I hope his new employer believes in freedom of speech and puts it first before the almighty dollar.
Read more: Global Voices, Chocolate and Gold Coins