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Cyberdissident Shi Tao is not a Decapitating Murderer: Why Yahoo! Should have been raked over with Hot Coals..

Zhong Guo Middle Kingdom

Someone asked me to comment on an argument that Yahoo! Should not have been "raked over hot coals" due to the fact, abetting in placing journalist Shi Tao in jail for a decade in a Chinese jail is simply "following the law." I think he asked because I was a researcher and consultant on the story for Reporters Without Borders, therefore I feel I must answer to a (indirect non-personal) critic.

The argument go something like this:

If some murderer had put the head of a girl in a box (so pretty!!) it would be morally repugnant yahoo! would hide information and the identity of the perpetrator because it protects one of its customers.

For one that's stupid. No one is raking Yahoo! For helping the Communist government put a serial child murderer in jail. If this was the case Yahoo! would be lauding itself with press releases galore, applauding itself, and bowing to headlines like "Yahoo! solves murder case with small lead on its email!" Accolade will fall and it wouldn't matter if the company helped put that person in jail in Ireland, Hong Kong or Thailand or any far off yahoo offices in the world. Everyone will love Yahoo!

For two Shi Tao has nothing to do with violent crime.

Reporters Without Borders and many of the news stories alluded to one very important fact. Yahoo! Cn shares management with Yahoo! HK whom are not under the jurisdiction of China. The management in Hong Kong who are currently being held responsible were not under the jurisdiction of Chinese law. Not to mention a NASDAQ listed company is under many other bindings outside of the Chinese law. Say for example public opinion and opinions of their share holders in the free world.

China puts dissidents in jail. We know that. Hong Kong companies helping China, when they are not legally bound. We didn't know that. American companies helping China put journalists in jail. We didn't know that, and it's upsetting for many Americans and other people around the world because they believe companies who flourish due to "American Freedoms,"  should not be helping repressive regimes do their dirty work.

They feel outrage due to a concept called, "Corporate Responsibility," which operates outside the law of any national borders.

Using child labour is "legal" in "some" parts of South East Asia. It's not in America.

Does that mean Nike should be allowed to give children US5 cents and hour a day to make US$150 sneakers for American children because they were born in a place that's got labour laws?

It is legal to throw unrefined oil down the drain and then execute environmentalists who try to expose and fight against such actions in Nigeria.

Does that mean Shell should have gotten away without a press mention in being the driving force behind "legally" murder three activists?


Groups were able to expose such wretched behavior by getting news organizations to report it. People protested, consumers had the right to change their minds, and those companies were well deserved to find their "Consumer Standing" plummet among socially conscious people around the world.

Underlying those said processes are the tenants of free press,the tenants of free market.

NGOs, journalists, normal human beings can expose and say what they want about a company or a person, a government, or an organization as long as it's true, and the consuming public under the law of demand and supply, pressure groups, public opinions can and is allowed to either reward or punish behavior it likes or don't like.

Arguing against those processes that allowed Yahoo! to be publicly bashed in news organizations around the world is like arguing for the other team, which puts journalists in jail for saying things they don't like.

Not to mention Government are often raked over for violating human rights even if it's LAW in that said country.

Stone a woman to death for having a child out of wedlock make headlines. To hell with the fact it's an ancient tradition and by law of the state as well.

Putting a man in jail for having thoughts that not in line with the government should make headlines because it's a violation of human rights. The government can hide behind the fact it's the "law" of the country. That does not mean it gets a free pass.

People tend not to go around saying, "I don't see why China has to be raked over hot coals because putting Hong Kong journalists in jail by falsely accusing them of spying is right because it's the law of the said country."

In that case why should Yahoo! Not have to suffer the reporting and backlash of a very true action they made because it's the law of the said country?

Human dignity and Freedoms is universal. It cannot and should not be confined to jurisdictions of the state and whims of corporations.

The question should be why are countries and companies not held more accountable in terms of social, environmental, political problems they propagate? NGOs, activists, religious organizations and academics are trying to change that very slowly and with much work..  

No one purposely targeted Yahoo! It's the "unfortunate" truth that they were the first to be asked or at least the first to be found out. Sina, goggle, msn, and ALL isps in the world probably will have done the same.


Is it because they truly don't believe in free speech and want to help curb the concept of dissent?


It's because it was the simplest thing to do, and most likely they probably did not even know what the information was going to be used for.

But does that mean they are not responsible for their actions?

Of course not.

Does that mean that NGOs and press don't have the right to expose violations of free speech and human rights or any abdominal behavior if the law allows it?  That argument could probably grind the news machine to a screeching halt. Imagine a world where no more outrageous stories of high profile breaks up of celebrities since divorce is legal and adultery is as well?

Shocking! People should not be outrage. It's not against the law!

Not to mention one small press release in conjunction with the follow up of the news media plus public awareness made Chinese Censorship a "hot" story. Propelling a small print "extra" into a front page story. It made people who previously was unaware that American companies are behind "The Great Firewall," know it is going on.

This won't make the CCP free Shi Tao or any of the other cyber dissidents but one thing for sure, with the world's eyes watching it will make all the difference in the treatment of one man in jail.



why don't you stop being so armchair and go to Tianamen and state your case?

armchair or not. speech is speech. it's free and it has meaning. please don't bring your sloppy politically correct ideology to the bargaining table...


'don't be so armchair' I love that turn of phrase!


What the hell are you talking about.

You think you're so smart but I don't have a clue what your point is.

Free speech is of course important and speech is speech, indeed what can it be otherwise?

I don't partcularly want to go to jail. You see, being in jail for me serves no purpose because while I am in jail "the speech" the is "speech" cannot be spoken.

I can bring whatever ideologoy I can to the bargaining table.

At least I bring a resume of activism to my point of view.

What's yours?

You are really opinionated and have possibly alienated lots of people around you even maybe you're actually really smart and should be listenned to if only you didn't have such a gruff and cryptic way of making your points?



maybe i should go to charm school.

hey, don't fence me in. i'll say what i want to say.

democracy is a lost cause. many people think that democracy just means being free. it's so much more. going to jail is part of democracy, and more people in china have to do it.

so many people here are afraid of stepping on toes, and they explain away the natural spirit of humanity by saying its' not in chinese culture to be aggressive.

hey, gruff or otherwise, i am at liberty to be that way. i don't like how you pretend to be a a very free minded democracy pundit but like people to love you.

democracy is not iconography.

please, release yourself from the tension of wanting to be appreciated and recognized. who cares about you?

democracy is about US!

Long live Hong Kong and the spirit of the opoloy!


and by the way, why is it that Long Hair can say what he wants to say and Baswizzle cannot?

I am just as good as long hair, and attractive and I have just as many girlfriends!


Yeah, you have just as many girlfriend because you're a white guy in asia. Lets be honest here.... (not a dig at your natural charm and personal behavoir of course!)

You can say what you want. I didn't say you couldn't. I didn't tell you to go away or shut up. I asked you to continue speaking at each juncture. I just also have the right to disagree with you.

You don't have to care about me. My mom does. My Cat does. My friends. My man. My dad. my Brother.. and even some readers of Glutter and the people who I help with my art and politics do.

So who cares? They do.

And whether you like it or not.

I do.

i like myself and I apreciate the work I do and am really really happy I have been reconized. I have NO SHAME in admitting that. It's not what I did that for but I am happy that I am. Why? because it means that what I do has some value. Because I am not shouting in a void begging people to listen to me because what I believe is really important.

And hey, my dad called today to tell me he was proud of me. For the longest time he thought I was nutsy doing this blog.

Now that's really nice. Why can't a girl gloat a little?

I am not sure why there is tension between "Appreciated and Reconized" they are pretty much on the same coin. See what I mean about your being difficult to understand?

But more and more importantly the only person who is willing to go to Jail is Long hair. You know the person you called an idiot? Well he's willing to do what you don't want to do but will never because you don't stick your neck out. I do but avoid the border so it never happens. (the ex deputy commissioner of the police told me not to take risks...as a prominant SCMP journalist. I figure they know what they are talking about. )

So why is it that Cheung Mao has my respect and not yours??

Re: Chinese culture is not agressive and don't want to step on toes.


I thought we had a whole dynasty called the "Waring States" until Emperor Qin made us a unified country. I thought we were the culture to create the book called art of war? I thought we were the country to have two major political revolutions. Once against the emperor, once for the communist government, plus one cultural revolution and a smaller but memorable democratic movment within one century? That's a lot of toes being stepped.


As I said, You don't know my history very well do you?



I know the KMT pretty well, and they got kicked out by mao and the other liberators.

but what happened then?

you did.

and what are you going to do?

i think i know about sticking my neck out. who are you talking to anyway?

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