March 11, 2008
Blocked again: a blessing?
My personal blog, Secret Dubai diary, has been blocked once again by the UAE state censors. Etisalat, the TRA, the Dishdashes-That-Be: they are all the government, so it makes little difference who actually actioned this. Like the last time this happened, in July 2001, there has been no correspondence of any kind from UAE officials, no warning or request to remove content, and no reason given for the blocking.
Back then, my policy was to keep my head down and be ultra careful about posts and user comments for some time. I always had been careful, and my blog contained no "obscene" material and minimal direct criticism of the UAE or Dubai governments, which is probably why after some arcane internal review, it was unblocked.
This time? Two years have passed, little has changed in the UAE in terms of media freedoms, human rights and general government accountability, so my attitude is no longer to hold my head down. Now that the offenderati element can no longer see my blog, I feel even more liberated to start writing about the issues I want to write about, no holds barred.
There are of course dozens of different ways that my blog can be accessed within the UAE: in the freezones, through its mirror, through VPNs and proxy bypasses, and a multitude of RSS readers. And outside the UAE it is of course 100% accessible. Local traffic may drop off a bit, but since the blog has never been a commercial operation (its Google ads make about $5 on a good month) it's no great loss.
So any victory for the pro-censors and the offenderati must be a rather Pyrrhic one. Ultimately the blocking is to my advantage: the stupiderati are now unable to see what I write, and will no longer pollute my posts with their sad, brainwashed, ill-educated cretinry.
Let them dance on my grave, for I am alive and well with newly-sharpened quill behind the proxy curtain.
Posted by secretdubai at March 11, 2008 09:41 PM
Filed Under: Press Freedom
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Sad that you have been blocked. Sadder still to see that you have fallen to a highly honed sense of your own importance in the matter. You can stab away with your 'newly-sharpened quill' all you like: anonymous, shrill and, to many, offensive, your little corner of cyberspace is often deeply counterproductive to any sensibility that desires true movement forward in the process of media freedom. As long as you remain 'anonymous', you remain marginal. Particularly when your posts are merely insulting to those in authority rather than positing any form of intellectual challenge.
Sorry. That's just the way it is. You do need either to give this all up or put your head above the parapet and stand up - in public - for your so strongly expressed views.
Posted by: alexander at March 12, 2008 02:36 PM
Eh,what the bloody fuck are you on about mate?
While I know Secret personally, years back really, the bloody UAE censorship is complete bollocks even by regional standards (but then so is Dubai's pretencions).
True movement? What the bloody fuck is true movement?
More bloody semi-polite moudjemelat for the enlightened corruption in Dubai? Intellectual challenge? What kind of stupid motherfucking whanker are you mate? Are you so bloody dim to believe that "intellectual challenge" has any bloody fucking thing to do with UAE actions?
Good bloody fucking prophets mate, you've lived in the region doubtless as long as I - but perhaps too bloody long in UAE / Khalije land. I personally (no offence Secret) find some things she writes boring, but to block those trivialities? That's pure idiocy, and frankly only indicative of the primative mentalities in the Khalije relative to the rest of MENA. As they say in the Grand Maghreb, Khlijine, djoudj sifr. Double Zeros, the Gulf.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at March 12, 2008 03:28 PM
"Sadder still to see that you have fallen to a highly honed sense of your own importance in the matter. "
What a bizarre accusation - I think it says more about you than about me, and for that I feel rather sorry for you. You cannot be unaware that there are countless valid, even sensible reasons for any UAE blogger to remain anonymous, not least to protect their own employers which has always been a key motivation for me.
I know that you yourself are prolific in writing various columns and commentary under your own name. Great that you have the freedom to do it, but to accuse someone else of self importance is just misguided and frankly absurd.
Saying I "need to give it all up" suggests that I (a) have some kind of mission and (b) that mission is failing. I don't have an agenda. I just blog. I rant/ridicule/comment/question, write about quirky stuff that amuses me and may amuse others.
Posted by: secretdubai at March 12, 2008 04:16 PM
"true movement forward in the process of media freedom"
Well there's nothing like applauding the crass censorship of another to help move that process forward.
Posted by: matthew hogan at March 12, 2008 10:46 PM
What enlightened, and enlightening responses! I didn't applaud the block, I happen to be strongly against it: I'm with Voltaire on that one.
I'm off to some more productive stuff than stay and prolong what so quickly turned into an unpleasant little exchange. But thank you for the reasoned responses. I think, to quote, they say more about you than me.
Posted by: alexander at March 12, 2008 11:46 PM
You are indeed a whanker.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at March 13, 2008 12:02 PM
It is, indeed, an ill wind that blows nobody good.
It is years now that you've been darkly hinting at surrealistic stupidities that you dared not chronicle. So I guess Dubai's loss is my gain.
I avidly await your first instalment. Please start with a "greatest hits" series of things you would have liked to write over the last several years but were afraid to.
Posted by: Anonymous at March 13, 2008 10:17 PM