On social media conflagrations.
OK. Yesterday, I was writing about the moral legitimacy of a particular trademark. Understandably, there has been a social media firestorm over this issue, as people feel that their contributions have been marginalized. In return, the owner of the trademarks has issued a press release accusing the bloggers of the community of being “slanderous” and “malicious,” and claiming that the whole issue is based on a misunderstanding and rumours.
As happens in these situations, the rhetoric keeps climbing, with some people ‘armed for bear’, seeking not only to restore the common use of the phrase urban homesteading, but to punish the Dervaes family. They really have been called all kinds of names, and some people have suggested a global boycott of their websites. Also, some of their… um. Let’s say, odder/adamant beliefs have been called into question.
So, in the midst of the conflagration, it is important to see the trees and the forest. I understand how, when we are angry, we sometimes want to destroy the object of our anger. But that is not constructive, and I, for one, would like to be very clear about my desires and goals. I do not want the Dervaes family destroyed, put out of business, or even maligned. Even though they implied that as a blogger, I was unconcerned with the truth… and that pisses me off a bit. You know. Just a bit.
I think that the analysis of the moral right of the Dervaes family to be the sole beneficiaries of the work of a movement is a perfectly legitimate part of discourse. The textual analysis of the documents being produced by the Dervaes family – also legitimate. Calling for their obliteration? Over the top. Expressing frustration that they don’t seem to be able to see that other people have contributed? Totally fair.
Unfortunately, they have lumped together all legitimate discussion into the category of unprovoked attack: “there has been a heated argument in the media against what should have been the Dervaeses’ normal rights to protect their trademarks.” Actually, what has been primarily up for debate isn’t whether they have a right to protect their trademarks. It is whether they had the right to register those trademarks in the first place. It is this claim in the press release that is in question: “While they did not come up with the name Urban Homesteading®, they defined its current, specific application.”
Then they have grouped us all together into a massive uninformed blob: “Whereas professional reporters substantiate their news before publishing stories and are careful not to make slanderous statements, bloggers have no editors and often demonstrate little or no interest in supporting their claims with fact.” I, for one, spent about 10 hours yesterday looking at the language of the letter that they sent, researching trademark laws and the in and outs, checking the stories out and double checking. I stand by my work.