This is to answer the emails I received regarding why some of my posts from my last trip to Africa were removed. I'd like to start by saying that this blog started as a way to communicate with my friends and family, and for my friends (the scoobs) to stay in touch and share thoughts with each other. Basically, it was a private place that was open to the public if they (you) wanted to read it. In fact, what I enjoy most is the responses I get from those I don't know. Logging on here and finding out that someone from another state, or country has bothered to read my posts and then taken the time to comment on them means a lot to me.
In the last two years, primarily due to the massive role the new google changes have had on the internet, the "private" aspect of the blog has decreased and the public awareness of my little spot on the web has increased dramatically, as evidenced when someone found me when searching for Tripoli, Libya, and later published my post all over the web, garnishing massive response to the editorial I had written to my friends back home. Google's new technologies have made searching the web much more inclusive, such that my postsing, rants and raves, and pictures quite often wind up in google results when people are searching related materials.
Additionally, I'm one of the few americans who has had the pleasure to visit Libya for an extended period of time and as such I have more posts about it than probably any other american blog on the web, which thanks to services such as technorati, digg, and google, have put my personal thoughts at the top of the search engine results when people search libyan information.
In the USA, this isn't a problem at all. I am one of the largest proponents of free speech you will ever meet. I believe everyone should have the right to share their beliefs, thoughts, opinions, humor, and all other parts of their personality that they choose with the world at large. However, having said that, there are limitations that I am quickly coming to surmise that need to be instituted on this forum, at least when the posts come from me.
Libya, where I've spent much time over these last two years, is NOT a free democratic society, and as such has rules and customs which are much different from our own here in the USA. As such, some of the things I've said and posted on here have drawn some fire from people from time to time. Can it hurt me? No... not really. The most that can happen is that they refuse me entry if I try to go back again. (and I love it there, so I'd hate for that to happen) However, I have made many friends in Libya who I respect, care for, and admire, who CAN be hurt from ramifications of what is posted on this blog. Quite frankly, anyone who upsets the libyan government can and might very well BE evicted from the country. It's not for me to say that this is wrong or right, because I'm not a citizen of their great country and as much as I THINK I know of their customs and beliefs, I am still quite ignorant of many of the ways things work abroad.
About 50% of the email I receive from this blog is congratulatory; appreciative comments about the interesting things people have learned from my travels. THAT is why I post these things.. to share with the world that which not every American can experience themselves. The other 50% of emails received are warnings, disparaging remarks, and recently even threats about the ramifications of my "freedom of expression." It is for that reason that the posts have come down. I'm not concerned about myself, for like I said there isn't much they can DO to me as an American citizen, but there ARE many friends and acquaintances who have made it their lifes work to live in that country and to work there and these people deserve to be rewarded for what they do, not disparaged for it. So, to save everyone the hassle, I've taken all the related posts down.
Will I repost them? Sure. I'll take the time to carefully be sure of the content and the ramifications of the posts and then I'll repost what I can that I feel will neither offend Libyan officials, nor endanger the friends and compatriates I have made there.
Is this censorship? I dont' believe so. Censorship would be someone ELSE telling me what I can and can't post on here. Common sense is when I do it on my own, for my own reasons. I am certainly free to post anything on here I wish, however responsible journalism ( for that's what this is becoming) also comes with its own set of rules. When what you write injures someone else, especially people you admire and respect, then it's not worth writing if you truly care about the subject of your posts.
In conclusion, thanks to ALL of you who have posted comments on this blog. Some of you have appreciated what I've posted and others have been worried about the fallout that can ensue from what seems to me to be an innocent journal of my travels. I have taken ALL those comments into consideration when making this choice and I will try my best to keep them in mind when making any future posts.
Till next time...