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Milbloggers ‘run silent' in protest

Dec. 16, 2009 - 03:42PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 16, 2009 - 03:42PM  |  
C.J. Grisham displays his blog on his laptop in Huntsville, Ala., on Dec. 2.
C.J. Grisham displays his blog on his laptop in Huntsville, Ala., on Dec. 2. (PATRICIA MIKLIK DOYLE / GANNETT NEWS SERVICE)
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Dozens of military bloggers and their allies declared Dec. 16 a blogging blackout to protest the treatment of Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham.

"Readers will have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it," reads a post echoed on many of the sites participating in the grassroots campaign. "Those participating are urging their readers to contact their elected representatives in Congress, and to let their opinions be known to them and to other leaders in Washington."

Many of those pledging support have said they'll run silent through the end of the week.

Grisham is at the center of a storm raging throughout the military over the degree to which those in uniform may enjoy the same freedoms of speech they have sworn to protect.

Author of A Soldiers Perspective — as well as several other military-oriented blogs and an Internet radio talk show — Grisham was reprimanded for posts critical of President Barack Obama and was called on the carpet by his command after blogging about local school officials.

"Milblogs are facing an increasingly hostile environment from within the military," reads a post on Blackfive, among those declaring a "run silent" day. "While senior leadership has embraced blogging and social media, many field grade officers and senior NCOs do not embrace the concept," C. Blake Powers writes on Blackfive, which hosts several writers.

"Commands are not only failing to support such activities, but are aggressively acting against active duty milbloggers, milspouses, and others. The number of such incidents appears to be growing, with milbloggers receiving reprimands, verbal and written, not only for their activities but those of spouses and supporters," Power's post continues.

Indeed, many say Grisham is the not only one facing a hostile fire from his own command.

The authors of This Ain't Hell say they've been getting some blowback as well in their post joining the campaign. "So as a show of solidarity with CJ and a few other blogger friends who have been persecuted by the Army lately, we're going silent today," reads their Dec. 16 post.

"It seems ironic that the very people who have fought for our freedoms, are the ones being silenced!" reads a post on War on Terror News. "Should they not be able to speak their mind?"

‘Be bigger than individuals'

Not all agree that a blogging boycott is the best approach, however.

"Milblog credibility is diminished when they act like a political action community. Be bigger than individuals," posted Raymond Pritchett, a government contractor who writes for the U.S. Naval Institute's blog, from his Twitter account.

But even non-bloggers have joined the protest. Mark Baker, who pens the cartoon Pvt. Murphy's Law, knows from experience what Grisham is going through.

"The spineless wishy-washiness of Master Sgt. Grisham's so called "leaders" angers me greatly," Baker wrote to the 5,000 people who visit his Web site each week. "This cartoon would have ended long ago if a select few high-ranking people would have had their way. The difference is my Chain of Command actually supported me!"

For his part, Grisham says the response is "unexpected and humbling."

"I didn't know anything about this. It's kind of an emotional thing," he said Dec. 16, after waking to find his e-mail inbox flooded with notes of support and encouragement.

"I didn't want a lot of attention, I really didn't," he said. "I just wanted people to do the right thing. But when one milblogger gets shut down, people take that personally and start to wonder about their own standing."

Related reading

http://militarytimes.com/offduty/technology/offduty_blogger_120809/">The rise and fall of a military blogger

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