Michigan state government Republicans censor blogs

This is pretty much a local (as in Michigan and in the Michigan blogosphere) story, but I thought it’d be worthwhile to post here, especially for anyone coming across the site from outside Michigan: “Senate Republicans block access to left-leaning web site.” Here are the opening paragraphs:

LANSING, Mich. — Lawmakers and staffers using the state Senate’s Internet server no longer can visit or post to a left-leaning political Web site, prompting backlash from bloggers and others who say it is blatant censorship and a violation of free speech rights.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop’s chief of staff, Matt Miner, late last week asked the secretary of the Senate to block access to http://www.bloggingformichigan.com.

Bishop spokesman Matt Marsden said Monday that the decision was made because using “state time and taxpayer money to surf sites not applicable to the jobs staff were hired to execute is not an acceptable use of state time or funds.”

Senate Republicans, however, did not block other political Web sites such as http://www.michiganliberal.com and a conservative-leaning blog, http://www.rightmichigan.com. The block came after Republicans apparently saw stories posted to the site they did not like. Marsden said Bishop’s office also is reviewing other sites that could be “overtly political in nature.”

The move and potential for blockage of other sites drew charges of censorship from Democrats, who said blogs are a legitimate method of communicating directly with the public.

“It’s a very arbitrary, unfortunate and rash decision made by the Senate Republican leader’s office,” said Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, who called for Bishop to change his mind.

Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of talk about all this at Blogging For Michigan.

Frankly, I don’t follow political blogs that closely, and I certainly don’t follow blogs about state of Michigan politics. So all I can guess is that this particular blog has had enough readers to significantly piss off Bishop’s staff manager. It does seems to me to be one more example as to the power of blogs, but I guess that’s something that is a lot more easily assumed nowadays than it was a couple years ago.

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