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Hold provocative blog posts when in doubt

Ernie Svenson, discussing a situation regarding friend’s provocative blog post, offers wise counsel that provocative blog posts offend some people and you need to consider this when taking on an issue, person, or cause.

There are lots of things that I would love to blog about, or things that I would love to write about in a certain way, but I don’t. Why? Because I’ve become aware that, on the Internet, you have to imagine your audience as being the entire world (because it is). The judge I used to clerk for was a skilled politician, and when I was clerking for him he offered this advice: ‘never say anything that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Times Picayune.’

With a blog you are speaking to a potentially much larger audience than the Times Picayune, and also you have to remember that your post will not disappear after one day (unless you delete it, and even then it’s not necessarily going to vanish from the web). Many people would take my judge’s sage advice and conclude that you should avoid all possibility of controversy. Just stick to the safe areas, and dont’ say anything that’s too provocative. That’s what many people would do.

Of course, that’s kind of antithetical to the foundations of this country, since if our early leaders had shied away from giving offense we’d possibly not be an independent nation. And we’d possibly not have created a document that gives people the right to free speech. We all like to celebrate democracy and free speech, but we seldom like to acknowledge how messy and complicated democracy is. Transparency is also hard to manage. But, in my view it’s worth it.

I’m with Ernie on taking a stand and speaking openly. Heck, I follow a ‘What would Mike Ditka or Mike Cuban do?’ philosophy. But with blogging a few years now I’ve learned when and where to pick my battles.

On law firm blogs, you may not be able to be too provocative. You may have firm administration, partners and/or clients who could find a post provocative. That’s one advantage a small law firm blogger has.

One good rule of thumb when in doubt is to save the post for a publishing date one day out. When practicing law there were some letters I would hold and push to the front of my desk. If I felt the same way the next morning, I would send the letter out. In some cases I thought the wiser and tossed the letter. Same applies with some blog posts.

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