11 January, 2008


Do Bloggers Really Make any Useful Contribution? I am not the only one who has been asking myself this question. Recent developments with bloggers in Bermuda show that others are asking themselves the same thing.

Bermuda is a tiny British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic, just off the coast of North Carolina. It enjoys the world’s highest GDP. The PLP, the ruling political party, has recently been re-elected to power, despite a crescendo of evidence of misdeeds at the highest levels of the party and government. Revelations of shenanigans on the part of Premier Brown were frequently published prior to the election in the courageous mainstream press such as the Royal Gazette.

Premier Brown

Yet, the PLP won power for the third straight time in a row, with increased voter turnout.

Blogger Dennis Pitcher raised the level of political commentary on Bermuda in his blog 21 Square Miles. The resulting personal attacks on him have made him tired, saddened and disillusioned. He is now bringing his blogging to an end. He has concluded that the government representatives and their supporters prefer to shoot the messenger rather than discuss the message.

Software developer Phillip Wells, an Englishman married to a Bermudian, started his blog, Limey in Bermuda in August 2003. He regularly criticised the actions of the PLP government. Now, he has decided to close his blog. He has come to believe that by continuing his criticism, he will only make things worse. If you are white, you will be accused of being a racist. If you are black, you will be accused of being a race traitor. If you are a journalist, you will be accused of being in league with the opposition. If you are in the opposition, you will be accused of wanting to take the country back to slavery. If he is right, our system of politics is truly dysfunctional.

PC Allan Palmer is an independent thinker among the Bermuda Police officers. I knew him as a police officer in St Vincent. He used to take me climbing the Soufriere Volcano.

PC Palmer

He transferred to the Bermuda Police Force. He started a blog, Crushing Fools in December 2007. He challenged his readers to take back the island from the criminals on the street. He called on the community to “be courageous” and to unite against violence and crime. He came in for high praise in the media. After his first article, he published nothing more. He loves writing. He would not have stopped without pressure. I expect he was shut down by his superiors. Never mind he was asking the public to cooperate with their police. Independent thinkers in the police force are usually considered a dangerous threat to those in power. That is true not only of Bermuda.

Bloggers do not exist simply for the purpose of criticizing a government or a particular political party. The most they can do is to offer an alternative perspective and ideas about how to make their island a better place. If you are trying to make a difference, it does not take long for the realization to sink in that blogging does nothing to really achieve positive change. After all, no politician is lying awake at night worrying about what is published about him on any blog. Blogs are usually read by people who agree with the blogger. This is little more than the case of a preacher preaching to the converted. If all the effort put into blogging and commenting is designed to make a change, you have to ask yourself what is the use?

Then I answer myself. You go on blogging because you enjoy the writing. You like expressing your views, no matter who agrees. You do not expect to make a difference. That would be a mistake.


  1. There's a difference. In Bermuda they have three real newspapers, one of them a daily. They don't hesitate to criticize the Premier and his friends. Lord knows what outrageous things Dr. Brown would do if he didn't have to think, "How is this going to look in the Gazette tomorrow?"

    Anguilla doesn't have a real newspaper. It's not true that Nat is useless. It's worse. He's an enabler. The things our leaders do, they couldn't do without Nat.

    We don't even have a real opposition. You may not think you're being effective, Don, but some of us believe you're all we have to prevent our leaders from taking us into the abyss.

    And we enjoy your writing. :)

  2. "Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right...and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers"

    John Adams (A dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law) 1765, shortly before the American Revolution

  3. Bloggers do make a difference but only to those with access to the web. Many people especially in Anguilla who are elderly and not computer literate are not informed about these serious issues raised on the various blogs. Our younger generation who do have access cant' be bothered with political issues. They, well most of them, just want to party, drink and smoke dope. Those who can make a difference are unable to garner enough support to be politically viable. It's a sad situation but that seems to be the reality of it. Despite this, blogging allows us a venue to express opinions that would otherwise remain hidden.

    I personally enjoy your blogs Mr Mitchell and hope that your do not go the way of those in Bermuda. It is refreshing to engage in discussing the various topics raised here on your blog with both the informed and uninformed. It allows us as Anguillians to interact no matter where we are in the world. I am amused at times when there are antagonistic debates as every one tries to support their point of view. However ,we have to be aware that each of us is entitled to their opinions no matter how off base or seemingly unpopular it is.

    what we need to encourage here on these blogs is the creation of a positive radio talk show that will express many of the views being aired on the blogs. I know this is a gigantic task to undertake but it is the only way to convert most Anguillians and cripple our politically corrupt system.

    Here’s hoping that you continue your blogs and that you might live to hear someone say that you made a difference by them.

  4. Don. Heaven forbid that you give up. I agree with the others who have commented that your blog is the only hope for those who are concerned by what is going on. Even if the blog does not OF ITSELF accomplish the change, its existence is a lifeline for those who care, because it is their source of perspective and public recognition of the issues, and its loss would be a crushing triumph for those who are destroying Anguillians' birthright.

    Perhaps some of us should consider whether it would be possible to publish and distribute free of charge a weekly broadsheet bringing these comments together and making them available to a wider audience? What do others think about that as a possibility? The legal implications would obviously have to be taken into account but I suspect would not be insurmountable.

  5. Do bloggers make any useful contribution? Yes. Look at what your own blog about the dolphins produced.

    I thank you and all bloggers like you Don who dare to discover and share uncomfortable truths. It's up to those of us who read them to take action.

  6. Dear Don

    Please blog on!

    Best regards to you and Maggie. I am sending wishes for great health and happiness to both of you.

    (Sir Clare K. Roberts, QC)

  7. New blog in town commenting on Anguilla ,http://anguilla-political-commentary.blogspot.com/


    Sunshine and transparency are the mother’s milk of good governance. All efforts to disseminate information, opinions, and challenges must be encouraged and promoted.

    Blogging is a new hybrid of communication. It burst upon the scene a few years ago and made an immediate impact. Most blogs provide a valuable service and develop a following of faithful readers. Although some have a personal agenda, most provide interesting and provocative information unavailable elsewhere.

    Bloggers are in their infancy and like a seed in fertile soil, enjoying exponential growth. If one fails, two will take its place. They can’t be ignored or silenced and longevity is assured by peoples appetite for information and knowledge.

    Bloggers create a public forum for the exchange of ideas and opinions and at the same time, provide an opportunity for people from every walk of life to be heard without fear of intimidation or retribution. The greatest source of knowledge and understanding is with the people. Those who never had the opportunity to express their views now have an open and public forum.

    To be a successful blogger, you must be well versed on many subjects and have the ability to express your thoughts and ideas in writing. Bloggers who have a good value system and core beliefs attract the most attention but those who provoke and challenge also have faithful followers. On the down side, bloggers who put forth reckless and false information are sure to fail.

    Writing a blog is hard, tedious and challenging work. It’s not easy to consistently present new, fresh, and interesting thoughts and information. Bloggers cherish comments and feed-back so they know what readers are thinking and how they can improve content. Creating a blog is not an undertaking for the weak-kneed or timid and one day soon, bloggers will get the recognition and respect they deserve.

  9. Bloggers make a difference. In Barbados, even though many dispute this, bloggers made a big difference.

    What bloggers do is to put the facts on the table. Once the facts are there, they can be "networked" by word of mouth to a larger audience. All you can do is to put the facts out and leave it to the voting public.

    "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Thomas Jefferson

  10. Don, as a British, QC, I hope that you're doing all in your power to try to ensure proper, governance in Anguilla and anywhere, else where you can exercise some influence! Be vigilant about the situ. in Anguilla. If the situ with the legal profession is anything like it is in Barbados, then you've a major, challenge on your hands! Try to keep your profession free of those who would sully, it, wherever they're from!!!!

  11. Normally, I would not respond to someone's comment. But, only I can clear up this matter.

    I am not a "British QC". I am an Anguillian barrister and solicitor who was made a QC in the jurisdiction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in 1996. I was born in St Kitts of a St Vincent father and a Kittitian mother.


  12. Is that all u can say, Mitch? I'm disappointed! R u prepared to join in the fight to secure democracy in our region and root-out abuses of the law where you find them????

  13. What does Bimbo think you should do, Don, go out on the road at night in your Batmobile and bring wrongdoers to justice?

    Rude and ignorant people have always been with us, but now they have internet access.


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