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Freedom | Thursday, December 8th, 2005 | 11 years, 9 months ago

What better way to start a blog than by discussing someone else’s?

Sixth Seal, a blog reviewing food, travel, products, and illegal narcotics, has recently been taken down after several years of obscurity if not infamy. In addition to surprisingly well written pieces discussing the differences between noodle dishes in Singapore and China, an odd botted beverage containing a glass orb, and the ins and outs of the Singapore nightclub scene, writer Poh Huai Bin’s blog occasionally featured educational ramblings by “guest writer” Veritas. This contributor published articles on drug use and culture which were often accompanied by photographs and even videos of the writer preparing and consuming illegal narcotics.

After 3 years of consumption and confession, Sixth Seal was featured on the front page of a major Singapore newspaper. Legalities pending, Huai Bin agreed to remove all content deemed inappropriate for public display. Though he was quick to restructure his site, his URL, www.sixthseal.com, is currently inoperable.

Though a relatively small fish in the sea of the interweb, Sixth Seal may set precedent for similar cases in years to come. The issue of freedom of speech has been the instigator in revolutions, wars, and persecution about as long as mankind has been able to vocalize, but the colossal megaphone that is the internet introduces new complications. Where is the line drawn? What, precisely, is the crime? Is freedom of speech limited to auditory and written communication or are we free to invite the world to sit at our desks?

Perhaps free speech is limited to anonymous individuals or collaborative authors. There are a multitude of websites, for example Erowid and Lycaeum, which educate in depth on the topics of legal and illegal narcotics. These websites are contributed to by the general public, providing chemical, experiential, and behavioural data and personal accounts. All the reader knows about each contributor is what little he or she chooses to share. Bin Huai has chosen to disclose his identity, his likes and dislikes, his lifestyle habits, and his visage on his website. Is it truly the illegal content that pushes his site over the edge, or the compliment of otherwise ordinary personal data?

I’ll not raise my personal beliefs on this matter. I am simply disclosing it to the public so that they can make their own informed decisions. Don’t make yours, however, until you’ve gotten to know Bin Huai a little better.

Like most web pages, archives of Sixth Seal can be found on The Wayback Machine, sans multimedia content.

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