By Michael Stodola Special to Published Jul 04, 2008 at 8:27 AM

According to the University of Washington's World Information Access report, worldwide arrests of bloggers are sharply increasing. Apparently, it's quite dangerous to blog in China, Iran and Egypt.

Even right here in the U.S. of A., people are paying the price for offending others with words ... evil words. Of course, many of these arrests were made for threatening harm or attempting to inspire others to violence, but others were simply for criticizing policy.

A fellow in the U.K. was taken in after he blogged about a police officer, making a veiled threat about his "newborn baby." Obviously, there are times when a "closer look" is justified by authorities, but where is the line?

Ah, the age-old struggle of freedom of speech is finding its legs in Blog Town.

Well, come and get me, Copper. I certainly have upset of few folks with my words. I've received my fair share of negative comments and recently was forwarded a letter attempting to slap my literary wrist. At least someone's paying attention, I guess.

And God bless us all.

Freedom to your own opinion is as strong as nature. A river is going where it's going and we can do little about it. In turn, if Molly Snyder Edler wants to question the existence of Zima or if Andy Tarnoff feels the need to spout off about ignorant Brewers fans, well, more power to 'em.

What most governments and conservative organizations really fear is "dialogue." It's a paranoia that the "great unwashed" will gang up on them and take their stuff. But, people sharing thoughts, feelings and information is not only an important part of healthy society, it can bring big profits to those paying attention.

Smart companies, organizations and even politicians have harnessed the power of the people for their own benefit. Regular Joes are willing to upload everything from photos to opinions to personal stories on thousands of sites each day. Through this information, they tell companies exactly how they feel, what they need or how they can be satisfied. What more could an organization want? You can save thousands in "focus group" research by carefully listening to this "feedback."

Then again, you can just have the naysayers thrown in the cooler and blindly march on with an out-of-touch agenda. But most people would love to pass on their opinion to you. And if you can read between the lines, you may be able to cash in big. I, however, must go (police sirens outside) because my ride's here.

Michael Stodola Special to
Michael Stodola is the Creative Director at Boelter + Lincoln – a Milwaukee advertising agency. He loves his job, but not as much as he loves scuba diving, crab cakes or playing with his kids. His favorite thing is sneaking off for dates with his hottie wife. Born and raised in Nebraska, he’s been calling Milwaukee home for well over 10 years. After Michael’s impending death, he’d like to return to this world as your next American Idol®.