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Response to geek tragedy (Original post)

Fri Sep 20, 2013, 07:05 PM

20. Charles P. Pierce begs to differ.

 

I think I mentioned a while back that, while I was in journalism school -- And, yes, I went to J-school. Don't let that get around, OK? -- we were all the time debating the notion of a shield law. It was the late, great George Reedy, without whom I likely would have been the one lawyer who broke the camel's back, who pointed out that, if we accepted a shield law, then we also would have to accept government's right to define who it would be that the shield law covered, which meant we had to accept the government's right essentially to define what a journalist was, and this way, George said, lay madness. He mentioned the Royal licenses against which colonial pamphleteers rebelled. And the Stamp Act. And the use of the post office to restrict the circulation of unpopular ideas, from abolitionist newspapers to the Comstock laws.

(snip)

This isn't a law to protect journalists. If it were, that list of loopholes at the end wouldn't be quite so lengthy -- or quite so vague. (You can drive a team of ploughhorses through "information that could stop or prevent crimes such as..." This is a law to protect secrets. This is a law that redefines the exercise of a constitutional right as a privilege "protected" by the government. This is a law that allows the government to define what "the press" is under the First Amendment, and, my god, if that's not the primary consitutional heresy in that regard, I don't know what is. And I don't care that a judge can "extend" that privilege. That's not a judge's job, either.

(snip)

Let me be quite clear. If you accept the Congress's right to define what a journalist is, you are a miserable traitor to the profession you presume to practice. You have, quite simply, become something less worthy than an informer, something lower than a jailhouse snitch. I'll leave it to my man Chuck Todd to take the king's shilling. Me? I'll stand with the 17-year old and his own website, and, with all the faith I ever have had in my constitutional right to do so, we both will tell Dianne Feinstein to fk off, thank you. Stuff your privilege. I have my rights.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/dianne-feinstein-sheild-laws-091913

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enlightenment Sep 2013 #1
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LondonReign2 Sep 2013 #25
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LineReply Charles P. Pierce begs to differ.
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