Posts tagged ‘Crate Barrells’

Giving Citizens "Premium" Rights

In a previous post, I expressed my frustration with the argument over blogs and campaign finance rules:

These past few weeks, we have been debating whether this media
exemption from speech restrictions should be extended to bloggers.  At
first, I was in favorThen I was torn.
Now, I am pissed.  The more I think of it, it is insane that we are
creating a 2-tiered system of first amendment rights at all, and I
really don't care any more who is in which tier....

have come to the conclusion that arguing over who gets the media
exemption is like arguing about whether a Native American in 1960's
Alabama should use the white or the colored-only bathroom:  It is an
obscene discussion and is missing the whole point, that the facilities
shouldn't be segregated in the first place.

Currently, in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision ruling against a Constitutional journalistic privilege to withhold evidence from prosecutors.  Glenn Reynolds has a nice editorial in the USA Today echoing the point that we should not:

claims of privilege turn the press into a
privileged class. If ordinary people witness a crime, they have to talk
about it. If they participate in a crime "” say, by receiving classified
documents "” they have to say where they got them. Journalists want to
be treated differently, but the First Amendment doesn't create that
sort of privilege. Nor should we.

Many people who support these privileges say
that they would be limited to "real" journalists. But who decides when
a journalist is real? If the government decides, isn't that like
licensing the press, something the First Amendment was designed to
prevent? And if journalists decide, isn't that likely to lead to a
closed-shop, guild mentality at exactly the moment when citizen
journalism by non-professionals is taking off? All sorts of people are
reporting news via Web logs and the Internet. Shouldn't they be
entitled to the same privilege?

Press freedom is for everyone, not just professionals. James Madison wrote about "freedom in the use
of the press," making clear that the First Amendment is for everyone
who publishes, not just members of the professional-media guild.

Yes!  It is ridiculous to be creating two classes of citizen.  Why should Giraldo Rivera have different or even enhanced rights over, say, Martha Stewart, who went to jail for not being forthright with investigators?  This is a very disturbing trend in this country.  Already in the last week, the Supreme Court has ruled that developers, Walmarts, and Crate & Barrells have more and different property rights than homeowners, churches, and small retail establishments.