Diane Feinstein and a few other well meaning Senators are in the process of defining who qualifies for 1st Amendment rights, or privileges as she put it, as the Senate Judiciary Committee attempts to iron out a “shield law for reporters or journalists” from having to divulge their sources.
This rush for an immediate fix regarding the press has nothing to do with a recent scandal in which the NSA ran rough shod over individual rights or private records and which the Justice Department claimed to have no knowledge; no there’s no connection, move along. My Jedi mind tricks used to be more convincing.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
So, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; hummmm, Congress shall make no law abridging a God given or natural right which includes an individual’s freedom of speech or of the press.
Re-defining who or who does not qualify as a member of the press would be an abridgement of that right, an attempt to limit God given rights by claiming rights are, in actuality, government privileges or entitlements.
Red warning flags should be waving in the breeze as America is transformed from a constitutional republic into a totalitarian socialist state. If ever we permit government to establish the premise that rights are dispensed, no different than entitlements, at that moment we have lost and the state has all power over us; we will have become subjects rather than citizens.
The 1st Amendment doesn’t say individual’s have to be paid employees, full time or part time nor does it place limits on who can claim to be a member of the press; limitations are placed on government, not individuals.
Saying the efforts of the Senate Judiciary Committee are well meaning is perhaps giving them far too much credit. This legislation is an offense to liberties guaranteed to all under the 1st Amendment. The elitist mentality on the Hill is exposed time and time again as they claim government as the source of rights, except they call rights privileges or entitlements or anything other than God given individual rights guaranteed to all. What difference does it make? (I know, that’s Hillary Clinton’s line in reference to the Benghazi debacle in which four Americans were murdered; but hey, it seems to fit here just as well.)
“I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there,” said Feinstein during the committee meeting.”
Everyone does have the right, that’s the point, Senator Feinstein. It’s not within powers delegated to anyone in government to decide which citizens are to use their God given rights to freedom of the press, no more than it is within powers delegated to the Senate to decide which citizens have the right to own and bear arms. (2nd Amendment rights are under attack too? My goodness, next thing you know our 4th Amendment right to be secure in our person or homes from unreasonable searches will be up for grabs.)
“The bill now on the Senate floor would define a journalist as someone employed by or in contract with a media outlet for at least one year within the last 20 years or three months within the last five years; someone with a substantial track record of freelancing in the last five years; or a student journalist.”
In contrast to the full frontal assault by the Senate Judiciary Committee to define who qualifies as a journalist, Senator John Cornyn of Texas reminded everyone there are already plenty of laws on the books and we’d be better off if those in government would just follow those laws.
“In a broadside against the Obama administration, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the legislation was merely a diversion by the White House. It was introduced three days after word emerged about the secret subpoenas of the AP records.
“A new law is not what we need,” Cornyn said. “We find ourselves here because of the abuses of the attorney general.”
Several years ago I had a chance to obtain a Press Corp Hat Logo to put on my blog, a sure fire way to let folks who stumble upon my writings know that I was a serious journalist.
I blew it; never bothered to save that neat looking hat logo complete with a Press Pass stuck in the satin band. I’m told journalists wear Fedoras and spend part of their salary making sure it’s properly blocked so as to stand out in a crowd.
Do you know the difference between a Vase (pronounce Vahhh-zzzz) and a Vase (pronounced Vay-ze)? The answer, about twenty bucks; the same applies when comparing Press Corp hats and Fedoras; rumor has it only pimps wear Fedoras.
I did watch Clark Gable play the part of a hard nosed newspaper city editor in Teacher’s Pet along side of Doris Day; that should count for something. Take that Diane Feinstein; bet you have trouble with Who, What, When, Where, Why and How too.
Folks in Washington have good reason to fear amateur journalists, bloggers or those who have only their love of truth involved when they type messages informing others of what’s going on in this country; modern day pamphleteers if you will.
Pamphleteers were largely responsible for opening the eyes of colonists prior to the Revolutionary War; folks who spent their hard earned money and time exposing the enemies of liberty by printing leaflets which they shared with anyone willing to read, predecessors of our modern day press corp.
Ezra Taft Benson expressed in his talk, The Proper Role of Government, a thought most Americans share.
“Starting at the foundation of the pyramid, let us first consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know are human rights. There are only two possible sources. Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government. I, for one, shall never accept that premise. As the French political economist, Frederick Bastiat, phrased it so succinctly, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”’ (The Law, p.6)
This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.