Monday, May 27, 2013

Durbin (D) wonders: Does First Amendment apply to bloggers, Twitter?

Yes ... Obviously.

Video embedded below.

"Here’s what the First Amendment actually says: “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.” Press at the time would certainly have meant newspapers, which were the high-tech information revolution of the day. It would also have included pamphleteers, perhaps even more than newspapers, as pamphleteers helped drive revolutionary sentiment. Their modern-day analogs would arguable be bloggers and Twitter users, those who reported news and proclaimed opinions outside of the establishment press.

However, Durbin’s asking the wrong question. The question isn’t who gets protected, but what. Journalism is not an identity or a guild, but an action and a process — and anyone engaged in that activity must be treated equally before the law. A shield law based on membership via employment in privileged workplaces or certified by guilds doesn’t protect journalism, it becomes rent-seeking behavior that ensures that only the large players get protected, as I wrote ten days ago.

Durbin’s question isn’t even the biggest non-sequitur in this argument. The biggest non-sequitur is the shield law itself, which wouldn’t have even addressed the Rosen or AP situation. And considering that the Obama administration ignored existing statutes in both cases, why should we believe they would obey a shield law when it got in their way?"

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