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If a “Shield Law” is Needed, We’re Already Hosed

The House and Senate have dueling “Shield Law” bills ( H.R. 1962 ; S. 987) working through their separate sausage grinders; whatever is churned forth at the end of the process will be a travesty. Merely discussing a “need” for such legislation represents an abdication of responsibility by members of Congress who, before taking their seats places at the trough, declared the following:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

So why is this “Shield Law” stuff even being discussed? Because the fourth clause of the First Amendment has been stood on its head. Instead of referring to a method used to disseminate information (aka: “Speech”), “the press” has been, over time, magically transmuted to mean… something else.

 

Instead of a Right equally shared among all citizens, it’s now being argued it should only refer to members of a professional guild that shows all signs of going the way of farriers and buggy-whip merchants:

The Free Flow of Information Act was introduced earlier this year by Senator Charles Schumer, who had introduced a similar bill in 2009 with the late Senator Arlen Specter. Back then, Feinstein and Durbin wanted strict definitions of the word “journalists” after the WikiLeaks story broke.

Their current amendment to the bill poses the same questions.

“This bill is described as a reporter shield law — I believe it should be applied to real reporters,” Feinstein said last week. “The current version of the bill would grant a special privilege to people who aren’t really reporters at all, who have no professional qualifications.”

The Feinstein-Durbin proposed amendment would narrowly define journalists as “a salaried agent” of a media company.

Under that  definition, I’m covered; I am a media company, and have been since 1993… under that definition, you idiots can’t touch me under your Shield Law’s purview….

But still, “Fuck. You.”

To  consider writing a law that will be carving out an exception for members of an approved, “professional” caste beyond what is afforded to every American citizen is abhorrent to your Oath. “Freedom of the Press” means access to a distribution mechanism. That’s all. It does not refer to a self-selecting guild. Arguing whether this legislation should be extended to consider ‘bloggers’ to fall under its umbrella is missing the fucking point.

Anyone toting a smart phone is armed with a newsroom. Anyone posting a pic, a tweet, or a status update possesses a byline just as legitimate as any J-school jerkoff employed by AP, or a rant-happy moron with a Blogspot account.

And if you know me, and don’t think I’m serious about this, check out who the hell I placed first in the “Related articles” list….

Yeah, me and Ollie O’Donuts are on the same page. Didn’t see that one coming, didja?

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