Friday, September 13, 2013

No no no no no no no

Oh, look, the the Senate Judiciary Committee has passed horrible, terrible, awful legislation that is likely to pass in the full Senate.

Don't buy the headline about "protection" or the "shield" in the summaries. This bill amounts to nothing but a protection racket, like all licensing laws and regulations (which is what this really is), that keeps the big, rich, entrenched media companies safe while serving as a well-fortified wall against upstarts and rebels.
Feinstein introduced an amendment that defines a "covered journalist" as someone who gathers and reports news for "an entity or service that disseminates news and information." The definition includes freelancers, part-timers and student journalists, and it permits a judge to go further and extend the protections to any "legitimate news-gathering activities." [emphasis mine]
It also has effects that the government loves, giving them power to silence those writers (i.e. speakers) they don't like by allowing the federal government to define who exactly qualifies for First Amendment protections under the guise of "national security". This is perfect, modern crony capitalist legislation.

It would seem at this point, thankfully, that it will have a hard time in the House. I can't even imagine how it could pass Supreme Court muster, if it does become law. Of course, even getting to SCOTUS would require the law to be in effect, someone to be silenced using it and then bringing a challenge. Access to information would suffer in the, potentially long, meantime, and based on many surprising decisions by the court, there's always the possibility they would let it stand.

Never mind that "freedom of speech" is actually separate from "the press" in the First Amendment, but exactly where does it say only the press as officially defined by the legislature?
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.
The Founding Fathers were intentionally broad with the Bill of Rights, especially. Their intention was absolutely to limit the power of the federal government. And yet our government continues to distill it and define it down in order to bend it to their will -- more power and control over the lives of American citizens. Eventually it won't bend anymore. It will only break.*

*Some would argue that's already happened via SCOTUS-supported abuses of the Fourth Amendment.