Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm Not Unwilling To View Freedom of the Press As An Absolute Right

Written from Seward, Alaska --

Every survey taken, it seems, shows that many Americans do not understand the Constitution and the accompanying Bill of Rights. There have been many surveys showing a major willingness, at one time or another, to give up vital freedoms.

Yet, with some exceptions, those freedoms have been kept. The Supreme Court has not always, however, been a bulwark for liberty. It declared Dred Scott, a Negro slave, was not a citizen, and it upheld racial segregation. It imprisoned the Japanese in World War II. Judges are human beings named by politicians, and all too many have been corrupt old farts in the worst, not the best sense of those words. The legal profession all too often attracts skunks, although I've known some fine attorneys. But the injection of dishonest lawyers into the process caused me years ago to suggest that as a prerequisite of qualifying for the bar, would-be attorneys should be required to serve five years first in the penatentiary.

Now the legal profession and sitting judges want to strike down freedom of the press. That can't be allowed. The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights says plainly that no law can be passed abridging freedom of the press.

Will everyone agree? No. But if they don't like it, let them try to amend the Constitution. The debate will show that freedom of the press is essential in any democracy. It is not, in the last analysis, the rights of reporters and editors that are at stake, but the rights of the American people.

We do have a system of laws in the U.S, no matter how imperfect. It's certainly better than in Germany, where they continue to release terrorists, as the German judiciary did just this week with a suspect in the Madrid bombings.

But now with Judy Miller in jail, even our system is faltering. Don't expect reporters to give up their rights, simply because they may, for the time being, seem inconvenient.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Ken, do you even read the stuff you write?

You were calling for Bill O'Reilly's head a month ago and quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes while arguing that there is not an absolute right to free speech. Clearly you were willing to find some limits on the first amendment when it suits you. But now, when a reporter may very well be protecting someone who committed TREASON, you become an absolutist.

So which is it, does the first amendment have absolutely no limits, or are you the only person allowed to make those decisions? And by the way, how do you feel about freedom of religion?

In case you don’t remember, here’s the relevant quote from you:

“….FCC might well step in here, and fine Fox and O'Reilly for indecent speech. If O'Reilly doesn't withdraw his remark and apologize, he should be taken off the air.

Ir [sic] was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who once rightly observed that freedom of speech doesn't give anyone the right to shout fire in a crowded theatre.

And at a time when terrorists do roam the world, killing the innocent, we don't need such fools broadcasting in the United States.”

7/20/2005 4:28 PM  
Blogger Matt Weinstock said...

This is a great subject. Citizens need the press to keep them informed of governmental misdeeds.

Unfortunately, many journalists have abused their anonymous source routine by making things up and much of the public view them as whiny dilettantes with a political agenda. If they continually cry "WOLF! when questioned, no one will pay them anymore attention.

I think that Judith Miller is showing the courage of her convictions and will come out of jail with a better grasp of the real world, and I doubt if it will hurt other than her dignity.

I don't really expect many journalists to go down shooting in defense of their beliefs as defenders of other constitutional rights might.

There is a right and wrong in press actions. They just need to use the judgment passed on to them in childhood.

MW

PS: Did you know the movement to intern the Americans of Japanese decent was spearheaded by California Attorney General Earl Warren? And approved by FDR?

7/21/2005 1:26 PM  

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