In the US government's campaign against journalists, Barret Brown is one of the lesser-known victims. And now even less will be forthcoming about his story, as the Texas-based writer, satirist and Internet activist is under a federal court gag order, forbidden to talk about his case.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.), writing in the Chicago Sun-Times ("It's Time to Say Who's a Real Reporter," 6/26/13), says it's time to stop letting just anyone call themselves a journalist. Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive. By this he means, basically, that the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press probably don't apply to you: Not every blogger, tweeter or Facebook user is a […]
It seems inadequate for U.S. media outlets to critique the level of free expression in the country where NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is seeking asylum without comparing it to the level of free expression in the country he is seeking asylum from. While the United States has on paper some of the best guarantees of the right to speak in the world, its practice is considerably more chilling.
NBC's Brian Williams called Bradley Manning "the man who may have put U.S. military secrets in the hands of Osama bin Laden." But giving classified information to the public is something that news outlets–including NBC News–routinely do, and each time they do it they too could be accused of "aiding the enemy."
From Free Press's helpful explainer of the AP phone records scandal, noting the legal background: Smith v. Maryland — In this 1979 decision, the Supreme Court found that people have no expectation of privacy when it comes to the numbers they call because they understand it has to be transmitted through a third party (telephone company). Thus, the [Digital Media Law Project] notes, "the government can obtain that information simply by issuing a subpoena to a telephone company or other third party." As Mr. Bumble says, "If the law supposes that, the law is a ass–a idiot." Everyone who wouldn't […]
The New York Times' September 26 coverage of Barack Obama's UN address on Arab democracy, free speech and violence included a good sampling of the distortions, double standards and bigotry often present in U.S. corporate reporting on these issues. Helene Cooper's news report (9/26/12) explained that Obama's speech was a "strong defense of America's belief in freedom of speech," challenging "fledgling Arab and North African democracies to ensure that right even in the face of violence." According to Cooper, Obama also "asserted that the flare-up of violence over a video that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad would not set off a […]
The Supreme Court decided on Thursday that lying about medals and military service, while "contemptible," is protected under the First Amendment's free speech clause. The court said the federal "Stolen Valor" law was overly broad and imposed a chilling effect on free speech. This news enraged Rush Limbaugh, who responded on is radio show with disdain, facetiously wondering, "I don't know if they legalized pedophilia or not." An interesting non sequitur, but back on point: Limbaugh's comprehension of freedom of speech has always been a crabbed affair, pretty much limited to the view that he and his conservative allies–people who enjoy […]