I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Senate committee votes to give "reporter's privilege" to BVD-clad bloggers

A news article said,

Anyone regularly engaged in "journalism," which would seem to include some bloggers, wouldn't generally be forced to divulge confidential sources in federal cases under a bill approved Thursday by a U.S. Senate committee.

By a 15-2 vote, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee backed an amended version of the so-called Free Flow of Information Act. Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) cast the "no" votes.

Some form of "reporter's privilege," either through laws or court decisions, already exists in 49 states and the District of Columbia. This bill would extend that protection to federal cases, shielding anyone engaged in the practice of "journalism"--with a number of exceptions, naturally--from being forced to give up confidential information or provide testimony.

The term "journalism" clearly would sweep up at least some bloggers because the bill defines it thusly: "the regular gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public."

That broad definition still gives some politicians heartburn. At Thursday's meeting, three members of the Senate committee -- Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) -- said they worried about giving protection to bloggers who aren't generally expected to adhere to the same code of conduct and ethics as professional journalists, according to a Senate aide familiar with the debate. But they didn't propose any different language at the time, opting instead to work with the bill's primary sponsors to craft tweaks before the bill hits the Senate floor.

Yes -- there is very good reason to be worried about the conduct and ethics (or more correctly, lack of ethics) of such evil BVD-clad bloggers as Fatheaded Ed Brayton, Sleazy PZ Myers, and Wes "Ding" Elsberry. All three arbitrarily censor visitors' comments on their blogs and Fatheaded Ed in particular just makes up stories out of thin air. These bloggers have no credibility.

Although it's unclear how the final language will shake out, it could end up resembling the approach taken by a House of Representatives panel when it backed a similar bill in August. That bill's authors said they planned to add a condition restricting the reporter's privilege only to those who derive "financial gain or livelihood" from the practice of journalism. (Granted, it's relatively easy and inexpensive to slap advertisements on blogs and qualify for the privilege, so some politicians weren't impressed by that amendment.)

. . . . . .And, of course, neither bill is without a lengthy list of exceptions to the privileges, which many major news organizations have deemed an appropriate balance. The Senate version would permit forced disclosure of information in cases where there's reason to believe a crime has occurred; where the information sought is "essential" to the investigation, defense or prosecution; or where unauthorized revelations of information have caused -- or will cause--"significant and articulable harm to the national security." If the information is necessary in cases involving kidnapping, death, "substantial bodily harm" or terrorism against the United States, among other things, it would also be fair game.

Actually, the bill does not appear to give much protection to reporters because the exceptions -- e.g., where there is reason to believe a crime has occurred -- would cover most situations where disclosure of confidential information is sought. This bill would not protect, say, the reporters who were jailed or threatened with jail for refusing to identify their sources in the Plamegate scandal.

I think that the reporter's privilege should apply in investigations of crimes that have already been committed but should not apply when disclosure of the confidential information might help prevent a future crime, particularly a major crime involving bodily harm or kidnapping.

This Senate bill, S 2035, has only four co-sponsors (plus the sponsor), and yet was voted out of a Senate committee by a vote of 15-2. In contrast, the Senate bill to bar attorney fee award rip-offs in establishment clause lawsuits, S 415 , now has 20 co-sponsors (plus the sponsor) but has been stalled in committee for months, with no hearing so far (a Senate committee hearing was held for a similar bill -- S 3696 -- last year, and the House version of the bill passed the full House). That's a shame.
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17 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> they worried about giving protection to bloggers who aren't generally expected to adhere to the same code of conduct and ethics as professional journalists <

1. You don't adhere to the code of conduct you bleat about.

2. Many professional journalists don't either.

Sunday, October 14, 2007 7:42:00 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Then again, some of us randomly-clad bloggers have entire blogs devoted to the subject of ethics in online media.

Sunday, October 14, 2007 8:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> All three arbitrarily censor visitors' comments on their blogs <

It is possible but you have failed to cite a single case of arbitrary censorship, such as you have practiced on this blog.

> These bloggers have no credibility. <

They have considerably more than you.

Monday, October 15, 2007 4:27:00 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

It's a bit vague to characterize some impulsive reaction as merely arbitrary.

I recommend using the more comprehensive expression, arbitrary and capricious in these contexts.

Monday, October 15, 2007 7:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> It's a bit vague to characterize some impulsive reaction as merely arbitrary. <

The point is that Larry has never given an example of such a reaction. On the many blogs that he has managed to get himself banned, it has always been for egregious behavior and usually repeated before he is banned. Then when they don't accept further material from him, he thinks that he is being censored because of the content of that individual post.

While I don't doubt that there is censorship on some blogs, Larry has failed to show an example of this except by his own actions of censorship.

Can anyone give an example of a blog, other than Larry's, where arbitrary censorship has been practiced?

Monday, October 15, 2007 8:08:00 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

It occurred to me that I had never looked up the etymology of egregious before, so pulled out my trusty American Heritage Dictionary.

Turns out the word comes to us from the Latin, ex + grex, meaning "standing out from the herd."

Larry prolly feels a lot like Rudolph.

Monday, October 15, 2007 9:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> Larry prolly feels a lot like Rudolph. <

Probably more like Pinocchio.

Monday, October 15, 2007 1:00:00 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Pinocchio prolly felt like Jonah.

Monday, October 15, 2007 1:21:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> The point is that Larry has never given an example of such a reaction. <<<<<<

ViU, you stupid dunghill, every ban of a commenter is arbitrary because it is not based on the contents of individual comments.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 3:52:00 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

If Congress defines Journalism as "the regular gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public," then Wikipedia would unequivocally be swept into the sphere of journalistic enterprise, notwithstanding the claim that "Wikipedia is not online journalism."

Thursday, October 18, 2007 1:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> ViU, you stupid dunghill, every ban of a commenter is arbitrary because it is not based on the contents of individual comments. <

I see that you don't know what arbitrary means. Check it out in a dictionary if you can find one.

You were banned for outrageous behaviour. After you were banned, it doesn't matter what the contents of any further posts are.

I also see that Sherry D was right. You can't give up your childish behaviour.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 6:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Sherry D said...

> ViU, you stupid dunghill <

Larry, you are acting like a childish brat. Go stand in the corner.

> every ban of a commenter is arbitrary because it is not based on the contents of individual comments. <

You seem to be trying to assign your own meanings to words rather than use them to mean what the rest of the world does. Once a person has been thrown out of a place for bad behavior, they usually remain banned. It is not necessary for the doorman to guess whether they will be passing out daisies if they are readmitted in deciding whether to continue the ban.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

There is no shortage of jejune, puerile, juvenile, sophomorish, childish, shreklisch, immature, unprofessional, and chagrinworthy behavior in our culture.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 5:39:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Sherry D. driveled,
>>>>>> Once a person has been thrown out of a place for bad behavior, they usually remain banned. <<<<<<

Dunghill, banning commenters is automatically arbitrary censorship because not every comment from a particular commenter is necessarily going to have a non-arbitrary reason for censorship.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 9:22:00 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Congress is in the process of crafting an Act defending the "Free Flow of Information."

Within the full spectrum of Journalism, one is obliged to acknowledge the effluvia known as Brown and Yellow Journalism.

This is nothing new. Hercules was once obliged to divert a coupla mighty rivers to wash the dunghills out of the Augean Stables.

We seem to have a critical shortage of clean water these days.

We're trying to clean out the effluvia of Brown and Yellow Journalism with the turbid waters of the self-same sewer.

Prolly ain't gonna work.

Friday, October 19, 2007 12:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> Dunghill, banning commenters is automatically arbitrary censorship because not every comment from a particular commenter is necessarily going to have a non-arbitrary reason for censorship. <

Cretin, I see that her clear and simple explanation has, like nearly everything, gone over your head.

Why do you practice arbitrary censorship yourself?

Friday, October 19, 2007 8:36:00 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

The antidote to Freedom of Speech is the Freedom to Not Listen.

This isn't exactly a new idea. Somewhere in the New Testament, Jesus is quoted as saying to the Centurion, "If my words are false, why do you heed them? If my words are true, why do you strike me?"

We seem to have a little bit of both practices here — not heeding on the one hand and verbal smackdown on the other.

I suppose it's customary to not heed verbal smackdowns. Especially if one is inspired by the teachings of Widely Praised Notorious Original Researchers (WP:NOR) like Jesus.

Friday, October 19, 2007 11:53:00 AM  

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