Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Inconvenient First Amendment

First, read this repulsive editorial from the Chicago Tribune...yesterday, they were so proud of it they bannered it on their editorial they buried it down in their blog instead of queueing it onto the list of previous editorials...apparently, one of the few adults who still work at the Tribune read it and realized there's nothing quite as embarrassing as adolescent prose from aging hippies:
Repeal the 2nd Amendment

No, we don’t suppose that’s going to happen any time soon. But it should.

The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is evidence that, while the founding fathers were brilliant men, they could have used an editor.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

If the founders had limited themselves to the final 14 words, the amendment would have been an unambiguous declaration of the right to possess firearms. But they didn’t and it isn’t. The amendment was intended to protect the authority of the states to organize militias. The inartful wording has left the amendment open to public debate for more than 200 years. But in its last major decision on gun rights, in 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously found that that was the correct interpretation.
Some view this court decision as an affirmation of individual rights. But the damage in this ruling is that it takes a significant public policy issue out of the hands of citizens. The people of Washington no longer have the authority to decide that, as a matter of public safety, they will prohibit handgun possession within their borders.

Chicago and the nation saw a decline in gun violence over the last decade or so, but recent news has been ominous. The murder rate in Chicago has risen 13 percent this year. Guns are still the weapon of choice for mayhem in the U.S. About 68 percent of all murders in 2006 were committed with a firearms, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Repeal the 2nd Amendment? Yes, it’s an anachronism.

We won’t repeal the amendment, but at least we can have that debate.

Want to debate whether crime-staggered cities should prohibit the possession of handguns? The Supreme Court has just said, forget about it.
I call for another debate, and unlike the sad remnants of a once-great newspaper, I don't think we need to repeal the First Amendment, but I think we need to consider reasonable restrictions on only a portion of the media.

While newspapers once filled an important role in society, their day has clearly passed. Cable television and the Internet have surplanted their role as newsgathers on an international, national and local scale. Newspapers no longer serve the function for which they were chartered — news — and instead provide a devisive and often harmful counterpoint to the communities they allegedly serve.

How many people are injured each year by incoorect and often malicious reporting? How much damage to the political and cultural body is sustained because of junior reporters, willing to work for the kibble the declining news business pays, attempt to "make their bones?" How much suffering must we put up with before we have this discussion?

The regulations I propose are simple, unobtrusive and will not in any way hinder newspapers' pursuit of whatever their wouldlike to pursue in their declining years:
1) Registration of all reporters and photographers, including a comprehensive list of their equipment allegedly used in "newsgathering." At their option, residences and businesses can post signage banning reporters or photographers from their premises, on penalty of arrest.
2) Because they represent a more "dangerous and unusual" threat, we call for the licensing of editors, including extensive background checks and annual renewals. Editors will not be allowed in public or government buildings or at public gatherings.
4) All newspapers must submit to a minor bit of prior restraint, providing for a review by adults in the newspaper's community before publication. So what that you get Tuesday's news on Wednesday? Youv'e already surfed the Internet for the real news.
5) Editorial page writers become responsible for the ethical, legal and moral consequences of each word they write. If, for example, an editorial leads even indirectly to a person;s death, the writers of that editorial are subject to laws on murder; bad fanancial reporting can leads to charges of conspiracy and grand theft.
Simple and can any right-thinking individual object?


Anonymous said...

That's why the media are idiots. Outside of Cook county there a lot of gun owners and we are pissed. I canceled my subscription.

Anonymous said...

Have you read any of the comments in the Chicago Trib piece? The auther gets blasted by all but 2 responses.

Anonymous said...

Reasonable restrictions on the media - Michael, you are a brilliant man.

Frank W. James said...

Michael: Great proposals and you can also make the arguments these measures are reasonable and to (drumroll...) "...protect the children."

Personally, I think the editorial staff at the Chicago Tribune has been drinking too much of their own bath water.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

If you want a "reason" for the sudden increase crime you only need to look at the ongoing battles between the patrol officers and Mayor Daley's hand picked police leadership.


catfish said...

Why is it that the areas with the highest degree of gun regulation also happen to have the highest crime rates?

Granted, while I was ONLY a staffer on my High School newspaper, and I'm not a professional reporter, I can at the very least, do simple math.

And their math doesn't add up.

Piss on 'em, and let the reporter registration begin!

John Richardson said...

I'd say that reporters's and editorialists's political affiliation must be attached to any story of a political nature.

Lest we forget, it was the Chicago Tribune, acting as a surrogate for B-HO, which sued in 2004 to force open the divorce and custody papers of Jack Ryan, the Republican nominee for US Senate in Illinois. Without this little bit of treachery, we might never have been talking about a President Obama as he well could have remained an obscure state senator and political hack for the Daley machine.

And given that Ryan was the SECOND Obama opponent to be sandbagged over divorce problems in the same election, a responsible newspaper would have left such muckeraking to newspapers like the National Enquirer.

Anonymous said...

We must do this....for the children.

Anonymous said...

Man...if the papers stop flowing what will I start my fires with and clean my windows with!!!!!

Anonymous said...

These are great ideas, but I don't think they go far enough!

In places like Chicago, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, reporters and opinion writers should not be allowed in any public place. When at home, reporters should be required to be disassembled, rendered inoperable and locked up, along with any laptops, steno pads and writing implements. Anyone found in possession of an operable reporter, especially if concealed, should be prosecuted.

For editors, since they are even more dangerous, the only remedy that will do would be an outright nationwide ban on them, especially in national parks and wildlife refuges, and court buildings and post offices.

Now, there are those First Amendment defenders who will say, "When news organizations are outlawed, only outlaws will have news organizations." Who cares? That's practically the case now, anyway.

Anonymous said...

> "But the damage in this ruling is that it takes a significant public policy issue out of the hands of citizens. "
Good point. Wonder how he feels about Roe v Wade.

Unknown said...

i can just hear it now! "how could you even suggest such a thing? only your rights should be denied, not mine."

personally i think it sounds good.

Anonymous said...

Tired of Gun Violence?

To protest the gun violence, clip a local newspaper article reporting a shooting or robbery at gunpoint, save all clippings until the end of every month, and then put them in an envelope addressed to National Rifle Association. To keep your return address anonymous, do not put your return address on it. Use computer print instead of handwriting.