Dick Durbin’s Dangerous Idea
Politicians think in terms of institutions. If you identify yourself as an individual, a mere citizen, pfft: you’re nothing. But say you are from a lobbying group, or a government bureau, or a news organization — suddenly you matter.
That’s even how they interpret the Constitution.
They are wrong.
Back in May, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin expressed doubt whether “bloggers, or ‘someone who is Tweeting,’ should be given media shield rights.” He believes a big unanswered question looms:
What is a journalist today in 2013? We know it’s someone that works for Fox or AP, but does it include a blogger? Does it include someone who is tweeting? Are these people journalists and entitled to constitutional protection?
Durbin thinks he’s both clever and profound to ask “21st century questions about a provision in our Constitution that was written over 200 years ago.”
But he is actually missing the whole enchilada, the point of the Constitution.
First, our two-century old freedoms don’t have an expiration date. Second, individuals have rights, not “institutions.” And not because we belong to a group. Either everyone has a basic right, or no one does.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds countered Durbin’s institutional prejudice with a fine piece in the New York Post, where he takes a common sense position: “a journalist is someone who’s doing journalism, whether they get paid for it or not.”
Reynolds reminds us that, in James Madison’s time, “it was easy to be a pamphleteer . . . and there was real influence in being such.”
Just so for today’s Tweeters and bloggers.
Hey: as far as I’m concerned, you’re being a journalist just for commenting on this at ThisIsCommonSense.com.
I’m Paul Jacob.