Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Sun, Mar 06 2005

Loose Talk And Liberty

Dan Gillmor and others have already commented on the recent trouble of the bloggers who revealed information about future products from Apple Computer. A California judge felt that the sites on which the bloggers write don't qualify the writers as journalists. The obvious slippery slope this type of thing presents has already been noted on Write Lightning and on many other blogs. Pressure against those who report and comment in any public forum may be a wedge to crackdown on the freedom of the average citizen to speak his or her mind without being interrogated or intimidated. If these things begin to be played out in a court of law we're going to see a battle over what free speech is in both written and spoken word.

Although it has no direct bearing on the Apple Computer case, the gag order that affected comedian Jay Leno might sound funny to some, but it's really another free speech issue. This man's work is comedy. Because of circumstances (that he didn't create) that resulted in his being subpoened to testify in a trial, a court order has interrupted his ability to do his job.

Do you want a court to tell you what jokes you can listen to? How about what jokes a comedian can tell his or her audience? Do you want a court to tell you that only some people should be defended as professional journalists while using a yardstick that no longer covers the broad scope of present-day journalism? If you don't speak out for freedom of speech right now, they'll start with the high-profile people. But someday it will be your turn to answer for you associations, your opinions, your whereabouts and your knowledge. First Amendment protection was instituted long before there were online blogs and TV comedy stand-up routines. Let's not lose the principle of these freedoms now by thinking they're only for someone special circumstances. Please let your representatives know how you feel, even if you disagree with my particular take on the matter.

posted at: 19:46 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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