Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Thu, Jul 07 2005

Know Anybody Who Wants To Stay Nobody? You'd Better Reveal Them Or Face Jail

An editorial from The Detroit News reminds us that journalist Judith Miller has been ordered to serve jail time for a story she never even wrote.

The New York Times reported that Judge Thomas F. Hogan compared Ms. Miller's refusal to reveal her confidential source to a child deciding to take a chocolate chip cookie and eat it. First of all, such a thought belittles the actions of those who help keep American citizens informed. Keeping a source confident in the face of doing jail time is not like sneaking and eating a cookie because it tastes good. I respect the work of judges, but I disagree wholeheartedly with this judge's analogy.

If a journalist can be sent to jail for keeping a source confident, even without acting on that information in the course of his or her job as writer and reporter, then so can anyone else in this country. If you know something about a person and you obtained that information from a source who wishes to remain confidential, you are in danger of being jailed. It apparently doesn't matter whether you take action using that information or simply possess the information itself. It only matters that you listened to a secret source and that you refuse to make that source's identity public. If this is Judge Hogan's interpretation of law I'm really dismayed. It does not bode well for Americans. Are you ready to go to jail to protect a principle? It's no longer a hypothetical question in the case of Judith Miller, and because of this precedent, it's no longer a hypothetical question for any of the rest of us who live and work in these United States.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has a counter on their site that shows the amount of time Judith Miller has been incarcerated.

posted at: 11:00 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



A Very Ugly Kind Of Franchise

This is not the first time I've awakened to news of terrorist attacks somewhere on this planet. One man on TV this morning (I did not catch who it was) referred to the continuous desperate acts of splinter groups as an odd type of thinking that was almost that of holding a terrorist "franchise". Since we usually think of a "franchise" in connection with moneymaking ventures, it only strengthened my suspicion that a great number of these deluded people who are willing to kill crowds and even strap bombs to themselves and thrust themselves into crowds to die for their "cause" are really frightened, powerless people who are being manipulated by a few individuals who wish to maintain their own riches and status as glorious leaders.

posted at: 10:52 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!