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Blogging All the Way to Jail 465

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the takin-one-for-the-team dept.
Glyn writes "Time magazine is reporting on Josh Wolf the 'first blogger to be targeted by federal authorities for not cooperating with a grand jury.' Josh would have normally been protected from government coercion by California state shield laws but the prosecutors have argued its a federal matter, using quite shaky logic. Josh's blog is being updated by his mother, providing updates on what is happening. From the article: '"Not only does this logic seem silly," Wolf told TIME in June after receiving his final subpoena, "but if unchallenged it will have a deleterious effect on the state protections afforded to many journalists, both independent and those that are part of the established media." Judge William Alsup of Federal District Court rejected Wolf's arguments, and declared him in contempt of court. So he is now being held in a detention center in Dublin, Calif, where he could remain until next July.'"
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Blogging All the Way to Jail

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  • Josh's blog [CC] is being updated by his mother
    In other words, his mother is a gateway.
    • Re:Gateway (Score:2, Interesting)

      Do people in US Jail get access to the Internet? just wondering if there are any Blogs out there from people who are actually inside prison at the time of writing - in the UK you are not allowed internet access - however there are computers.
    • Re:Gateway (Score:5, Insightful)

      by just_another_sean (919159) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:21AM (#15872638) Homepage Journal
      Well I just read TFA and I didn't see a reference to his mother continuing to blog as the reason cited for this being a federal case. My understanding from reading TFA is that the footage that Josh shot was of G8 protestors lighting a police car on fire. Because the Fed Gov gives money to CA for "anti-terrorism" which is then used to fund things like police cars this is now a federal matter. Becasue we all know a guy who is politically active but doesn't agree with the current ruling party is just a half step away from Osama Bin Laden. Especially when he is prone to carryng a video camera with him everywhere he goes.

      We have truly become a police state. In the name of anti-terrorism everything Americans know and love about the USA is quickly dieing.

      It's been quoted a thousand times but I think in this context it bears repeating:

      "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
      Ben Franklin
      1775

      • Re:Gateway (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:40AM (#15872728) Journal
        My understanding from reading TFA is that the footage that Josh shot was of G8 protestors lighting a police car on fire.

        Slight correction, the feds are arguing the footable MIGHT show G8 protesters lighting the car. Josh says there is no such thing on his video. So the federal judge ruled its a federal case, because federal agents speculate that its possible it may show something which if streched as far as possible could be seen as a federal case even though those who have seen the video say it shows no such thing.
        That seems a VERY low threshold for over-riding the states jurisdiction.
        • Re:Gateway (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Manitcor (218753) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:14AM (#15873424) Homepage
          Im not sure what your definition is, but here [answers.com] are [thefreedictionary.com] a [laborlawtalk.com] few definitions [wikipedia.org] to keep you occipied.

          FWIW this man is a journalist and by the most technical means ANYONE holding a camera recording footage to be reported to the general public is a journalist. Not just someone who gets a paycheck from a major news media company.

          This is what is sad about our country these days, people assume that to do things, even simple things you must be registered and have some form of permission from some higher power. This is supposed to be a free country not free so long as its ok with mommy Administrative branch and daddy Judicial branch. Sadly thats what we are coming to.
          • Re:Gateway (Score:5, Insightful)

            by JabberWokky (19442) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @11:22AM (#15874057) Homepage Journal
            More important than definitions, here's legal precedence [wikipedia.org].

            Although it doesn't seem to support what most people think... basically anybody can be required to testify in front of a grand jury. In the courtroom, the first amendment doesn't give special rights to the press. And in a position that you might want to think about before replying, I agree. There should be no special legal benefits given to a citizen over another citizen based on their profession. I find it amazing that most people here are happy with giving special legal shelter to a "special class" of citizen.

            Equality under the law should apply to all citizens.

            --
            Evan

            • Re:Gateway (Score:4, Insightful)

              by JabberWokky (19442) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @11:39AM (#15874209) Homepage Journal
              Lest my point be misconstrued, I'm not advocating that people should be forced to testify on a whim. In fact, I'd say that "everybody is equal to the press", and the criteria should be fairly high to compel testimony from any citizen.

              Anybody can fire up a blog and become the press -- and many people on the in public carry a digital camera or video recorder at all times as part of their cell phone. I think that rather than dispensing special rights to a "special class" that is becoming less and less distinguishable from the public, we should re-examine why and under what circumstances any citizen is compelled to give testimony.

              --
              Evan

              • Re:Gateway (Score:3, Informative)

                by sumdumass (711423)
                Not exactly anyone. First, all the state shield laws define who is intended to protect. IE, it says who is and who isn't considered a reporter, press ect.

                I didn't realize there was such a difference in legal definitions until someone pointed me to this page. [rcfp.org] More can be found here [rcfp.org]. In california though, he seems to be considered a jounalist for a number of reasons but the most compelling is that a news agency already purchased some of his work reguarding this.

                If some one witnessed a crime first hand, I don'
      • How many of you have read any of the court documents on his site? Clicking on the Grand Jury link (top of page) and scrolling to the bottom, you have a reverse chronological list of events in the case. One of the PDFs [joshwolf.net], "Reply to US Attorney's Opposition to Quash", has on page 2 a quote from David Picard of the FBI saying, "One of our major domestic terrorism programs is the ALF, EFF, and anarchist movement, and it's a nation program for the FBI." So let me get this straight: The EFF are terrorists? hah! I t
  • Well (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zoomshorts (137587) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:46AM (#15872528)
    "The feds say they have jurisdiction over the case because the police car is partly U.S. government property since the S.F.P.D. receives federal anti-terrorism money."

    This is like saying that since I am an American citizen, that there is some portion of the collective
    "Amreican Dream/Resources" that is owned by ME, and I have the say , to be able to stop the government
    from drilling in Alaska or anywhere, and selling MY portion of the public reosurces to anyone. Hmmmm.
    • Re:Well (Score:3, Funny)

      by cowboy76Spain (815442)
      It is called "voting"
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:53AM (#15872546) Homepage Journal
      the Feds, backed by their "own" courts consistently use the idea that if Federal money is involved, no matter how loosely, that this trumps state's rights. This is primarily used to force "unfunded/underfunded mandates" on the states.

      I totally disagree with the tactics being used to force the video to be made available. At the same time I think its wrong to cover up a crime because of one's beliefs. If you videotape a crime then you are obligated to report it. There can be none of this "its okay for us but not them mentality" because we are all us and them at the same time.

      He claims there is no crime on the tape, fine, then show it and be done with it. Get it to a public outlet. If there is a crime then he just publicity hounding and forcing an issue that should never had occured.

      Hopefully the Feds will lose this attempt to secure the tape but at the same time hopefully he will turn it over to someone if it shows a crime being committed. Willful destruction of property should not be tolerated in any state, free or not. If you cannot protest without destroying someone else's property you need to be locked up as your not a productive part of society let alone doing your cause any good.
      • by kfg (145172) * on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:01AM (#15872571)
        He claims there is no crime on the tape, fine, then show it and be done with it.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO [wikipedia.org]

        Some of us remember.

        KFG
        • Thank you.

          The number of people replying "Just show the tape, if it has no crimes" in this thread really bothers me. It bothers me because of the shortsightedness/lack of history awareness they show.

          Operations such as cointelpro are almost certainly continuing to operate. People like Josh Wolf are the targets. The people most likely to be on his tapes are his friends, family & associates.

          If he hands over these tapes, he can expect everyone on them to be harassed. Frankly, thank the gods for people like him - they stand between us & a far more opressive world.
      • by mikelieman (35628) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:10AM (#15872596) Homepage
        "If you videotape a crime then you are obligated to report it. "

        That cuts both ways, but as we've seen, NYPD among others has a habit of providing EDITED TAPES when supoeaed.

        IF you want to hold The People to a standard, FIRST hold The Man to it.

      • by Kaktrot (962696) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:45AM (#15872751)
        At the same time I think its wrong to cover up a crime because of one's beliefs. If you videotape a crime then you are obligated to report it.

        If you are a journalist covering a riot, or any large social diturbance, you are going to see crimes. If you can be compelled to show criminals on the tape, then pretty soon no journalist will cover such things for fear of retribution from the rioters, who know that the guy taping them will have to hand his tape over to the feds. Not much longer, and there won't be any tapes of such things. If you took it to an extreme, we'd have a Tiananmen Square sort of deal, only for slightly different reasons.

      • If there is a crime then he just publicity hounding and forcing an issue that should never had occured.

        Yeah, that worked SO well for Judith Miller's career. It seems the likelihood of some journalism-martyrdom-phoenix incentive scenario for getting incarcerated for not letting authority get what it wants as being pretty thin here.

      • And if you happen to get footage of any uppity nigras sitting in the front of busses, it's your patriotic duty to hand it in to the FBI.
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Phreakiture (547094) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:44AM (#15872746) Homepage

      If the police car in question is federal property because some federal funds went towards its purchase, then it logically follows that the folks who allegedly set it on fire were burning their own property, because, as taxpayers, they own the federal government.

      As the latter part of that argument doesn't hold water, neither should the former.

      • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:44AM (#15873682) Homepage
        If the police car in question is federal property because some federal funds went towards its purchase, then it logically follows

        that the feds partially own everything bought by any city or state agency who in any way receive any form of money from any federal agency, and that all of those things are under federal jurisdiction.

        As your post so nicely points out, that is patently absurd.

        Hopefully someone can stop this line of reasoning and have it declared illegal very quickly. Or else, the feds will be able to claim jurisdiction for practically anything, at any time, merely because they wish to, and the agency in question received some federal moneys at some point. So much for the Constitution.

        Watching America become a friggin' police state is very troubling, and I'm not even American.
      • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by susano_otter (123650) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @12:39PM (#15874684) Homepage
        If the police car in question is federal property because some federal funds went towards its purchase, then it logically follows that the folks who allegedly set it on fire were burning their own property, because, as taxpayers, they own the federal government.

        They weren't burning their own property. They were burning our property. We have rules about who gets to burn police cars, and where, and when, and how. Personally, I fucking hate it when someone decides that the rules apply to everybody except them. They want to change our rules, let them discuss it with the rest of us, so that we can all agree on the changes. If they're not going to do that, then as far as I'm concerned, they've separated themselves from the rest of us, and no longer have any claim on our joint assets and privileges. The sooner our executive agents throw the book at these asshats, the better.
  • I don't know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cdrudge (68377) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:56AM (#15872554) Homepage
    I guess I know know what to think. On one hand, I agree with Josh in that if current laws say that unpublished work can remain confidential. I think that gets diminished a little when get selectively chooses to show clips of the video, but I probably agree with his side of the argument, at least in principal.

    However, I see the flip side where a crime was committed (the burning of the police car) and the police have a right and duty to investigate the crime. At least from the Time write-up it wasn't like the police crashed his colo, forcible removed his servers, etc. It was a grand jury that subpoenaed him for the evidence. That's their job. Josh had the right to ignore the subpoena to which the Judge charged him with contempt.

    I won't argue that saying it's a federal issue because SFPD gets federal funding is a little shady. Every government organization gets federal funding in some way so every government lawsuit should be transferred to federal court. The whole jurisdiction issue aside, it seems to me that things are working as they are suppose to. If you don't like how the laws are written, that's fine, then lobby to get them changed. But don't bitch and moan when the letter of the law is followed.
    • Re:I don't know (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) * on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:05AM (#15872580)
      The whole jurisdiction issue aside, it seems to me that things are working as they are suppose to.

      Jurisdiction is the issue.

      KFG
    • Re:I don't know (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nutrock69 (446385) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:08AM (#15872592)
      - If you don't like how the laws are written, that's fine, then lobby to get them changed.

      I'm sorry - I seem to be missing the millions of dollars necessary to hire someone to bribe a politician and get a bad law changed. Regular people simply don't have this option available.

      Someone else said that we have this thing called 'voting'. I am honestly wondering when the last time was that voting actually mattered in the US. Every election we get the same rhetoric, shoveled in, then shoveled out. If the office changes residents, the new guy continues the job exactly like the old guy because he/she/it is afraid to change the status quo or to upset their party line. Voting doesn't change shit, it only changes the shovel.
      • Re:I don't know (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:45AM (#15872754)
        Maybe, if we all chip in we could afford a senator? Needn't be a big one, maybe one from a small state would do.
      • Re:I don't know (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:45AM (#15872756) Homepage Journal
        I am honestly wondering when the last time was that voting actually mattered in the US.


        Several incumbent Congress folks were voted out of office yesterday. The three that I know of are Joe Lieberman (over 18 years in the Senate), Cynthia McKinney and Joe Schwarz (1-term Republican from Michigan).

        It also appears that Rick Santorum, Senator from my state, will be unseated this fall unless the new electronic voting machines can be surrepticiously rigged after testing (which seems to be very thorough thanks to Carnegie Mellon University professor Michael Shamos). See this article [post-gazette.com] which gives a brief background of him.

        The key is that those fat, lazy, apathetic people who, like you apparently, don't feel their vote count, get up and vote out the incumbents. Once the incumbents are removed, if things don't improve, vote out the ones you just put in. Keep doing that until the message sinks in.

        Of course being that we only have a ~30% voter turnout this will never happen and people will continue to whine that their vote doesn't matter. Which it won't if you don't get off your fat, lazy ass and cast a vote.

        • Re:I don't know (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheGreek (2403)
          Several incumbent Congress folks were voted out of office yesterday. The three that I know of are Joe Lieberman
          Joe didn't get "voted out of office." He simply failed to get his party's nomination for re-election.

          Fortunately for Joe, the election in November is for "United States Senator from Connecticut" instead of "United States Senator from the Democratic Party of Connecticut."
        • Re:I don't know (Score:3, Interesting)

          by walt-sjc (145127)
          Several incumbent Congress folks were voted out of office yesterday.

          No. These were primaries. They don't get "voted out" until the November elections. Lieberman for example will now run as an independant, so don't cout him out yet. Not sure what his chances are, but he WAS one of the few moderates out there that has bi-partisan support.

          Most primaries actually have very low voter turnout, so it's fairly easy for this kind of thing to happen.
        • Re:I don't know (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nutrock69 (446385)
          - The key is that those fat, lazy, apathetic people who, like you apparently, don't feel their vote count, get up and vote out the incumbents.

          Just because I feel my vote is being ignored doesn't mean I don't vote. I do vote. Every election. And when I vote this fall, I will doing my damnedest to help unseat Santorum - just like you (you didn't say how you'd be voting, but we can all hope).

          We live in a society where we are told from early childhood that "Every Vote Counts", yet we have a presidential elec
      • Re:I don't know (Score:5, Informative)

        by kthejoker (931838) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @09:08AM (#15872880)
        Politicians are much, much cheaper than that.

        You can get $600,000 in sweetheart deals just by donating $40,000 to a House campaign. [irregulartimes.com] Oh, and note that that's 25 people giving money, not 1 person.

        Sure, two grand a person is a lot for representation, but look at the ROI. And it would only take 4,000 people donating $10 each to a cause to get this kind of treatment. Or 400 people giving $100 each.
    • The thing is, the jurisdictional issue is the core of the case. If the case was under state jurisdiction, the state shield laws would protect him from prosecution arising from his refusal to turn over unpublished material. But because they managed to wriggle into federal jurisdiction, they don't have to content with the state shield laws.

      If you don't like how the laws are written, that's fine, then lobby to get them changed. But don't bitch and moan when the letter of the law is followed.

      The problem is
    • You bring up an excellent question about him selectively choosing to show certain clips of a video. What does this say of independent journalism as a the new competitor to Foxes and CNN's of the world? When indie journalists are mangling the truth of a report to further their own agendas, how are we to have any faith that a new media will prevail and be any better for that matter. They're simply acting as those before them have.

      I also look at it from the perspective that a journalist has a responsiblity
    • Re:I don't know (Score:5, Informative)

      by ray-auch (454705) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:16AM (#15872617)
      If you don't like how the laws are written, that's fine, then lobby to get them changed. But don't bitch and moan when the letter of the law is followed

      Two sets of laws are in conflict here, question is which do you follow. Federal law is trying to get him to do something (turn over video) that state law explicitly says he does not have to do.

      The ("a little shady") jurisdiction question is everything, you can't just say "jurisdiction issue aside..." because it is the issue.

  • Compensation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:56AM (#15872555)
    You can count on this: when all is said and done, this guy will not be compensated in any way for government's attack on his god-given right to freedom. He will be treated like a suspect even after he is found to be innocent. Makes you feel good about living under big government, doesn't it?
  • Fund this now! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zeropointburn (975618) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:03AM (#15872575) Journal
    This is flatly outrageous. If every one of us gives a buck to this guy's legal fund, we could actually change federal policy. Even if the court rules that the feds acted properly, it's only a buck. Instead of a soda or a scratch ticket, try gambling on something important today.
    • Re:Fund this now! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rolfwind (528248)
      I'm afraid a buck isn't enough anymore. Not if you value your liberties.

      Give $10 bucks instead each month to the EFF or ACLU or whatever of your choice. Do it at the cost of watching 1 less crappy movie per month, and on the plus side it will give the MPAA just a little less funding to attack our liberties at the same time.

      I know it's asking for more, but for people who actually go through the effort of giving and if their time is worth anything, the difference between a dollar and $10 should be negligibl
      • by njdj (458173) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @09:53AM (#15873251)

        Give $10 bucks instead each month to the EFF or ACLU or whatever

        One of the reasons the government has successfully eliminated many rights which we thought were guaranteed by the Constitution, is that there has been no focus of opposition.

        The ACLU should have focussed our attention on the violations as they happened. But the ACLU is very partisan. For example, it opposed [centerdigitalgov.com] the recall of Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat, in California, on completely spurious grounds. It should keep out of party politics. People who care deeply about the Bill of Rights can be found among Republicans as well as among Democrats, and we need all such people. The ACLU drove them away, by this and many other campaigns.

        By all means support the EFF, by the way, though I'm not sure it's as relevant to this particular case as a properly-functioning ACLU would have been.

        • by demonbug (309515) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @04:05PM (#15876280) Journal
          To be clear, the article you linked to said absolutely nothing about the ACLU being opposed to the recall of Gray Davis. What the article you linked to said was that the ACLU argued that the vote should be delayed until counties still using the punch card system deemed unreliable after the 2000 vote were able to bring better systems online. According to your article, the ACLU's lawsuit was only concerned with ensuring that all votes would be recorded as accurately as possible.

          In slightly more depth; the ACLU did not "oppose" the recall election, they were instead attempting to ensure that each person who bothered to cast a vote had their vote counted. At that time it had been mandated that new voting machines be in place before the next general election, but 12 counties had not yet complied with the order (since they still had a significant amount of time before the next "regularly scheduled" election was to take place). The ACLU was pointing out that since the recall election would take place before the 12 counties wouold be able to get their act together, resulting in another election with wide-rannging impacts potenitally being decided by voting machines officially considered unreliable, the election should be delayed until those counties were able to comply.

          Like usual, the right then jumped all over them (as you do) for getting involved in party politics, when in fact they were doing what they have done incredibly consistently in the past - attempting to protect the civil liberties that we enjoy, regardless of what narrow group it will harm or help in the short term. The ACLU is functioning perfectly well; the problem is that people like you consistently mis-interpret their fights to protect our basic rights and liberties in terms of who they are helping or hurting short-term; the same people who say how evil the ACLU is when they fight, for example, for the freedom of speech of groups that are widely despised.
  • So what happens if there ISN'T said footage of the police car on his unpublished films when they steal them from him. Do they just go, "Oh, well that's a bummer!"? Heh.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:07AM (#15872586) Journal
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit that advocates for the public interest and digital rights, is more pointed by suggesting that do-it-yourself media creators should use technology to help conceal their real identities online.
    The solution to the lack of a free press is to publish anonymously?

    Anyone who still believes that we retain those rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights is off his rocker. Something tells me the US is in need of a (peaceful) revolution in order to shake out the evils that are festering.

    Without a free press, really, what are we basing this 'democracy' on?
    • by Shihar (153932) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:25AM (#15872655)
      The US is still a democracy. Revolutions are simple. Get more then 50% of the vote. Get more then 2/3 the vote and you can completely rewrite the government to whatever you damn well please.

      I always find the notion that the US needs a new "revolution" laughable. The US has a functional system already in place to allow revolution. Believe me, getting a 50% or even 2/3 majority is a hell of a lot easier then trying armed rebellion or even a drawn out peaceful demonstration. The issue in the United States is not the oppressed masses. The issue in the United States is the indifferent masses.

      If you can't get the average American off their lazy ass to spend a single hour of their time to vote for a candidate, you can pretty much rest assured that you won't get them off their lazy asses for any sort of "revolution", peaceful or otherwise.

      Hell, you don't even need to get 2/3 or 50% of the population to vote in your favor. You need to get 2/3 of the VOTING population to vote for you. If you optimistically assume that 50% of Americans who can vote do vote, that means that you need only 25% of the population that can vote to take control of the government. With a paltry 33% of the people who can vote voting in your favor, you can completely rewrite the government and constitution.

      Americans don't need a "revolution". They need to get off their lazy asses and vote if they don't like what they see.
      • by $1uck (710826) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:40AM (#15872732)
        Are you a US citizen? I don't mean to sound rude, but your post oozes with idealism and a certain lack in understanding of how US politics works. You seem to understand how its supposed to work, but it doesn't work this way. There are two political parties in power that for all intents and purposes might as well be one. They do a really good job of keeping all the power to themselves and locking out any independants/third parties. They both claim to have differing agendas (and to a small degree actually do), but when it comes to anyone proposing some real change it won't happen. The US is in need of a revolution something to streamline and open the government. You call american voters indifferent, wouldn't you be indifferent if your only choices were coke and pepsi and you really wanted something altogether different than a cola?
        • All of which is entirely immaterial to the GP's point, which is simple:

          If you can't get people to vote, how can you possibly get them to rebel?

          If you don't get that, consider this: Let's say you started a massive campaign aimed at all those disenfranchised voters that you somehow think will revolt given the opportunity. Your message is simple: "vote my party in, and we'll change the way the system works". Now, all you need is > 50% of the voting public in each district to respond. What do you think
      • by Speare (84249)

        Grassroots democracy and mass public relations campaigns basically break down somewhere between 10e6 and 10e8. Why? Taking it in physics terms, the inertia of the sheeple outweighs even a huge and aware minority.

        Major corporations can laugh with derision at any sort of boycott. Does Disney cower when Dobbson's flock yell about Gay Day at the parks? Can five hundred small towns bring Wal*Mart to the mat when Wal*Mart dangles a carrot of a few hundred underpaid, underinsured jobs each?

        You're never go

  • by Shihar (153932) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:11AM (#15872598)
    This guy has evidence of a crime. Now, in this case it is a crime against the state so people are not terrible sympathetic. Not being sympathetic with the state is as American as guns and apple pie, but people are talking a guy being jailed for not exposing a crime against the state like it is some high moral battle.

    What if the role was reversed? What if some pro-police blogger had a video up of protesters getting the shit kicked out of them by police? What if the Rodney King beating had been posted online with the identities of the police officers edited out on a blog? Would we still then be so adamant that a media shield is the best thing?

    What if this guy had received a tape of a 12 year old girl getting raped, edited out the rapist, and then posted it onto his blog. Would people still be so adamant that he deserves some sort of media shield?

    I think that people are applying the "common sense" test instead of really thinking through the implications of media shield laws, especially in a world where everyone can be the media. It is "common sense" that he would have to give up a video of a little girl getting raped, but not "common sense" that he has to give up a video of a police car being destroyed.

    I like the idea of media shield laws to some extent. The press absolutely is an invaluable tool in the regulation of democracy. That said, there needs to be a coherent and consistent approach to such shield laws.

    For those who believe that this man is being jailed unfairly, what do you propose the law be? Should the media never be forced to give up evidence of a crime, even in extreme cases like rape and murder? Should some crimes be protected by media shield laws and others not protected?
    • What if this guy had received a tape of a 12 year old girl getting raped, edited out the rapist, and then posted it onto his blog. Would people still be so adamant that he deserves some sort of media shield?

      Why does the victim have to be 12, and why a girl? You're setting up a straw man.

      If Wolf was a big media corporation, the feds would never have bothered to file a subpoena. He's going to jail because they don't want citizen journalism, it's that simple. The tape is just an excuse.

      • by TheGreek (2403) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:29AM (#15872669)
        If Wolf was a big media corporation, the feds would never have bothered to file a subpoena. He's going to jail because they don't want citizen journalism, it's that simple.

        Oh, really now? [msn.com]
      • Why does the victim have to be 12, and why a girl? You're setting up a straw man.

        Why 12 years old and why a girl? Because it is an extreme example of the law that designed specifically provoke people into thinking through the whole implication of shield laws. 12 year old girls getting raped tends to be produce deep disgusted and a complete lack of sympathy in most people, while burning a cop car really doesn't result in all that many tears for most. The point isn't to change anyone's mind, but to make pe
        • You have already assumed there *IS* evidence of a crime on those tapes. That has yet to be shown. The shield laws were designed to protect those that come forward to the press that would not do so otherwise. It is a required part of our system of government. An informed electorate requires a truly free and protected press. That can't be possible when those in power use that power to intimidate. And what if the tape is only an excuse for a fishing expedition on the part of the police / prosecution and has no
    • by mgblst (80109) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:26AM (#15872658) Homepage
      The world is not this simple. It is not black or white. Analogy are fine for helping to describe something, or explain something, but not for judging whether something is right or wrong.

      That is why we have judges in a court of law, because there are a number of ways of interpreting the law as well as criminal actions.

      You comparison of a police car on fire, to the rape of a 12 year old girl are so different, that it disgusting of you to even try to compare them. It cheapens the whole debate. Might as well bring in Nazis concentration camps as well.
      • Why did this worthless ad hominem attack get modified as "insightful"?

        The parent poster did not employ any analogies. The parent poster gave several different cases of applying a journalist shield law, and correctly said that we can't just have a policy of picking the cases we like, and excluding the cases we don't like. Having judges apply their own arbitrary preferences does not help at all. That would just mean handing arbitrary power to a state official.

        What we need is a rule for distinguishing between
    • What if?

      What if?

      But it's not. The what ifs always change the situation.

      I need not bring up watergate, where deepthroat was breaking laws as well (on his part) and the reporters sucessfully protected his identity - a man that I'm sure the government would have loved to prosecute for leaking state secrets or some such.
    • "For those who believe that this man is being jailed unfairly, what do you propose the law be?"

      Regardless of one thinks the law _should_ be, if he is imprisoned against current law it is unfair.
    • I agree with what you say about common sense. Some people equate common sense with experience. But in this case, like many that we see every day, common sense is just a euphemism for an unreasoned conclusion.

      I believe that journalists deserve protection, not for who they are, but for what they do. What must be protected are the freedoms of free press and free speech, not some elevated Fourth Estate, or some bohemian class of Observers. Rules for protecting press and speech need to be applied in a co

    • According to Josh there is no evidence of crime on the tape. Don't mistake the power of blogging for some amateurish attempt at mimicking the media. When our country was founded, by people who would be called terrorists today BTW, the people who got the word out were amateur journalists publishing pamphlets and newsletters. Whatever your political views today you would be a fool to suggest we take the power for regular Joes like you and me to publish news. If you take the time to put something together that
      • When our country was founded, by people who would be called terrorists today

        Nice. I missed the part where Washington employeed suicide bombers, or targeted the citizens of Philadelphia to death for being insufficiently pro-rebellion, or where Ben Franklin used sabotage to attack London, or where Patrick Henry cut the balls off captured British soldiers. But other than that, yeah, the American rebels were complete terrorists.
    • Yes, yes, yes and yes.

      Either freedom of speech is or isn't. There is no "what if". Would you require your priest to talk to the police about confessions? What if a murderer talked about it in confession, would you require the priest to talk? If so, what about the freedom of confession?

      If you DO require journalists and priests to hand over whatever they learn about, the result will be, in the short term, a few more crimes reported and solved. In the long run, it leads to fewer crimes even being uncovered. Wh
    • What if some pro-police blogger had a video up of protesters getting the shit kicked out of them by police? What if the Rodney King beating had been posted online with the identities of the police officers edited out on a blog?

      They still shouldn't have to give up the tapes if they don't want to. If someone records a video and will be required to release it (and they don't want to), then they either won't record the video, or edit it and put out the edited version anonymously, or destroy it when they're do

    • Okay, so maybe shield laws suck. Maybe not. But if the state of California has one, it has to abide by it. Playing jurisdictional games that make a mockery of the law to circumvent a shield law is entirely unacceptable. If you really want to change this, then you should convince the people of California that they need to repeal or modify their shield laws using the arguments you outlined above instead of posting them on Slashdot to justify the blatant falsehoods being perpetrated by a judge to circumven
  • by Anonymous Bullard (62082) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:36AM (#15872703) Homepage
    Meanwhile in Chinese-occupied Tibet a 29-year-old Tibetan teacher and writer, Dolma Kyab, was sentenced to 10 years in prison where the Tibetans are invariably infected with tuberculosis and other serious heath problems (besides the usual other forms of "mistreatment" by guards) for... having written a book which wasn't even published!


    Details of such a heinous thought crime can be found here [phayul.com].

    In the past the US of A took a much stronger stand against such obscene human rights violations by the Chinese regime and other dictatorships, but it is very clear that the current regime in Washington has neither the intention nor moral standing to help oppressed and occupied peoples. You see, the dictators in Beijing are among Bush's "staunchest allies" in this bizarre "global war of terror" where the occupied and the oppressed are considered to be the "terrorists"!

    Dubya's inaugural address (2005) [whitehouse.gov] now reads like a sad mockery of the Freedoms the USA used to claim to be representing:


    Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:


    All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

    Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.


    The six million Tibetans living in the world largest concentration camp they once knew as their homeland meanwhile haven't even got a clue that the "world's most powerful man and the leader of the Free World" ever uttered those words. Even possessing a copy of the UN's Human Rights Declaration is enough to get a Tibetan slammed into the Chinese prison camps...

  • by CXI (46706)
    Is the government trying to silence this guy? Have they confiscated his footage without leaving him a copy? Are they trying to change the story he's reporting? Are they locking him up for his political views?

    No, no, no and no. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. The courts have ask him to produce video footage of a crime that he witnessed and he has refused. That's exactly the same as lying in court and it carries a penalty of jail time. This has absolutely nothing to do with the First Amendment so it's no
    • No, no, no (Score:5, Informative)

      by phorm (591458) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @11:40AM (#15874218) Journal
      The courts have ask him to produce video footage of a crime that he witnessed and he has refused

      NO. The courts are trying to get him to produce video of a crime that he supposedly witnessed. In fact, even when the video is turned in it might have no burning cars at all... but what it might have are the faces and identities of a bunch of protestors for the police to happily round up and put thumbscrews to. How often nowadays is being within the vicinity of lawbreakers seen as being involved with them, pretty damn often.

      On for the record, the state laws do allow him to with-hold the tape, which is why the government has gone to dubious stretches of logic to make it a federal issue.
  • Turning the tables (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pandrijeczko (588093) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @09:43AM (#15873172)
    Now let's imagine a different scenario...

    Josh Wolf's mother gets stabbed in the street and the attacker is caught on a video camera by someone who refuses to hand over the video tape.

    What's Josh going to want to happen THEN?

  • by Serveert (102805) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:40AM (#15873634)
    you have all 3 branches of government.

    It means you pay a lot of lip service to state's rights.
  • by bodland (522967) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @12:03PM (#15874422) Homepage
    Under new "laws" (decrees) being drafted by Bush minions they can simply declare him a enemy combatant, torture him and the find him guilty in a secret military tribunal.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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