Freedom of the Press and the Fall of Society
I’ve been doing some thinking lately. It started last week when New York Times reporter Judith Miller was sent to jail, possibly until October, for refusing a court order to reveal her source while investigating the leak of the name of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. The judge in the case sentenced her to jail in hopes of getting her source to allow Miller to reveal his or her name.
An Associated Press report accounted the ordeal in a piece which calls Floyd Abrams a ‘“prominent First Amendment lawyer.’”
‘“Judy is an honorable woman,’” the story reads, ‘“adhering to the highest tradition of her profession and the highest tradition of journalism.’”
Now whether or not you support Miller is another topic, but it undermines all a journalist is meant to be and do when they cannot promise anonymity to their sources. Without source/journalist trust and the with courts refusal to protect journalists in their reporting endeavors I fear that many sources will refuse to reveal information to reporters in the future. Furthermore, if this pattern continues, journalists may shun gathering information from anonymous sources out of fear of being penalized by court orders and law enforcement agencies.
The Supreme Court is refusing to hear Miller’s case, although in the past they have supported journalists in their effort to obtain news and keep their sources private.
So now it seems as if journalists can be used to do the investigative work that our governmental law enforcement agencies are designed to do. And perhaps if the CIA or the FBI would get off their lazy butts and do the job themselves the taxpayers would get what they’re paying for.
Then I got to thinking about other stupid court decisions, namely the Supreme Court’s ruling on eminent domain allowing private businesses to take property if the overall economy would benefit from it. And I got to thinking ‘“What the hell has happened to our Supreme Court?’”
Most of them are conservatives, right? I’m a conservative. But things in this country, I think, are going much further than liberal or conservative. There seems to be a lot of agenda-pushing. Now I know there always has been, and maybe I’m just waking up to it as I get older, but it seems like there are so many people just trying to run over others to get what they want while they can ‘— the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer.
It’s not just the conservative side. Liberals, look at your man Kerry. When push comes to shove I bet he’s staying where the money is.
Over the years I’ve determined that’s what politics is all about ‘— money and crookedness. I remember telling my uncle years ago that he’d better get out and vote, and he told me that politicians and lawyers are just a bunch of crooks and that he doesn’t trust either, so why bother. And I feel that same defeatist attitude creeping up on me. If I vote for this guy then this is going to happen and if I vote for that guy then that will happen.
Then I got to thinking about our brilliant state of North Carolina, with politicians preparing to offer free needles to heroin addicts, and then about Ogi’s story on drugs and how people all around us are doing drugs. So now I’m picturing everybody on something and I wonder who’s hiding what? Why would people what to spend so much on something that does them harm. And then why do they defend it so much? And why is there such a war on drugs when politicians themselves are always getting accused of being on something and law enforcement officers are always getting caught doing drugs themselves? Again, money.
As I’ve watched my daughter grow over the past four years I remember my childhood and long for innocence again. How when I saw someone get shot on TV I felt really bad for the person, or when someone cheated on their spouse I knew it was wrong and couldn’t get past that to finish the rest of the movie. Now there’s not a show on that doesn’t promote violence or sexual promiscuity. And Hollywood? Don’t even get me started on those self-centered idiots.
My belief in humanity has been waning. I could go on and on. Like my Sunday school teacher would say, the world’s going to hell in a hand-basket.
Call me old fashioned, even though I’m not really old enough to be old fashioned. I still respect honesty, integrity and values. Sure, I’ve wavered myself over the years; I’m by no means perfect. But in my head I weigh this out every day, putting the scales to all the activity that goes on around me in the community, in the nation and in the world.
Then, once in a while, I stop and look around me. I have a good job, a nice home, a family who loves me. And, come to think of it, I wouldn’t know where to go to get illegal drugs if I wanted to, and I like that.
To comment on this column, e-mail Lee Adams, firstname.lastname@example.org.