Josh Wolf- Free Speech hero or hoser?
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
There is a Hot Air Vent today about blogger Josh Wolf and his refusal to turn footage he took of a violent protest over to a grand jury. An officer was seriously injured and they want to review his footage to gain evidence regarding that crime. The legal justification they are using is pretty flimsy as they are claiming protesters ended up lighting a police car on fire and since they get federal funds to buy cars etc., that makes it a federal issue and they can sidestep state journalist shield laws. That may or may not be true, but the issue is whether someone can be compelled to turn over information or media they have simply because police or a grand jury want to see it.
I wondered what I would do in a similar case, and I believe I would turn over the footage because it could help solve a violent crime. But I am not so sure I would want the government able to compel me to. Change the situation to a legalize pot rally where I have footage of bands of free range hippies wandering around a park smokin' dope and listening to Widespread Panic. What if Officer Friendly wanted to peruse my footage so he could scarf up said hippies and soak them with fines to buy new jackboots with? Would I turn over my video then? I kinda doubt it, and that calls the whole idea into question.
I don't think there is any doubt that what we do here qualifies as journalism and that bloggers deserve the same protections the jackals of the MSM abuse. I think Mr. Wolf owes society the decency of turning over the footage in order to allow the attacker(s) of the injured officer to be punished. I don't believe he should be required to do so upon pain of punishment.
And I have to join Allah in saluting the Qualifications of the Vent hosts, Bravo!