Saturday, November 21, 2009

Would Ben Franklin have supported Josh Wolf? No!

The Josh Wolf story, an independent journalist that was jailed for failing to comply with a court order to surrender videotape of a 2005 San Francisco protest, is a story about freedom of the press. It's a story that raises the importance of balance between constitutional rights and the law.

Wolf refused to let police view his video, claiming journalistic privilege, while also protecting sources that were promised anonymity. He went to jail when he stood his ground and kept his promises.

Let reporters report and let the people decide. Life isn't simple in a democracy. Where is the balance struck between our right to know, and the government's need to withhold certain information so that it can accomplish certain things, like national security agendas?

The checks and balances that catalyze a democracy, will probably always collide with the foundational freedoms of our constitution. It's a complicated dance and the steps change all the time.

I feel that our need to know will always trump the government's need to control. History repeatedly proves that the government always finds a way to get around the constitution. Sometimes they get caught and sometimes they don't.

It doesn't matter what laws we profess to abide by, people will always talk about what they want to talk about. Information cannot be suppressed if it inflames the citizenry.

When government imposes their agenda to usurp the freedom of the press, people should be concerned. I think that we should always question government, but especially when they get heavy-handed with the freedom of information like they did with Josh Wolf.

On the other hand, the police wanted Wolf's video to find criminals that tried to torch a cop car. Wolf refused and he went to jail. Criminals should be punished and Wolf should've allowed his film to be viewed. Otherwise, he's impeding a police investigation. That's not cool! Law enforcement has a tough job and he could have helped. It gives the appearance of aiding in a crime, as if his footage in fact did show who lit the fire.

Maybe he's actually guilty and deserved to go to jail. Like I said, the dance steps change everyday. Josh danced his dance and now he's out with greater fame than his blog ever got him. I don't feel so bad for him.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Pardon me, but you must be unaware of a few things regarding my case.

1) There was nothing on my tape that indicated who, in your words, tried to torch a police car — which incidentally only suffered a broken taillight.

2)I also offered to screen the video for the judge to determine whether there was anything about the crime on it. He refused.

If the US Department of Justice wanted my video and testimony for the sole purpose of identifying dissidents, which is what I believe. Then do you think Ben Franklin would have supported me?

Interestingly enough, I grew up with a guy named Ben Franklin. I should ask him how he feels about my decision...