Wednesday, March 8, 2023

First Amendment Rights: The Difference between Journalists and Civilians

Based in an elementary school history lesson, America's image of Freedom of Speech is a mixture of romanticized legend (Federalist Papers, Tombstone Epitaph for example) and irresponsible behavior by those who wield words like guns.  

If you think that is a questionable comparison, let's see how it works.  

Most gun owners keep their firearms well secured and use them only when necessary. It is the overblown concept of 2nd Amendment Rights or  Freedom to Bear Arms that convinces people the Constitution protects and permits their inappropriate use. The 2nd Amendment was never about ultimate power but a necessary protection for hunting food, and protection from natural (rabid animals, Indians, predators) as well as criminal activity.  It was given because in the early days of this country, the government provided no police force or paid army.  A civilian accepted the responsibility of protecting his family and in return the government allowed all people the tools needed to do so.  

Freedom of Speech/Press was offered in the same manner - a civilian right to allow discussion of varied ideas in order to get the best of a community mindset.  It was NOT intended to control the narrative for profit as it does today. 

Like a gun, each person can elect to keep his words locked up and use them only when necessary or use them indiscriminately with harm and carelessness.  That is an individual protection and when misused can be punished in the same way that misuse of a firearm can be handled. 

But today's media is a group of people and companies with a single goal of providing information that people like rather than that which is dry and factual. As individual citizens, reporters have rights. As employees those rights are negated and replaced with a civic responsibility to act ethically and objectively regardless of position or salary amount. 

Sloppy Reporting Undermines Good Government

The election of George Santos and others such as The Squad, Marjorie Taylor Green and Madison Cawthorn should not be laid on the shoulders of voters but on the advertisers and media that clearly published erroneous information then stood behind the First Amendment to escape backlash. At one time, journalists were smart and mindful of the role they played in educating a diverse public. They understood the information they presented and felt the need to explain rather than simply post a piece of fluff. 

Today, America limps along with an unethical government focused on wealth rather than quality of life.  The media that was supposed to call out such a government has become its twin and seeks wealth even to the point of misleading the country.  

In the absence of good leadership and quality reporting, there is no choice but regulation to limit the level of misinformation.