By Daniel Ford
I tried really hard to shrug off the legislation put forward by South Carolina legislator Mike Pitts that would register journalists the state found “responsible.”
It’s a Presidential election year; politicians, pollsters, lobbyists, and voters engage in all manner of dopey things. However, Pitts’ bill, ominously named the “South Carolina Responsible Journalism Registry Law,” is so insidious and ill conceived that I’m surprised J.J. Abrams didn’t feature it as a Sith plan in “The Force Awakens.”
You’d have to admire Pitts’ cojones if not for the document’s blatant fascism and disregard for the First Amendment.
I’m not sure where someone born and raised in a democracy would think “rounding up” people (of any race, creed, occupation, etc.) is a good idea. Oh wait, of course I do! We’ve had a bad habit in this country of grouping “others” we don’t agree with (or who are in our way) and shuttling them off into the wilderness. Native Americans had the audacity to want to remain on their land, so our recently arrived ancestors provided enough small pox and whiskey to lull them (aka threaten them with extinction) into the wastelands of Oklahoma and points west. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, so why not incarcerate innocent Japanese-American citizens in internment camps along the West Coast? African Americans want to move to the city after being enslaved for hundreds of years in the South? No problem, we have a ghetto for that!
It’s historically easy to look upon our perceived enemies and reach for an antiquated solution. Journalists are egomaniacal, sensationalist, and should leave poor, well meaning politicians alone so they can run our government and economy into the ground in peace. It’s their fault for exposing that the emperor rarely wears clothes. It’s their fault for asking pesky questions like, “Why are you comfortable waving a flag that symbolizes slavery and hate?” It’s their fault politicians willingly walk into scandals that require a vigilant, watchdog press to keep voters informed.
Do some journalists make a name with schlock and awe? Of course. Does egotism run amok in newsrooms? Oh, you betcha. However, I’ll take the slings and arrows for those boobs in order to avoid a reality where the press doesn’t exist and politicians inform us by stroking our hair and whispering in our ears, “Everything is okay; just go to sleep.”
Ideas like Pitts’ aren’t only dangerous, they’re lazy. Oh yeah, and they are grossly unconstitutional. Leave the Bill of Rights alone, Mr. Pitts, and try to write laws that might actually help your constituents.