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State to license journalists?

Posted By Joseph Farah On 06/07/2010 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

I swear sometimes I live in a parallel universe – like the characters from “Fringe.”

In another existence somewhere, there’s an America that still makes sense – that comprehends the principles that made this country great and special.

That’s what I think when I read stories like the one about Michigan considering a law to license journalists.

Is this Iran? Is this Cuba? Is this Venezuela or China? Or is this the United States of America where the principle of a free press was first established as an inalienable God-given right?

Maybe you missed the latest.

A Michigan state senator is introducing legislation that will regulate reporters much like the state currently does with hairdressers, mechanics and plumbers.

His name is Bruce Patterson, and he is a Republican.

Why would Patterson want to trifle with the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of a free press?

To ensure reporters are “credible” and to determine that they are of “good moral character.” Presumably that would mean, among other things, that they respect and adhere to the Constitution of the United States?

How about looking in the mirror, fella?

Paterson is troubled because the general public is being overwhelmed by an increasing number of media outlets – traditional, online and citizen-generated. In other words, there’s too much competition out there.

I guess it hasn’t occurred to this busybody that citizens are far more overwhelmed with government intrusion into every aspect of their lives – thousands of laws being churned out faster than anyone can even read them. That is not a threat to liberty, I guess.

According to the bill, reporters must provide the licensing board proof of:

  • “Good moral character” and demonstrate they have industry “ethics standards acceptable to the board.”
  • Possession of a degree in journalism or other degree substantially equivalent.
  • Not less than 3 years experience as a reporter or any other relevant background information.
  • Awards or recognition related to being a reporter.
  • Three or more writing samples.

Reporters would also have to pay an application and registration fee.

Though the bill, in its current state, would not prevent reporters who are not licensed by the state from covering Michigan politics, regulatory legislation often begins as “voluntary” before morphing into mandatory.

Now I doubt this bill is going anywhere. However, it shows the mindset of just how authoritarian and anti-constitutional many elected officials truly are – Democrats and Republicans.

They simply have no respect or reverence for the unique system of self-governance our founders envisioned and bequeathed to us.

How do we know if someone is a legitimate reporter? We judge them by their work.

There are plenty of illegitimate journalists practicing at some of the biggest news organizations in America today. They would have no problem passing Patterson’s little test. But it hardly means they are of good moral character.

By the way, how does one prove good moral character in the state of Michigan?

How many members of the Legislature there could prove they are of good moral character?

The problem with America’s press is not too much competition, but too little.

That may seem hard to believe in the age of the Internet, but it’s still true.

Competition on an even playing field solves many problems. Government regulation generally makes problems worse. You would think a Republican legislator in one of America’s most over-regulated and economically depressed states would have some understanding of principles like that.

But not in this parallel universe.

How do I break through to the other side?

How do I get back to the America where people are free to pursue their destinies unfettered by the long arm of government?

How do we rediscover the America where the Constitution is the very basis of our law and it is considered immoral and illegal to subvert it?


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