Press Freedom in Peril?


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If blame is to be assigned for journalists’ arrests, a large share of it should go to the OWS protesters themselves. Whether through acts of outright violence, such as throwing glass bottles and bags of garbage and other projectiles at police, or by refusing to vacate a privately owned public park despite repeated orders to do so, the OWS protestors provoked a police response. It is not to excuse the more heavy-handed tactics to which police resorted to point out that they were forced to act by the violent and criminal conduct of OWS protestors.

Just as evicting the protestors from a privately owned park did not constitute suppression of free speech, neither do the collateral arrests of journalists covering the OWS protests signal growing curtailment of press freedom in the U.S. Considering that journalists are purposely and aggressively targeted by governments across the world, it is particularly outrageous for RWB to equate the OWS arrests with persecution of the press. To suggest that the active targeting and murder of journalists in Russia (to take one example of many) and the incidental arrests of journalists in a police roundup of violent rioters in the U.S. are somehow commensurate in their impact on press freedom is moral equivalence on a gross and indefensible scale.

With press freedom genuinely imperiled across the world, RWB’s downgrade of the U.S. seems to be little more than an attention-grabbing stunt. In the final analysis, RWB’s report highlights a decline not of the freedom of the press but of its seriousness. Those who kept up with the media’s cheerleading coverage of OWS would not have failed to notice the trend.

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  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    You err. The park is privately owned, but it was created by state fiat in exchange for a variation in the zoning ordinance. In order to build the commercial building in VIOLATION of zoning, the owners were forced to build Zuccotti Park as a commons. You even used the weasel phrase “privately owned public park.” It’s both, therefore it is not neither. Also, American citizens NEVER give up their First Amendment rights, even on your dubiously adored quasi-private property.

    • mrbean

      The forcible occupation of another man’s property or the obstruction of a public thoroughfare or public property is so blatant a violation of rights that an attempt to justify it becomes an abrogation of morality. An individual has no right to do a “sit-in” in the home or office of a person he disagrees with—and he does not acquire such a right by joining a gang. Rights are not a matter of numbers—and there can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob.

      Why is Flipside, that I think of you as shal we say,,, severely intellectually challenged?

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        The commons does not belong to “a man.” Secondly, the commons is not the home office of a stockbroker. Thirdly, nowhere does it say “We the people in order to form a more perfect union do hereby cede the territory on which we assemble to a much smaller minority of owners.”

        • intrcptr2

          Seriously, Flip, just stop. Just sit down and spin some more raps; your grasp of civics hurts, even this far away.

          America got rid of her commons typically before the Revolution. Public parks do not qualify.
          No one has claimed that offices constitute commons.
          The Declaration of Independence in point of fact DOES enshrine the right of private property, implicitly, in the guise of happiness. Of course, the Declaration is not a legally binding document, but you may want to double check the Preamble.
          The method for creating a more perfect union is securing the blessings of liberty to [our] posterity; the Preamble has a three-part, inverted refrain. The Founders wrote nothing of your sort of politics because they accpeted as sensible and obvious that men owned what they worked or paid for.

          • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

            America didn’t get rid of her commons.

    • intrcptr2

      What are you talkiing about?
      Zuccotti Park has been there since at least 1996, when I was playing chess there.

      Sorry to say, your grammar module fritzed out again. It is perfectly sensible for a "public" park to be privately owned. For example, if I own a piece of land, it is my prerogative to open it to be used by the public. Such a description is not self-contradictory.

      And you are correct, Americans never get their 1st Amendment rights taken away by government fiat. But that same document says nowhere that I must, by virtue of your standing on my property, be forced to let you stay. If it is my yard (Or to push your argument to its illogical conclusion) or my front porch, I have every right to evict you, or call the police to do it for me.

      What you say is up to you, where you say it is not exclusively.

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        Just because you played chess somewhere doesn’t make it a bastion of private ownership. Just ask Garry Kasparov.

  • Rifleman

    I seem to recall a few reporters getting roughed up by flea baggers.

  • Ghostwriter

    Well,I don't think freedom of the press in America is imperiled. It's just that many in the press have become cheerleaders for the Occupy Wall Street movement and don't report on it objectively.

  • Guest

    Tempest, meet teapot.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    What's to see at the OWS protests, same old same old commie wannabees looking
    to promote a personal rep and gain favor with the in crowd of new world revolutionaries.
    Yawn, bust up someone's property and declare themselves victors. Troublemakers
    was the term used years ago and they did not last long but in fact were taken to
    task by citizens and authorities alike and made to pay dearly for depredations.
    Demonstrating is OK but the filthy antics and damage being done is just a new
    round of hooliganism and in need of a hard boot………………………….William