October 12, 2005

ONE CHARACTERISTIC OF THE TITLED NOBILITY was its immunity from some legal rules laid on the commoners; that's why such titles were an important boon that the King could bestow on favorites. Reading this statement by Richard Lugar on the proposed journalists' shield law, which probably won't cover bloggers, I wonder if we're getting into the same territory:

In other remarks about the legislation at IAPA's 61st General Assembly, Lugar acknowledged that the legislation could amount to a "privilege" for reporters over other Americans.

"I think, very frankly, you can make a case that this is a special boon for reporters, and certainly for their role in freedom of the press," he said. "At the end of the day what we will come out with says there is something privileged about being a reporter, and being able to report on something without being thrown into jail."

I think that such special privileges are a bad idea, as I've said here before. But to the extent that they apply only to Registered Official Journalists (as the story suggests is the intent) rather than to the activity of reporting, I think that they're also deeply troubling. The government is bestowing a special privilege on the press. Will it, like the King, expect loyalty in return?