Freedom of the press.jpgOne of the fundamental constitutional rights that in at least theory clearly distinguishes us from a totalitarian society is having a free press. It exists and is rightfully highly protected under the Constitution in fulfillment of the public's right to know in this yet putative democracy. Thus, the press has been able to publish virtually anything that is not deemed pornographic under the Miller Test or which does not create a "clear and present danger" of grievous bodily harm by doing something like "yelling fire in a theater."

But with the advent of the internet and 24 hour news cycles, which are even now more than ever motivated by the "if it bleeds, it leads" mantra of the news media, little thought has been given to the question of just how much of what we call news is actually news and not just another form of pornography generated by copycat and already marginalized people. These bottom feeders now are being made aware on a moment by moment basis in the media that their up until now meaningless lives can now at least go out with 15 minutes of fame derived from something as mundane as an extended and now almost daily cut away from the regular news to their very own police pursuit or to their going into a waffle house and randomly shooting people. They will now clearly get more unnewsworthy attention than they would have ever gotten before from the media in their dismal lives just because it gets ratings- at what cost?

While supposedly not pornography as laid out under the Miller Test, have we nonetheless arrived at a point in our 21st century anarchic high tech society where the "prurient interest" of reporting endless car chases...or senseless murders is now immune to any form of rational reflection or regulation? What has to take place before there can be some limited regulation of these "news events" of "no redeeming social value?" Or simply stated, How many people have to be avoidably killed by something that is clearly equatable with "yelling fire in a theater" and clearly has the same likely foreseeable catastrophic results without being subject to reasonable regulation.

But given the already pervasive corporate and foundation control of virtually all commercial and public media, how can this more than justified, necessary, and reasonable minimal censorship be accomplished without further limiting an already compromised freedom of the press? More than ever, when it comes to 1st Amendment freedom of the press and the other Bill of Rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, there doesn't seem to be any easy fix, which can limit that which serves no purpose and actually does harm from that which is essential to the free flow of meaningful ideas in a democracy.

Because we have already allowed the constant erosion of our civil rights to a limiting corporate oligarchy that has completely taken over the political and economic process, it is not easy to be honest with ourselves and realize that whether its freedom of speech, privacy, due process, a right to bear arms or many many other fundamental rights we once had, that now we have a lose-lose scenario, where none of our options are good. This is a rather bitter pill to swallow, which is why this topic is almost completely ignore in the media. But the longer we wait to address this regrettable situation, the worse things will be. Thoughts?

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