Today's Mighty Oak

First Amendement Rights, right?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Welcome to a can of worms.  And to be quite honest, there will be many, many posts that come back to the words above.  But for now, I’d like to draw your attention to a story coming out of Phoenix.

Jeff Pataky’s website, Bad Phoenix Cops, undoubtedly caught the attention of the local authorities.  Any organization or company with an ear to the Internet and social media would have been aware of a similar site directed towards them.

But what happened next is what sets this story apart.

Pataky’s house was raided and his girlfriend was handcuffed for three hours (he was out of town).  Files and computers were seized under warrant.

Terry Heaton says it best:

But here’s what really bothers me. In justifying the raid, Phoenix Assistant Chief Andy Anderson called Pataky’s site “an unaccredited grassroots Web site.”

As opposed to an accredited grassroots web site?  The Internet is (at least, we take it for granted to be) such a free medium, or minimally, with an understanding that in the U.S. it is fairly free, it allows citizen journalism to blossom.  But that growth is only allowed to continue with the understanding that it is a medium to express thoughts, to investigate and to connect, as long as none of the above damage or harm another person.

So what does this case mean?  Is it setting a president that without an accredited press badge, citizen journalists don’t necessarily have their first amendment rights?  Will we see a rise in amateur press badges (photoshop can be a wonderful thing)?  Do we even need press badges?

And I do have to do some more research into this case, but what does it say about the professional press as well?  Are they coming to Pataky’s aid?  Or in the death throws of the newspaper industry (to be just a bit overly dramatic), can this be seen as a victory for the traditional press?

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