Over and over, in their speeches and propaganda, you see a number of repeating themes in conservative politicians’ rhetoric. “Gay marriage will ruin America”, “All Muslims are terror suspects by default”, “The only cure to gun violence is more guns”, you know, things like that. A very popular one is “Our rights are under attack, and only the GOP is trying to protect them for you.” However, anyone who has paid any attention to the efforts to curtail the right of a woman to control her own body or to reverse the advances in voting rights by the national and state Republican parties will know this for the smokescreen that it is.
This time, the right that has been targeted by their efforts is a little different. Perhaps inspired by Donald Trump’s recent call for a Muslim database, one South Carolina representative just introduced a measure to create a different kind of strange registry, this time to track journalists deemed “responsible” by the state. South Carolina Representative Mike Pitts recently introduced a bill called the “South Carolina Responsible Journalism Registry Law.”
The bill would specify legal requirements for anybody wanting to work as a journalist in South Carolina and mandate who a media outlet could hire as a reporter. It would also impose legal penalties (fines and/or jail time) against reporters and media outlets who violate some as yet undefined journalistic standard. No one is really sure at the moment whether the law would also apply to professional bloggers or amateurs like myself.
You see the problem, right? The problem that arises from the very basic rights that conservatives claim to support so intensely? If not, you need to do some fairly basic reading on the Constitution.
Pitts is your standard-issue “God, Guns, and Grits” Southern Conservative and basically what we have here is a state legislator who thinks journalism should be closely regulated (up to and including who can be a journalist) and all journalists should be registered with the state … and GUN ownership shouldn’t be. Evidently, his reading of the Bill of Rights skips straight to an abridged version of the 2nd Amendment, past any pesky limits on his power as a legislator to control something he finds inconvenient.
I’m sure it’s completely unrelated to the fact that Pitts’ campaign finances are currently under scrutiny by the press. Sure, and if you believe that, I have some bridge investment opportunities for you. Instead, he claims it’s an effort to protect gun rights from the slander of inconvenient facts being reported in the media.
My visceral reaction isn’t printable due to a high content of words my mother wouldn’t want me saying, much less printing, but can be summarized thusly: This is a naked attack on the First Amendment – you know, the one that says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” I realize we’re talking about a state legislature here, not Congress, but we’re also talking about one of the nation’s founding principles.
This sounds more like something we might hear out of Putin’s Russia than something that belongs in a state of the United States. Mr. Pitts should be ashamed, and his fellows in the GOP should find this anathema. The fact that they haven’t spoken out against it just proves that their claim to being the champions of the Bill of Rights is a blatant lie.