Monday, October 5, 2009

Galvanized by the incredible lack of all conviction

Thank you, FTC, for your incredible encroachment on the rights of the citizen journalist.

I mean, have you READ the Constitution?

Did you forget certain parts when you swore your oath to "uphold and defend" this sacred founding document that has successfully run this country for 222 years?

What part of the 1st Amendment gave you trouble?

I'll post it here, in the official language, just in case you need a reference (This is an open book test):
Amendment I

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.

So. I realize some people say this freedom of the press only applies to those who own a press, but in this age, the press is free - it's called the Internet, and it's journalists are everywhere. If you go about saying - well, the Wall Street Journal is "the press" but you guys, you're just bloggers ... then you have, de facto, regulated the press.

Ed Morrissey points out several other issues with FTC's incredibly vague "regulation."

Also under FTC scrutiny is “word of mouth” marketing, which seems to imply that anyone in any context that receives some sort of material remuneration for talking about a product will come under the FTC’s jurisdiction:

These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers.

Where does the FTC’s jurisdiction end? If I get a free tube of toothpaste in the mail and say nice things about it on Twitter, Facebook, or in a PTA meeting, do I have to disclose it as a freebie or pay the $11,000 fine the FTC imposes? What kind of disclosure can one fit into a 140-character Twitter message, anyway?

The wonderful thing about the press in this country, as opposed to Great Britain, is that we journalists have no special rights not granted every other citizen of our great country. That also means there is no credentialing body, there is no certification, government or otherwise. There is no government agency who can say who is the press and who can be regulated.

This is my strict construction, and I'm sure there are Constitutional scholars who can tell me one way or the other why you're able to pull off your little Constitution-shredding hat trick, but that's the way I read it.

And I'm calling, right now, for bloggers everywhere, not to play along. I for one, refuse. Though to be sure, this is my first blog post, and nobody's given me anything to review (though I'd be happy to review a Blackberry Tour with camera ... Hello ... Verizon?).

But if Verizon did want to send me one to review ($149 with 2-year contract) you can be sure I won't kowtow to your silly regulation.

Anybody feel like donating to my legal defense fund?

The reason I started this with a "thank you," Dear FTC, is that I've been meaning to publish a blog for a long time, but this is what pushed me over the edge.

Perhaps my next post will 'splain why I want to blog.

The Tick

"Gravity is a harsh mistress!"