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----- Original Message -----
From: "Sven Franklyn Weil" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Dan Billings" <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 1:14 PM
Subject: Re: Townsend
> I think that sort of story has been done before, but reporters should be
> given the benefit of the doubt if they can prove they're writing a news
> story on the ease of getting <insert illegal subject matter here>.
> If the paper the reporter works for backs up their newsman, then that
> reporter should be given special dispensation by the court, I think.
What gives reporters the right to break the law? There is nothing in the
First Amendment or the courts application of the First Amendment that would
given an "special dispensation." What the First Amendment protects is the
press' right to publish information they obtain. For example, if
information was obtained illegally, the government can't restrain the press
from publishing the information but they can prosecute the people who broke
the law to obtain the information.
It is also important to note that the First Amendment does not grant any
special rights to reporters -- it applies to all of us. If you can break
the law to obtain information to write a story that right would have to
apply to a person who wanted to write a story for their own web site not
just reporters for mainstream publications.
-- Dan Billings, Bowdoinham, Maine