A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Society of Professional Journalists

Today I renewed my membership in the Society of Professional Journalists. The SPJ, largest organization of its kind in the U.S., works to maintain the highest journalistic standards and to ensure freedom of the press, granted to us by the First Amendment to our Constitution.

The First Amendment states:

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.

The SPJ recently pledged its support to independent journalist Sarah Olson of Oakland, California. Olson had been subpoenaed in the case of Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first military officer publicly to refuse deployment to Iraq. The Army charged Watada with conduct unbecoming an officer. The Army's case is built primarily on statements to the press, notably those which appeared in an article by Olson. In order to use the statements published in Olson's article as evidence, Olson herself needed to testify as to their authenticity. Many reporters do consent to testify in similar circumstances, mainly because fighting a subpoena is so expensive.

"If conscientious objectors know that they can be prosecuted for speaking to the press and that the press will participate in their prosecution, it stands to reason that they would think twice before being public about their positions," Olson states.

The Army dismissed the subpoenas of Olson and one other journalist, and dropped charges against Lieutenant Watada on January 29.

Sarah's attorney, David Greene of The First Amendment Project said, "This is a tremendous victory for both Sarah and for every journalist who fears being dragged into the middle of a dispute between a source and the government."

The National Press Club, The Nation, Mother Jones, Alternative Radio, the Center for Media and Democracy, and a host of individuals, among them Noam Chomsky and Gloria Steinham, joined SPJ in publicizing the Constitutional-rights violation case and in supporting Olson. I'm not proud of where my taxes go, but I'm happy to pay my dues to the SPJ.



Anonymous Christopher said...

In the same spirit, those of your readers with some money to give and a generous heart might want to consider these folks as worthy recipients.


4:57 PM  

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