from the leakers,-bloggers-and-journalists dept
Our most insightful comment this week comes in response to the still-too-narrow definition of journalism in the shield law that is moving forward in Congress. Pi racked up lots of votes by quoting the ultimate source:
My words can't do justice, so I'll just go with something I read once.
"Congress shall make no law respecting ... or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press"
Meanwhile, on another post, there was a suggestion that the Snowden leaks have not revealed anything that wasn't already more-or-less known — after all, there has been very public concern about the NSA's technological capabilities for some time. But an anonymous commenter took second most insightful comment of the week by summing up the importance of learning the details and the extent of what's going on:
The great thing about the Snowden leaks is that you can't simply brush them off as a "mistake" or something that just happened once but will (allegedly) never happen again.
The content is so damning, so thorough and shows so many consistent violations of the most basic rights that it is impossible to ignore.
Look, we both know (or at least suspect) that proprietary software (and sometimes even open-source software...temporarily at least) can be and often is compromised. We also know how to mitigate the damage.
Now go tell a room of computer illiterates that their operating system is compromised and that they have to switch to Linux right now to protect their rights. The end result will probably be that people will basically tell you to fuck off...I should know: I've done that.
These leaks at least made people aware of the issues in a way that is impossible to ignore. So much that it even has political representatives asking questions and pressuring the NSA.
People can still choose to pretend that the problem does not exist, of course. But that's like trying to pretend that the Sun doesn't exist at this point.
Snowden has done the world a great service.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with a comment from TaCktiX highlighting the endlessly repeating pattern of events since the NSA was put in the hot seat:
How many lies and deceptions need to be uncovered?
The same pattern has emerged ever since the first leaks from Snowden (and if one includes Senator Wyden's efforts, starting even before then):
1. Leaked document exposes dirty laundry of NSA.
2. People speculate on implications of said dirty laundry.
3. NSA denies that any of those implications are true.
4. New leaked document directly contradicts NSA's denial.
5. GOTO 2, repeat.
It's the same pattern, for months running. When are people (and Congress, and the President, and the Courts, our supposed public servants) going to finally realize that the entire setup is utterly corrupt and untrustworthy? That it needs to be removed in its entirety and maybe replaced (I'm in doubt that we even need the NSA).
Next, we head back to the post about the journalist shield law, where another anonymous commenter made the case that this is a matter for the courts:
The courts need to step in here. Letting congress or the states define who's a journalist and who isn't violates the first amendment.
Here's how. The first amendment guarantees freedom of the press. But how can there be freedom of the press if the government can redefine what the press actually is at any time so that it can go after 'journalists' it doesn't like? If the government can do that, it renders the 1st amendment protections meaningless.
And yes, there HAVE been court rulings on something very similar. Courts have already ruled that the government CANNOT say what is and is not a valid religion, because that would be a way for the government to get around the 1st amendment freedom of religion.
Sure some would argue that wikileaks and the guardian/etc aren't US companies or citizens and therefore shouldn't be covered by the first amendment. But tell me, do you Really think our founding fathers would have been perfectly ok if the government jailed any foreigner it could get it's hands on for criticizing the US government in even the tiniest way, while insisting to US citizens "you have free speech, we aren't arresting any Americans who criticize us"?
Obviously such actions would have a chilling effect on free speech of US citizens to, who would fear that despite what the government says it'll lock them up to for doing the same thing they're arresting foreigners for.
Over on the funny side, we start with more thoughts on Snowden. This time, an anonymous commenter had an idea about how to recognize him for what he's done:
..Snowden deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
Say...I hear there's this guy in DC who's not really making much use of his, maybe they could repurpose it.
In second place, we've got Michael, who is in need of paradox-absorbing crumple zones following James Clapper's admission that the debate Snowden caused is important:
I'm totally confused.
I'm pretty sure that this debate really needed to happen, but I am in a quandry because I am have been conditioned to not believe anything this guys says.
For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with yet another anonymous commenter, responding to the ridiculous claim that we've "learned enough" from the Snowden leaks and the remaining documents should be destroyed:
His logic could be applied to just about anything, like scientists developing new technology.
"Sure we've gotten a lot of benefit from scientists inventing new things, but only bad things are going to happen if we let scientists continue to study science. Any new benefits from science will be too marginal because everything good has already been invented. So we need to get rid of all the scientists and their research and development for the good of mankind".
And, last but not least, we head all the way back to last Sunday for a response to one of that week's winning comments. After justok won with the idea of using the Constitution as a public encryption key, Loki took an opposing viewpoint:
I disagree. Look how many times they've broken the Constitution already.
That's all for this week, folks!