Borat legal victory not funny for journalists. Erodes idea that they enjoy special legal protections. 4/3/08Posted by Steve Boriss in Borat.
Borat, a journalist? Incredibly, a Federal judge said “yes,” ruling against the real world financial analyst who yelled “go away,” then ran away — all the way to court — from Borat’s attempted stranger-hug on a New York street. Judge Loretta Preska ruled that the clip was “newsworthy” and attempted “an ironic commentary of modern American culture.” BwaaHaaaHaaa! Hey, judge, that’s a good one!
While it should make citizens smile, the judge’s ruling was definitely not for the make benefit glorious nation of Journalism. If that video deserves the same First Amendment protections as journalism, what doesn’t? The ruling exposes the lie that there is any way to differentiate a “journalist” from anyone else. The fact is that “journalism” is a non-professional profession that lacks any of the hallmarks of a true profession, such as agreed-to codes of ethics and best practices, licensing procedures, governing bodies, and requirements for continuing education. That’s why the effort to secure passage of a federal shield law that allows journalists to avoid testifying under oath has been so difficult. But actually, that was the plan from America’s beginning. The Declaration of Independence granted each of us equal rights, and the First Amendment grants each of us the freedom to use a printing press — which is the correct interpretation of “freedom of the press,” written at a time before “the Press” as we know it even existed. If Thomas Jefferson were alive today and heard the Borat ruling, no doubt he’d yell “is nice!” and give Judge Preska a big Kazakhstan hug.