In the spirit of those states criminalizing (see yesterday’s post) the videotaping of police, State Senator Bruce Patterson (R-District 7) wants to register journalists: he is not asking, yet, to criminalize those who write without a license, he merely wants to get the list of exceptions in place.
Since Senator Patterson was mentioned for this proposal on Fox News, he’s been defending himself on the floor of the Michigan Senate by pointing out the difference between “voluntary registration” and “licensing.”
He’s right, there is a difference, but there remain some problems with this semantic defense:
1), What responsibility is it of the taxpayers of Michigan to be paying to create and administer such a registry?
2), What business is it of the State of Michigan to put its imprimatur on information or on individuals’ speech, flawed or otherwise?
3), Since among other things, the law would require applicants for the State conferred title of “Michigan registered reporter” to possess: a) “Good moral character”; b) a degree in journalism; and c) submit three writing samples: 3a) How does the State make a determination of moral character? 3b), If no degree is required to be a “Michigan legislator”, why should “journalists” have to have one? 3c) Who is going to grade the writing samples; on what basis?
Senator Patterson does not deserve the title “Michigan legislator;” probably could never have achieved it under his rules for “journalists;” and certainly should not be allowed to keep it. Apparently term limits are working in favor of that outcome.