Mean Gene
Mean Gene
Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger, which I admit is like being the best shortstop in Greenland

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My Articles

Presto, the Arlo, & the Hammer
An Online Code of Conduct
The Ethics of Ratholing
"The Professor, the Banker..."
"Ace on the River"

My Columns

Lose the Shades
If You Can't Say Something Nice
Whither the Kicker
The Lady is a Champ?
Covering the WSOP (or not)
Statistics, Luck, and Poker
Poker and New Orleans
Managing a Bankroll
How To Tell A Bad Beat Story
Telling Lies
The Power of Poker Tracker
Advanced Card-Handling

My Greatest Hits

5 Things To Do Before I Die
Cafeteria Nostalgia
Mean Gene's Dubious Dating Tips
Poker and Business?
There's No Such Thing As Luck?
Isabelle, Je t'adore
No Shirt No Shoes No Service
Well, The Food Was Good
Good Morning, Mr. Matusow!
The Weekend of our Discontent, I
The Weekend of our Discontent, II
Books That Left Their Mark
Ode to a Fish Sandwich
Bill Simmons Ain't the Poker Guy
The Sports Guy Still Ain't the Poker Guy
Again, The Media Tackles Poker
Five Years After 9/11
Hitting Pretty Girls in the Face
Sixth-Graders Suck

Fellow Poker Bloggers

Guinness and Poker
Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Up for Poker
Boy Genius
Chris Halverson
Poker Grub
The Fat Guy
Todd Commish
Poker Works
Bill Rini
Bad Blood
Love and Casino War
Double As
Lion Tales
Paul Phillips
Daniel Negreanu
Poker Nerd
Poker Nation
Poker in Arrears
Human Head
Sound of a Suckout
Chicks With Chips
TP's Table Talk
Royal Poker
This is Not A Poker Blog
Chick and a Chair
Go Be Rude
Poker Cheapskate
Poker & Other Stuff
Seven Two
Musical Poker
WPBT Online
Isabelle Mercier
Cardschat Blog
Amy Calistri
BJ Nemeth
Annie's Blog

Poker Sites

Cardschat Poker Forum
Barstool Sports
Card Player
Internet Texas Hold-Em
Poker Pages


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    Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    What First Amendment?

    In the March 27th issue of the Los Angeles Times a reporter and critic named David Shaw wrote a piece titled "Do Bloggers Deserve Basic Journalistic Protections?". His answer to this question (a resounding NO) is another example of how various elites have taken it upon themselves to decide where and when those pesky provisions in the Bill of Rights should be allowed.

    For those of you who either slept through your Civics classes or spent much of your junior high years constructing elaborate sexual fantasies, let me post just the First Amendment:

    "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."

    Pretty sweet, huh? We can worship how we want, say what we want, write about what we want, hang out with like-minded folks, and, if those or any other of our rights are infringed, we can go to Court over it. Forty-five words covers the whole shebang.

    How many billions of words have been written arguing over what the First Amendment REALLY means I do not wish to venture. But let me add a few of my own to the pile. The idea that "freedom of the press" should be the sole preserve of "professional" journalists is so ludicrous and insulting as to be beyond contempt. Jack Shafer of Slate wrote a piece that properly destroys Shaw's thesis, and as Shafer was so kind as to do the hard work I won't parrot what he says. But since many of the folks who read this particular blog are bloggers themselves, I think its important that we, who inhabit a tiny, insulated sliver of the blogosphere, know what's going out there in the world writ large. There have been calls to restrict what blogs can or cannot say under the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Bill, since there was so much attention brought on blogs because of the scandal involving Dan Rather and CBS and forged documents. The argument seems to be that because bloggers have no journalistic "qualifications", and because their copy doesn't go through layers of editorial review, they should not be provided with the same protections as "professional" journalists.

    Poppycock. I was a writing major in college, I worked for the school paper for 3 years, and the mere fact that you took a few classes and know what an AP Stylebook is does not give you such an advantage that only you deserve Constitutional protections. The qualities that make a good reporter--inquisitiveness, tenacity, the ability to write a coherent sentence (followed by another one), accuracy, integrity, and the ability to accept that you don't know everything and that this is actually a good thing--are not only to be found in the newsroom. Nor does a press pass automatically confer those skills upon you. I don't remember any sort of baptismal ceremony before I went off to conduct my first interview.

    Shaw's most ludicrous assertion (and one that I've heard from other sources) is that journalists, unlike bloggers, have an interest in being accurate because their papers could be sued if they libel someone. I can't imagine that Shaw is unaware of this, but bloggers can be sued for libel too. If you libel someone (say, by declaring that a co-worker is having an affair with a goat) you don't get off the hook because you published it at BilltheJediMasterBlog instead of the New York Times. You'd better get yourself a good lawyer. To quote from the movie Spiderman...actually, I'm not going to quote from the movie Spiderman. It takes away from the gravitas of what I'm talking about, and besides, it's a stupid line. Anyway, my point is that if bloggers have the same rights as journalists, they have the same responsibilities as well.

    So, what's the difference between bloggers and journalists? Nothing. So, what's the difference between the average citizen and journalists? Nothing. Under the First Amendment, we all look the same. With one big, BIG difference. Journalists are fortunate enough to get paid to write. Most bloggers, and most private citizens, aren't so lucky. The economic threat bloggers pose to journalists perhaps explains much of the vitriol, but isn't a compelling reason to strip away our constitutional rights. get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

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