Tuesday, March 29, 2005
OT: The Sacrificial Goat
... the justices let stand a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that a newspaper can be forced to pay damages for having reported that a city councilman called the mayor and the council president "liars," "queers" and "child molesters."So the Court, abandoning reason, now makes the press responsible for reporting the facts when politician Smith slanders politician Jones.
The case turned on whether the 1st Amendment's protection of the freedom of the press includes a "neutral reporting privilege." Most judges around the nation have said the press does not enjoy this privilege.
The case that reached the high court began 10 years ago when the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., printed a story titled "Slurs, Insults Drag Town Into Controversy." It reported that the city council in nearby Parkesburg had been torn apart by shouting matches and fistfights. The most outspoken councilman was William T. Glenn Sr.
In comments during a meeting and in an interview with a news reporter, Glenn referred to Mayor Alan Wolfe and Councilman James Norton as "liars" and a "bunch of draft dodgers." He also strongly suggested that they were homosexuals who had put themselves "in a position that gave them an opportunity to have access to children."