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Perspective on potential Indiana law

October 27, 2017

In the state of Indiana there lives a Republican legislator named Jim Lucas who has drafted a bill for his state’s law that would, at the end of the day, require journalists to license themselves. The bill has received cold and disturbed responses from other lawmakers as well as the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. Although Lucas simply copied and pasted the licensing guidelines from the second amendment rights to own a gun, his end game is to grab media attention and to make a point through the rhetoric of politics. There are two distinct sides of this situation and I am going to address both the Bill of Rights side and the other side that will be revealed later in this piece.

Jim Lucas is trying to make a point in one of the most dangerous forms possible; legislation. Freedom of speech is our most fundamental right as American citizens. Sure, our country decided to make people apply for a license to own firearms, but firearms are literally used to hurt and kill living organisms. Words, on the other hand, are already censored throughout the professional media platforms via the Federal Communications Commission and do not directly kill people.

Toying with a constitutional right for rhetorical purposes is a dangerous game. On a Facebook post by the Indiana Lawmaker, he said the media is reporting that the experts are saying licensing the 1st amendment would be unconstitutional. “Given that, why wouldn’t I push this, just to see who is right?” Lucas is coming off as too prideful to let this issue die along with his bill that he so “carefully” crafted. The issue here is not “what if this happens?” but rather “where does it stop if passed?” This proposed bill is going to set a precedent that our Bill of Rights can be regulated more strictly. Crazier things have happened in our country therefore this piece of legislation becoming law is possible and all too real.

The other side of this argument is one where, if done appropriately, fake news could be fought against at the state level. Fake news is a national epidemic that affects everyone whether they know it or not. You, the individual reading this issue of The Courier, might be able to distinguish real news from fake, but the uneducated majority, or the dumb masses, think that the fake news articles are real. Also, this might come as a surprise but fake news is nothing new. The big difference of our mass communications technologies, like social media, the reach of fake news is much wider than 20 years ago.

Licensing journalists in state government buildings, rather than police buildings, would not be the worst thing to happen. If journalists were required to be licensed then it would bring integrity and skill back to journalism. It could be viewed as a way to only use qualified writers to report the news. The state could then see who was putting out articles and know when something untrue is released to the public. This would still limit our first amendment rights, to a certain degree, but we do not live in a perfect world.

This issue is drenched in controversy, disdain, and certainty that the bill will not pass. It is important to know when our fundamental rights are being tampered with even when it is just for headlines and to “make a point.” Stand up for the Bill of Rights because when left to legislators sitting on their high horse, we could eventually lose our right to stand up for anything.

Riley Hess
Editor in Chief

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