First of all, those of you who don't know the tale of ErrinF, of "Delete my fucking account, Kos" fame, to whom my title pays a sort of tribute -- well, I don't even have to explain it because there will probably be plenty of explanation in the comments. (Note to proprietors: I can't imagine that discussing ErrinF is verboten in these days of hatemailpalooza, but if it is please feel free to excise the bowdlerized word in the title and replace this paragraph with a pile of whatever you want.)
Anyway, I'm here today to talk about DuFi, or the Durbin-Feinstein amendment that Markos discussed today, which I propose be pronounced "doofy" -- because that's what it is.
DuFi -- I also put Durbin's name first to shame him, because I know from experience that trying to shame her is absolutely impossible -- is a proposal to take a new federal reporter's shield law covering people who engage in the acts of:
(I) conducting interviews;
(II) making direct observation of events; or
(III) collecting, reviewing, or analyzing original writings, statements, communications, reports, memoranda, records, transcripts, documents, photographs, recordings, tapes, materials, data, or other information whether in paper, electronic, or other form;
that last category it to cover only anyone who:
(iii) obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity—
(I) that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means; and
(aa) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;
(bb) operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;
(cc) operates a programming service; or
(dd) operates a news agency or wire service;
while adding the proviso that the group protected
(D) does not include an individual who gathers or disseminates the protected information sought to be compelled anonymously or under a pseudonym.
I'd like to believe that Durbin joined the ride solely to convince DiFi to include something howlingly unconstitutional like that last provision, knowing that such unconstitutionality attracts DiFi like kittens to catnip.
But let's say that they pass it. If they do, Markos is well situated to put the kibbosh on it himself. Here's the plan.
(1) Anyone who plans to engages in online writing that would put them in a position to need to use the federal shield law should be able to sign up with Daily Kos as an independent contractor for annual compensation of ... ["Dr. Evil" pinky moves up to corner of mouth] ... one dollar. This will require some fundraising, but not much. So much for the proviso in "(iii)".
(2) Daily Kos shall continue to "[disseminate] information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means." I think "electronic" covers it, but "other means" could conceivably include LOLcats. So we're OK under the provision in "(I)".
(3) Daily Kos shall public a book -- an e-book, in fact -- called "The Best of Daily Kos" once per year. Proceeds from the e-book will be used to send people all those $1 payments by PayPal. (Note: this is a good idea even if nothing else I suggest happens.) Now Daily Kos qualifies under "(II)(aa)" as a book publisher. And ... we're mediated, baby! We're as mediariffic as anyone, by law!
(4) But there's that lousy provision (D), aiming and the pseudonymous and anonymous -- assuming it even makes sense grammatically, which it doesn't, but I'm sure that that will be fixed. Well, there are Supreme Court cases the defend the right to engage in pseudonymous and anonymous speech -- I'll include some when I update, as it's getting on towards midnight eastern -- and political speech receives the highest protection, what with the Federalist Papers and revolutionary pamphleteers and all, so I truly doubt that this will be a problem. But I think that, if need be, a court should decide that any anonymous or pseudonymous blogger can divulge their true identity to a judge, in camera and under seal, and thus gain the protection of this law. That way, by construing the law narrowly, it avoids unnecessary constitutional interpretation and keeps Judge Kosinski happy.
If the bill passes, and Markos does this, I'll buy $100 worth of the e-books necessary for DKos to qualify as media. But then I want my freaking dollar as an independent contractor, Kos!
DuFi -- just give it up. You won't beat the blososphere. We have the FSM and Ceiling Cat on our side!