Our Opinion: Limit goes too far
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is simple: “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.”
Two hundred years after that amendment was created, the world has changed. But the need for freedom – in worship, speech, peaceable assemblage and the press – has not.
In a legislative maneuver which has drawn state and national media attention, Gardnerville Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick and ex-Douglas High School teacher Dan Paterson want to draft a bill that would limit the ability of a newspaper to publish a photograph under “certain circumstances,” a clear limit to freedom of the press.
In October, Paterson got into it with the coach of his daughter’s 8th grade basketball team following a loss to a Carson City middle school. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in February. In a story The Record-Courier published, we included a photograph that Paterson told Assemblyman Hettrick “made me look like a criminal.”
Mr. Paterson claimed we violated what he calls his “Zero Amendment” right to privacy by publishing his picture.
Hettrick and his constituent aren’t trying to change the law that says you can’t mix it up with your daughter’s coach. They’re not going after the Douglas County School District which banned Paterson from future sporting events.
They’re coming after us because we made Paterson “look like a criminal.”
Every time we turn around, someone wants to mess with the press. We report the news, we don’t make it and silencing the messenger is not the answer, something which our nation’s founders so wisely realized more than two centuries ago.
Although some may think limiting the press in “certain circumstances” is a good idea, that logic is flawed. Censorship is an all-or-nothing proposition. Any time the free flow of information is restricted, society suffers.