Tuesday, November 10, 2015


This is upsetting a lot of people, not all of them conservatives:
A video that showed University of Missouri protesters restricting a student photographer’s access to a public area of campus on Monday ignited discussions about press freedom.

Tim Tai, a student photographer on freelance assignment for ESPN, was trying to take photos of a small tent city that protesters had created on a campus quad. Concerned Student 1950, an activist group that formed to push for increased awareness and action around racial issues on campus, did not want reporters near the encampment.

Protesters blocked Mr. Tai’s view and argued with him, eventually pushing him away. At one point, they chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, reporters have got to go.”

“I am documenting this for a national news organization,” Mr. Tai told the protesters, adding that “the First Amendment protects your right to be here and mine.”

The protesters accused him of acting unethically and disregarding their requests for privacy.....

On Twitter, students who participated in the protest defended their decision to create a “safe space” without journalists....

A "'safe space' without journalists"? Sounds like Ben Carson's ideal version of a presidential debate -- you know, one that's not on TV, with moderators who barely have time to ask questions because nearly all the time is taken up by candidates giving opening and closing statements, and one in which the moderators know their place and give candidates near-total control over their self-presentation:
“Debates are supposed to be established to help the people know the candidates… what their philosophy is,” Mr. Carson told reporters before a morning appearance at Colorado Christian University. “What it’s turned into is a ‘gotcha’ opportunity to cast candidates in a negative light.

“That’s silly. That’s not really helpful.”
And then there's Ted Cruz, who has his version of a "safe space":
The Texas senator and presidential candidate suggested that moderators who have voted Republican should host future debates....

“How about instead of a bunch of attack journalists, we actually have real conservatives,” he added as the crowd cheered. “Could you imagine a debate moderated by Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin?”
I have a problem with progressive kids not grasping the notion that reporters have First Amendment rights just the way protesters do. But I also have a problem with the notion that this level of hostility to people not known to be allies is an exclusively left-wing problem. On the right, the division of the world into known allies and Antichrists isn't part of protest politics -- it's part of mainstream politics. It's how death-before-compromise Republicans operate in Washington and in many state governments. It's how Bill O'Reilly interviews people. It's what conservatives mean when they say they want to "take our country back" -- they want to make America a "safe space" for conservatives. They don't even consider the rest of us to have a right to be part of government -- they took control of both houses of Congress, therefore all liberals, and even right-centrist Republicans, should stand down.

I don't like what's taking place in the video above. But in America, those protesters far from the only people who think they can banish non-allies from their "safe space." And the conservative counterparts of those protesters think their "safe space" should be the whole damn country.


Or to put it another way:


mlbxxxxxx said...

So people should not be allowed to meet on public property without allowing journalists? I mean, I'd love to have journalists sitting in on GOP caucus meetings in the Capitol bldg. but I don't think their presence is assured by the 1st Amendment. I don't know of any journalist who thinks they have a 1st Amendment right to attend any meeting on public property. So why this one? Maybe the kids are right to ban journalists, maybe they are wrong, but I don't think the 1st Amendment pertains. It would be purely a matter of strategy, e.g, how or whether it hurt the message they are trying to convey.

maha said...

Per Raw Story, the faculty of the U of Missouri School of Journalism is meeting now to consider revoking Melissa Click's teaching privileges at the J school. Click is the professor seen in videos calling for "some muscle" to push away journalists. She is not a member of the J school faculty but has a "courtesy appointment" to teach classes there. The J school faculty issued a statement strongly condemning the way the reporters were treated.


Ten Bears said...

ESPN is a reichwing propahanda outlet, a "student photographer on freelance assignment" no doubt a James O'Keeffe-ish worm looking to embellish dirt. If not an outright agency of provocation. The students had good reason to restrict access, and were in fact quite prudent to do so.

This shit's been going on since Nixon. The First Amendment Free Speech equals a media free to do or say as it pleases is the same canard the Christian Fascists use to ram their bloodthirsty religion down greater public's throats.

The Revolution will not be televised.

maha said...

Ten Bears -- ESPN is a sports channel, and the photographer Tim Tai is a senior in the School of Journalism at Missouri who got a freelance assignment from ESPN, not a staff photographer. His photographs of the protests are quite good. Take a look.


In short, you are several light-years off base.

Glennis said...

The photos are beautiful.

Ten Bears said...

Yes, I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

What's your agenda?

Glennis said...

What's yours? You're the person accusing a stranger of being a "James O'Keefish worm," based on zero information.

Have you read the statement given by the photographer in response to the professor's apology? It was very gracious, and certainly showed no political agenda at all.

maha said...

"What's your agenda?"

Getting the facts straight. Full disclosure, I'm a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, class of 1973. So I've been out of touch with the campus for awhile, but since Missouri is still a mostly racially segregated state I don't doubt the campus still is a hostile place for black students. That doesn't mean black protesters can't be idiots, though.


Palli said...

Please, the OCCUPY movement set up areas where press was prohibited, although it was often unsuccessful in the effort. What is wrong with that. Press is usually not invited into any leadership circles-however wide leadership is defined within a group.

Second, a journalists job is to work at the story, not expect the wide open door or perfect vantage points for close-up s or panaramic views.

Note: the loudest complaints came from StL Post-Dispatch journalists, who resting on their Pulitzer award for Ferguson photos, felt a sense of primacy (read White entitlement) in Columbia. Reporters parachuted in and parachuted out within a matter of hours for a quickie. (The principle crime reporter, Christine Byers at the StLP-D, has a particularly biased viewpoint and is not trusted in the MO justice movement. Although she did not go to KC, her reputation rubs off on other staff reporters.)

Journalists from other local & national outlets wrote sensitive and insightful pieces because they worked at it. Notably, http://www.themaneater.com, & Matt Pearce's interview with Jonathan Butler. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-missouri-hunger-striker-20151110-story.html

maha said...

"Please, the OCCUPY movement set up areas where press was prohibited, although it was often unsuccessful in the effort. What is wrong with that."

If you are proposing that Occupy was a successful enterprise that ought to be emulated, you are living on a different planet than I do. Occupy was a fizzle that repeated every stupid mistake of progressive protesting going back to 1967.

Clue: You have a right to keep journalists off your private property or out of your home. You don't have a right to block off portions of public land (or, in the case of Occupy, somebody else's property) and keep other people from using that public land. Using public space as if it were your personal property is putting you in Cliven Bundy territory.

Tim Tai is a PHOTOjournalist, which means he is required to PHOTOGRAPH events to do his job. I appreciate that other journalists didn't need access to the actual demonstrations to do their jobs, but he did.

What the protesters did to Tim Tai (who, by the way, is not white, and he took some wonderfully sensitive photographs of the protests in spite of the way protesters treated him) made them look like a bunch of thugs, which is counterproductive to what they need to do. I am completely sympathetic to their cause. The Columbia campus was a festering hotbed of racism when I was there, and it wouldn't surprise me to know it hasn't changed much. But demonstrations work by winning public sympathy. Pushing and bullying Tim Tai was uncalled for. It was also an infringement of HIS rights.

Had he actually DONE something to cause the assembly to distrust him, I'd understand. But there's no evidence he did anything but take photographs as part of his freelance assignment from ESPN.

You do know that Tai is a senior at the University, btw? He wasn't some outsider. It was his campus too.