Sunday, March 30, 2008

Freedom of Information vs. Right to Privacy

Been reading several editorials on the topic with respect to newspapers receiving FOIA lists of Concealed Carry Permit owners. This is one of the best because it really shows the complete stupidity of the press in many places. Take this example:
Pitts said he was incensed by a column last March in The Roanoke Times that focused on concealed weapon permits as a way to highlight Sunshine Week, the annual observance of open government and public records laws. The Virginia newspaper's online version included a link to the state's more than 135,000 permit holders and their street addresses.

"I can hear the shocked indignation of gun-toters already: It's nobody's business but mine if I want to pack heat," wrote columnist Christian Trejbal. "Au contraire. Because the government handles the permitting, it is everyone's business."

The reaction was immediate. The newspaper pulled the link the next day, citing concerns that it might have included names that should not be public, according to a follow-up Roanoke Times article. An editorial noted the paper received complaints - some threatening - from thousands of readers.

"Prior to posting the database, we did not give sufficient thought to the possibility that the safety of certain individuals on the list, like law enforcement officials and crime victims, could potentially be compromised," Debbie Meade, president and publisher of The Roanoke Times, said last year in a statement that the newspaper rereleased Friday.

That last bit is complete horse-shit. They didn't think PERIOD. And there actions endangered many people. But they have the right to publish, so they must be right. Jackass.

By this paper's own standards people who had their information published should seek a FOIA request for tax information and addresses of all of those involved with this article and publication and post them on line. It would be their right, as the journalists claimed. Since obviously taxation and residency permits are within the government scope, the people have to right to ensure that they did it right. Wonder how they would take such actions when they were the ones whose privacy was violated. It certainly would be much less dangerous for them since no one would at risk would be exposed to a threat, but it would expose them to scrutiny that they probably don't want.
Though the Virginia newspaper is the one Pitts cites as fuel for his measure, NRA spokeswoman Ashley Varner said there have been at least partial listings of gun owners by newspapers in Tennessee, Ohio and New York in the past three years.

"We believe it's very important that law-abiding citizens in this country have their rights to privacy protected," Varner said.

Dalglish counters that she doesn't understand why concealed carry permits should be singled out for privacy when all other licenses - whether for beauticians, bars or barristers - are public.

Right, thats comparable. Bars, Beauticians, and Barristers are licensed to perform their profession. They want their licensing known as a proof that they are legitimate and thus will attract business. My having a concealed carry permit is meant to be something quietly allowed. The police don't seem to like open carry in a lot of places, so concealed carry is the only alternative.
"It's just dangerous to seal up state licenses," said Bill Rogers, executive director of the South Carolina Press Association, who has protested the bill at legislative hearings. "It's an argument on principle. Nothing good happens in secret when it comes to government."
Again, how is your right to know more important than my right to privacy and safety? How is it that you posses a right that is should be given credibility than my most basic rights. This is an appalling lack of perspective.

There is an argument that the publishing of a list of concealed carry permit holders opens them up to a threat of thefts. But in states where you require a permit to purchase or posses a gun this could be a different threat. Criminals could use such lists to look for targets that are less likely to be a threat by comparing their cased house with the list of gun owners. Take that even further with sexual predators. Talk about enabling the criminal. But hey, why should we worry.

Seeing these type of activity happening in SC, PA, NY, TN and VA as well as elsewhere, you'd think there would be more of an outcry.

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