Saturday, May 13, 2017

Journalist, engineer both arrested or fined for speaking out of turn

Here are a couple of stories about the risks that journalists sometimes take, with exercising their first amendment rights, even more for members of the Fourth Estate, the formal credentialed press (which I am not, yet).

In Charleston, W Va, reporter Dan Heyman was arrested for tailgating Trump’s HHS secretary Tom Price, as explained in this New York Times story by Christophere Mele on May 10.  The reporter was specifically asking whether (usually female) victims of domestic violence were considered to have “pre-existing conditions”.  It is true, that in some public buildings there are security rules about behavior (like at the airport) that can get someone arrested whatever the speech.

Even more disturbing is a story in FEE (a libertarian site) about the summons and fine in Oregon of Mats Jarlstrom for criticizing traffic light patterns “without a license”, apparently for identifying himself publicly as an engineer to back up his statements.

I contact local governments about the need for “no turn on red signs” and once got out of a photo red light ticket in DC after explaining how a particular pattern on New York Ave. NE was confusing (it was fixed).

This may be a good place to note that Donald Trump is considering stopping the daily press briefings, or heading more infrequent briefings himself, after Spicer and Sanders got roughed up by reporters questioning about Comey's dismissal timeline.

Update: June 8, 2017

George Will talks about the case of Mats Jarlstrom in Oregon on the stop-light case p A21 of the Washington Post, here.   I once got out of a ticket on NY Avenue in NE DC by complaining that hte lane markings were wrong with respect to the light, and the problem was actually fixed. 

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