Josh Wolf has become a cause celebre for the fruitbat left, but I don't see many right wing or libertarian voices raised in his support and that's a shame. Wolf is a San Francisco based blogger and videographer who was a pioneer of video blogging. He is a far-left anarchist, but that doesn't have anything to do with the problems he's facing right now, because in principle they could happen to any citizen - or indeed mainstream - journalist. And it's time more noise was made, not least because of this:
Wolf has served more prison time [184 days and counting] for refusing a court order than any other journalist in US history.In 2005, Wolf videoed an anti-G8 demonstration that turned violent. He sold some of his footage to media organisations. The Federal authorities ordered he release other footage but he refused.
The reasons he and his supporters cite generally revolve around First Amendment rights and the right of journalists to protect their sources (which doesn't seem to me to apply in this case), but I suspect a factor is also that he agrees with the people he filmed burning police cars and doesn't want them to get arrested.
But although there is a certain amount of posturing in his stance, and there is straightforward dishonesty on the part of many of his advocates on the left who choose to imply he has been imprisoned for blogging, he is in the right. He should not have to hand over his footage.
If violent demonstrators knew that journalists filming them would be compelled to hand over footage, they'd attack the journalists. We need to know these events can be filmed and increasingly we need them to be filmed and photographed by citizen journalists. That's because the mainstream media is squeamish to the point of dishonesty when it comes to showing horrific anti-semitic banners at Stop The War rallies, left-wing violence and the neo-Nazi behaviour of organisations like Hezbollah.
Wolf's campaign, if successful, would be of much more benefit to libertarians and the right than the left. All journalists, including citizen amateurs, need to be able to protect sources, exercise free speech and withhold source material.
There's a petition supporting Wolf here. I just signed it.