Go ahead and file this in the ever expanding category of: “WTF, how is this possible, America is becoming a crazy banana republic.”
When I first saw this headline, I was certain it had to be misleading. Someone had to be exaggerating in the pursuit of click-bait. Incredibly, it was another case of truth being stranger than fiction, with the article actually far worse than I imagined.
You ready for this? Have a seat, take a deep breath, and brace yourself for unbridled fascism. From OregonLive:
The U.S. Forest Service has tightened restrictions on media coverage in vast swaths of the country’s wild lands, requiring reporters to pay for a permit and get permission before shooting a photo or video in federally designated wilderness areas.
Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in 36 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.
Yes, you read that right. This also applies to smartphone pictures. Ridiculous.
Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don’t get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.
First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they’d allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.
Liz Close, the Forest Service’s acting wilderness director, says the restrictions have been in place on a temporary basis for four years and are meant to preserve the untamed character of the country’s wilderness.
Close didn’t cite any real-life examples of why the policy is needed or what problems it’s addressing. She didn’t know whether any media outlets had applied for permits in the last four years.
With smartphones blurring the lines between reporters and camera crews, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said the agency should tread more carefully.
“The Forest Service needs to rethink any policy that subjects noncommercial photographs and recordings to a burdensome permitting process for something as simple as taking a picture with a cell phone,” Wyden said. “Especially where reporters and bloggers are concerned, this policy raises troubling questions about inappropriate government limits on activity clearly protected by the First Amendment.”
The First Amendment prohibits the creation of laws that abridge press freedom. Asked whether the Forest Service believes its rule violates the First Amendment, Close replied: “It does not apply to breaking news.”
Looks like someone hasn’t read the Constitution in a while. Or ever.
The Forest Service is currently accepting public comment on its proposal. Those interested can comment online here.
The Washington Post also covered the story here: U.S. Forest Service Wants to Charge $1,500 to Take Photos on Federal Wild Lands
Do I really even need to comment on the ridiculousness of this? It’s Federal land. It’s for the citizens. We are the government. It seems bureaucrats the world over are overdue for a powerful reminder.
For more articles highlighting how citizens are increasingly being treated as slaves, while the rich and powerful get away with incredible crimes, see:
Our IP Address: