21 April 2009

Where should the source of our moral judgment be based?

I just finished watching a movie called Nothing But the Truth. It is about a female reporter faces a possible jail sentence for outing a CIA agent and refusing to reveal her source. [quote from IMDB]. It has prompted me to ask how much power should the government have? Among these: freedom of speech, national security and torture, which has priority over which?

We have a natural tendency to form group, a country IS a group. However, there are other groups that we are simultaneously belong to, e.g. friends, family, clubs, companies, etc just to name a few. Religious groups are another example. But most important of all, we are all homo sapiens. US of America has the first amendment to her constitution which protects individual's right. The issue tackled in the movie was the right of a reporter over the source of the information.

In order to protect free speech, enable an informed citizenship and ensure government is accountable, any reporter has the right to protect the source of information. USA high court has ruled that that right to protect the source of information was overridden by the national security. When government used national security as a mean to force the source of information from the reporter and when the reporter refused to provide such information, the reporter would be sent to jail - a form of torture (not necessarily physical or mental torture per sec, but nevertheless imposed great stress) to "force" the reporter to reveal the source.

Where should the source of our moral judgment be based? Who is right and who is wrong? Is the reporter too stupid to give up so much just to fight for a principle?

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