"I don't understand how people don't see this," Shields told me, "how they don't realize that Josh Wolf and Tony Serra can make rules up as they go along to fit their needs, while anybody else, we need to abide by rules."
When I read that quote to Wolf, his response was, "What does Peter Shields think about Henry David Thoreau?" Not, Wolf told me, that he was comparing himself to Thoreau. Wolf also evokes the name of pamphleteer Thomas Paine -- not that Wolf is saying he is like Paine. Wolf says he just wants the same protection that Paine should have today. Thing is, Wolf has that protection. Like any citizen, Wolf has the right to express his opinion.
The issue here is whether Wolf should be protected by shield laws designed to protect real journalists who need to protect their sources. In Wolf's ideal world, he would qualify, not because he follows journalistic practices, but because he disseminates information to the public.
Of course, Wolf's cause appeals to the liberal sensibilities of the Special City. If a kid anarchist is willing to go to jail because he thinks he's a journalist, he must be a journalist. He feels so strongly about it. Damn the consequences.
Except a federal shield law that would protect Wolf also would protect an anti-abortion activist with a camera who attends an anti-abortion demonstration that turns violent and tapes activists as they pummel abortion clinic workers.
I asked Wolf: Should an anti-abortion blogger be able to use a shield law to protect the identity of an activist who beat up a clinic worker? He answered, "There should be some level of protection, yes."
And Ess Eff pols, including the district attorney, support Wolf. Be careful what you ask for, San Francisco.