“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” Benjamin Franklin
By the way, today is the anniversary of a major victory for free speech in America. If you imagine that politics is raucous, mean or difficult now, please read the Constitution Daily story on the Zenger case. The Franklin quote predates the Zenger trial.
On August 4, 1735, a jury acquitted publisher John Peter Zenger of libel charges against New York’s colonial governor, in an early landmark moment for the free press and the American legal system.
Years later, Founding Father Gouverneur Morris said the verdict in Crown v. Zenger was “the germ of American freedom, the morning star of that liberty which subsequently revolutionized America!”
[Notice the different spellings of governor…as if by unshackling ourselves from the Brits, we simultaneously rid our country of extra letters, including the u in color and honor. We are the better for it, though like the Queen on the money and the fear of the letter z, Canadians still cling to the old ways. — Dave. ]
Lawyers were disbarred, rules were broken, and still the “freeness” of speech was upheld.
“The question before the Court and you, Gentlemen of the jury, is not of small or private concern. It is not the cause of one poor printer, nor of New York alone, which you are now trying. No! It may in its consequence affect every free man that lives under a British government on the main of America. It is the best cause. It is the cause of liberty,” [Alexander] Hamilton pleaded.
Stupid and evil existed in their time and they resisted it in the press and in the courts.
Do we have the strength, do our neighbors have the wisdom and strength to put down the remotes long enough to care?
Are we a fading echo of Franklin and Hamilton?
In fat and lazy times, when freedom comes easy, we get complacent. Somehow I think that time is drawing to a close.
Will you let these folks rule your press, your speech, your religious choices and your right to assemble?
Sorry. Wrong picture.