:: Friday, March 10, 2006 ::
Bill Frist gets one right.
Thomas Jefferson once quipped that, “Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.” But despite his low opinion of the press, he also observed that, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
From the earliest days of our republic, freedom of speech and freedom of the press – be they anonymous pamphlets, celebrated essays, or local newspapers – were understood to be fundamental to the practice and defense of liberty.
Without the ability to convey ideas, debate, dispute, and persuade, we may never have fought for and achieved our independence.
Ordinary citizens – farmers, ministers, local shop owners – published and circulated their views, often anonymously, to challenge the conventional order, and call their fellow citizens to action.
Indeed, as Boston University journalism professor Chris Daly points out, “What we think of as reporting – the pursuit, on a full time basis of verifiable facts and verbatim quotations – was not a significant part of journalism in the time of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine… In historical terms, today’s bloggers are much closer in spirit to the Revolutionary-era pamphleteers.”
And, today, it’s bloggers whom we now have to protect.
There are some who, out of fear or shortsightedness, wish to restrict the ability of our modern day-Thomas Paines to express political views on the World Wide Web.
They seek to monitor and regulate political speech under the guise of “campaign finance reform.” They argue that unfettered political expression on the Internet is dangerous, especially during the highly charged, election season.
Needless to say, I stand firmly against these efforts to hamstring the Internet and squarely with the champions of free speech – whether that expression takes place in the actual, or virtual, town square.
:: Mark 3:48 PM [+] ::