We The Kids

“Returning God
to America’s Story”

The Freedom of the Press – By Daniel Sheridan

#OTD, July 8, 1889, the “Wall Street Journal” begins publishing.

“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press…” #FirstAmendment

Sir William Blackstone said, “Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public.” Freedom of speech is essential in a society, for free debate leads to the correction of public errors. But Blackstone also warned that “if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequences of his temerity.” Freedom of speech comes with responsibilities.

“The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” –Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823.

“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Jay

The First Amendment says THE freedom of the press, which was an existing right, and that is why the framers inserted the definite article. What is the press? It includes “all modes of putting facts, views, and opinions before the public.” Because of easy access to information, modern Americans are, in some measure, amateur press members. Think about that whenever you share “information.” What is your motivation? Are you doing it for truth’s sake? Or, are you motivated by party, willing to sell out your conscience for an election victory? If you’re a Christian, are you ready to toss your Bible out the window so you can bear false witness to promote your candidate and issues? When you achieve a victory through vanity, your returns will only be diminished. 

Benjamin Franklin provided an example of virtuous news stewardship. He refused to print a vicious article. When the author asked why, “It is highly scurrilous and defamatory,” was Ben’s reply. “But being at a loss, on account of my poverty, whether to reject it or not, I thought I would put it to this issue. At night when my work was done, I bought a twopenny loaf, on which I supped heartily, and then, wrapping myself in my great coat, slept very soundly on the floor until morning, when another loaf and mug of water afforded a pleasant breakfast. Now, sir, since I can live very comfortably in this manner, why should I prostitute my press to personal hatred or party passion for a more luxurious living?”

Daniel Sheridan

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