Quote of the Day
As press regulation makes its way towards the statute books, like the procession of some noisy and sinister circus into the world’s most gullible town, let us at least try to bear in mind the very first words of the first issue of John Wilkes’ paper The North Briton:
“The liberty of the press is the birth-right of Britons, and is justly esteemed the firmest bulwark of the liberties of this country. It has been the terror of all bad ministers; for their dark and dangerous designs, or their weakness, inability and duplicity, have thus been detected and shown to the public, generally in too strong and just colours for them long to bear up against the odium of mankind. Can we then be surpriz’d, that so various and infinite arts have been employed at one time entirely to set aside, at another to take off the force, and blunt the edge, of this most sacred weapon, given for the defence of truth and liberty? A wicked and corrupt administration must naturally dread this appeal to the world; and will be for keeping all the means of information equally from the prince, parliament and the people. Every method will then by try’d, and all arts put into practice to check the spirit of knowledge and inquiry. Even the courts of justice have in the most dangerous way, because under sanction of law, been drawn into the dark views of an arbitrary ministry, and to stifle in the birth all infant virtue.”
The North Briton, No. 1, June 5 1762.