As we venture out into this new endeavor together I would be remiss to fail in the recognition of our Founding Fathers. As much as modern pundits and politicos like to invoke men like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington to make points that they lack the wisdom and vocabulary to espouse, I too, and in our inaugural post no less, wish to do the same. I still marvel at these mighty visionaries and wordsmiths for their ability to weave our language in such a way that the wise among us never fail to see their exact meaning, the logical among us never fail to see their exact reasons, and yet the corrupt the malcontent and the uneducated among us always do.
So here, in my first venture into the political realm I wish to share with you an apology. I’ve yet to offend anyone’s sensibilities. I have not yet drawn a line in the political sand. I have done nothing to incite any criticism or ruffle any feathers. But, in the same vein as its original author, Benjamin Franklin in 1731, this sets the tone for what is to come from this site and this staff.
“Being frequently censur’d and condemn’d by different Persons for printing Things which they say ought not to be printed, I have sometimes thought it might be necessary to make a standing Apology for my self, and publish it once a Year, to be read upon all Occasions of that Nature. Much Business has hitherto hindered the execution of this Design; but having very lately given extraordinary Offence by printing an Advertisement with a certain “N.B.” at the End of it, I find an Apology more particularly requisite at this Juncture, tho’ it happens when I have not yet Leisure to write such a thing in the proper Form, and can only in a loose manner throw those Considerations together which should have been the Substance of it.
I request all who are angry with me on the Account of printing things they don’t like, calmly to consider these following Particulars
1. That the Opinions of Men are almost as various as their Faces; an Observation general enough to become a common Proverb, “So many Men so many Minds.”
2. That the Business of Printing has chiefly to do with Mens Opinions; most things that are printed tending to promote some, or oppose others.
3. That hence arises the peculiar Unhappiness of that Business, which other Callings are no way liable to; they who follow Printing being scarce able to do any thing in their way of getting a Living, which shall not probably give Offence to some, and perhaps to many; whereas the Smith, the Shoemaker, the Carpenter, or the Man of any other Trade, may work indifferently for People of all Persuasions, without offending any of them: and the Merchant may buy and sell with Jews, Turks, Hereticks, and Infidels of all sorts, and get Money by every one of them, without giving Offence to the most orthodox, of any sort; or suffering the least Censure or Ill-will on the Account from any Man whatever.
4. That it is as unreasonable in any one Man or Set of Men to expect to be pleas’d with every thing that is printed, as to think that nobody ought to be pleas’d but themselves.
5. Printers are educated in the Belief, that when Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter: Hence they chearfully serve all contending Writers that pay them well, without regarding on which side they are of the Question in Dispute.
6. Being thus continually employ’d in serving all Parties, Printers naturally acquire a vast Unconcernedness as to the right or wrong Opinions contain’d in what they print; regarding it only as the Matter of their daily labour: They print things full of Spleen and Animosity, with the utmost Calmness and Indifference, and without the least Ill-will to the Persons reflected on; who nevertheless unjustly think the Printer as much their Enemy as the Author, and join both together in their Resentment.
7. That it is unreasonable to imagine Printers approve of every thing they print, and to censure them on any particular thing accordingly; since in the way of their Business they print such great variety of things opposite and contradictory. It is likewise as unreasonable what some assert, “That Printers ought not to print any Thing but what they approve;” since if all of that Business should make such a Resolution, and abide by it, an End would thereby be put to Free Writing, and the World would afterwards have nothing to read but what happen’d to be the Opinions of Printers.
8. That if all Printers were determin’d not to print any thing till they were sure it would offend no body, there would be very little printed.
9. That if they sometimes print vicious or silly things not worth reading, it may not be because they approve such things themselves, but because the People are so viciously and corruptly educated that good things are not encouraged. . . .
10. That notwithstanding what might be urg’d in behalf of a Man’s being allow’d to do in the Way of his Business whatever he is paid for, yet Printers do continually discourage the Printing of great Numbers of bad things, and stifle them in the Birth. I my self have constantly refused to print any thing that might countenance Vice, or promote Immorality; tho’ by complying in such Cases with the corrupt Taste of the Majority, I might have got much Money. I have also always refus’d to print such things as might do real Injury to any Person, how much soever I have been solicited, and tempted with Offers of great Pay; and how much soever I have by refusing got the Ill-will of those who would have employ’d me. I have heretofore fallen under the Resentment of large Bodies of Men, for refusing absolutely to print any of their Party or Personal Reflections. In this Manner I have made my self many Enemies, and the constant Fatigue of denying is almost insupportable. But the Publick being unacquainted with all this, whenever the poor Printer happens either through Ignorance or much Persuasion, to do any thing that is generally thought worthy of Blame, he meets with no more Friendship or Favour on the above Account, than if there were no Merit in’t at all. Thus, as “Waller” says,
“Poets loose half the Praise they would have got Were it but known what they discreetly blot;”
Yet are censur’d for every bad Line found in their Works with the utmost Severity.
I take leave to conclude with an old Fable, which some of my Readers have heard before, and some have not.
‘A certain well-meaning Man and his Son, were travelling towards a Market Town, with an Ass which they had to sell. The Road was bad; and the old Man therefore rid, but the Son went a-foot. The first Passenger they met, asked the Father if he was not ashamed to ride by himself, and suffer the poor Lad to wade along thro’ the Mire; this induced him to take up his Son behind him: He had not travelled far, when he met others, who said, they were two unmerciful Lubbers to get both on the Back of that poor Ass, in such a deep Road. Upon this the old Man gets off, and let his Son ride alone. The next they met called the Lad a graceless, rascally young Jackanapes, to ride in that Manner thro’ the Dirt, while his aged Father trudged along on Foot; and they said the old Man was a Fool, for suffering it. He then bid his Son come down, and walk with him, and they travell’d on leading the Ass by the Halter; ’till they met another Company, who called them a Couple of sensless Blockheads, for going both on Foot in such a dirty Way, when they had an empty Ass with them, which they might ride upon. The old Man could bear no longer; My Son, said he, it grieves me much that we cannot please all these People; Let us throw the Ass over the next Bridge, and be no farther troubled with him.’
Had the old Man been seen acting this last Resolution, he would probably have been call’d a Fool for troubling himself about the different Opinions of all that were pleas’d to find Fault with him: Therefore, tho’ I have a Temper almost as complying as his, I intend not to imitate him in this last Particular. I consider the Variety of Humours among Men, and despair of pleasing every Body; yet I shall not therefore leave off Printing. I shall continue my Business. I shall not burn my Press and melt my Letters.”
“Apology for Printers” published in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin in his Pennsylvania Gazette.
Franklin’s key point as it relates to PeoplePolitico.com is simple, it was once the job of the printers to ensure that both sides of an issue were addressed equally. The printers of today have failed. It takes a monumental, sometimes superhuman, effort to wade through the sea of spin, opinion, and outright lies perpetuated by the pundits on the left and the right. The vast majority of you, like our staff, exist somewhere in the middle.
James Madison wrote “Some degree of abuse is inseparable from the proper use of everything; and in no instance is this more true, than in that of the press. It has accordingly been decided by the practice of the states, that it is better to leave a few of its noxious branches to their luxuriant growth, than by pruning them away, to injure the vigour of those yielding the proper fruits. And can the wisdom of this policy be doubted by any who reflect, that to the press alone, chequered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity, over error and oppression; who reflect, that to the same beneficent source, the United States owe much of the lights which conducted them to the rank of a free and independent nation; and which have improved their political system into a shape so auspicious to their happiness.”. Unfortunately, it seems the luxuriant growth of the noxious branches have yielded so much fruit that they are now choking out those proper and reliable news sources.
It is our goal here at PeoplePolitico.com to embrace the ideals of our Founding Fathers and their vision of the press. While I cannot say that all of our authors will present information to you free from their own bias, I will promise you that their opinions and mine will be presented with honest opinions based on actual facts. Your opinions, as our audience and as Americans, will be heard as well. Not only are you free to check our facts, but we encourage you to do so. Post your opinions. Share your views. We offer you a place to do so as free from rhetoric and hyperbole as our staff can make it.
Welcome to PeoplePolitico.com. Welcome to Politics as they should be.
K. Alan Jacks