Paul Elisha: Liberty and license in our democracy
With the aggressive and all-encompassing advent of computer-driven technology, to the seeming Nth degree, in American socio-economic activity, one wonders if reliable public enlightenment is still possible, via the welter of virtual warfare, between what was once the professional informational media establishment and the so-called ‘Social Media’ horde that now threatens to obliterate it?
Any honest response must focus on the already precariously insecure cornerstone of our Constitution’s First Amendment assurance for freedom of speech. That assurance has been hassled and sullied by an endlessly prolific onslaught of pure, for-profit coercion.
Add to this the once unimagined computerized Web, that allows any loquacious ‘wannabe’ to launch an ever-audible career as maven, menace or matchless master, with subject matter ranging from ultra-scientific to ridiculous and the resultant chaos of cacophony becomes obvious.
One might remind this critic that as long as four hundred years ago, the Baron de Montesquieu noted that “Liberty is the right of doing whatever the laws permit.” Still, despite the onus of our judiciary to “…safeguard our liberty, under the Constitution,” as the once Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes put it, even a respected jurist, like the great Louis Brandeis, noted that: “the process of trial and error, so fruitful in the physical sciences is also appropriate in the judicial function.”
So this commentator wonders if perhaps now, it just might not be appropriate, to take another look at that all-important First Amendment, with the view of separating the clap-trap from the professionally responsible – perhaps with some sort of licensure added for respect – to reassure the reading, viewing, listening and voting public that what they’re getting is believable?
As John Milton noted, way back in 1649: “…none but good men can love freedom heartily; the rest love not freedom but license.“ After all, even today’s lawyers, teachers and even cosmetologists must pass exams and become licensed. Why not professionally trained and suitably employed journalists? Something to think upon, as the “Blogosphere” grows ever more omnipresent and ominously fetid, with whatever whomever wants to overstuff it with who-knows-what!
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