Heeding Mr. Jefferson’s words

Published 10:45 pm Monday, January 22, 2018

The press, populated by individuals who, being human, are prone to mistakes, is inherently imperfect. Always has been. Always will be.

However flawed the institution of a free press may be, one needn’t take long scanning the landscape of societies without a free press to realize that a free, albeit innately flawed press is certainly better than the alternative.

Generations ago, while this imperfect republic of ours was still in its infancy, our imperfect founders knew even then that a free press was vital if we were to be a people that controlled its government rather than a people controlled by its government.

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That sentiment has never been more important in the life of our society than it is today.

One of those imperfect founders, Thomas Jefferson, wrote the following words in 1787. We would all do well to revisit and heed his words.

“The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty.

The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, & to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people.

The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and 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.

But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them.”