The “Freedom”of the Press

One of the great realizations our founding fathers had, in addition to the importance of the freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and the ability to petition the government, was the significance of a free press.  Students of history need not study long before coming to the realization that the repeated story of humanity is one of power, oppression, and the steps many of us take to obtain those things.  From the moment Adam and Eve first reached for that forbidden fruit with the intention of becoming like God, mankind has continued reaching for that elusive goal of shedding our mortality in an attempt to grasp what isn’t available to us.  In doing so, if we can’t become gods, the next best thing is to at least rise above each other to live lives of power and comfort on the backs of those who will serve us.  

A long list of kings, emperors, dictators, and rulers litter the text of our history books. Seldom found are stories of societies consisting entirely of free and liberated people.  Our founders knew that one of the most dangerous elements to freedom is the existence of unchallenged power.  
With the five pillars of the very first amendment to what would become the Constitution of the United States, they established the principles needed to allow for the people to hold those in power accountable by having the freedom to question and challenge a government meant to represent them rather than rule them.  

The mere existence of these articulated rights creates an accountability on the part of the government. When those rights are infringed upon, it serves to sound the alarm to the people that someone is moving in on their freedoms.  

But.........what if it were possible for a government to allow the people to maintain these freedoms on paper and yet still quietly rob them of the benefits they provide?  The purpose of a free press was for it to work on behalf of the people to keep the government in check and provide a voice for the people.  By allowing for the free press, the founding fathers opened the door for the people to get their information from multiple sources, providing checks and balances to the information we receive.  If the government were every to attempt to take over the media, it should be obvious to the public that an attempt was being made to infringe on their freedoms. That same brief look through history should teach us that eventually, people will attempt to consolidate power through the government for their own gain.  

But what good is a free press if that free press becomes so competitive and greedy for the money that comes from ratings that it no longer seeks to provide people with boring truth so much as tantalizing content to keep them glued to their particular “news” outlet?  What if those running the “free press” become so confident in their own personal opinions that they lose the ability to objectively share information with the public and allow the people do decide for themselves what they believe about situations?  What if the press became more interested in using their free speech and freedoms to impress the public with their superior intelligence and insights, choosing to tell people what to think about things rather than telling them the things to think about?  What if the press outlets became so divisive and competitive with one another that people no longer knew who to believe?  What if the government no longer had the need to infringe upon the freedoms of the press, since the press had used that freedom so recklessly that it was no longer believed by the people it was meant to represent and protect?

Our founding fathers sought to set up a government less powerful than the people so that it could never overpower the people.  But sadly, government need not take power from a people who freely give that power away....and if history teaches us teaches us we eventually will do just that.     


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