Tuesday, May 7, 2013

King George had his own State Controlled Media too

On the website for McGraw-Hill, there is an interesting poll question available for now:

#1: Fearing the power of an unrestricted printing press during 1476-1776, the British Crown:

A) Required individuals to obtain a license before printing materials.

B) Forced printers to deposit large sums of money in the form of bonds.

C) Made it a crime to criticize the government in print.

D) All of the above.

D is the right answer, let it be stated. Trying to find information from monarchical decrees that's centuries old, on the internet, can be quite an infuriating task. But I was able to dig up the 1586 Star Chamber Decree, which states among other things, this:

no presses were to be set up outside the City of London

The Star Chamber Decree of 1637 was just as bad:

I Imprimis, That no Person or Persons whatsoever shall presume to Print or cause to be Printed, either in the Parts beyond the Seas, or in this Realm, or other his Majesty's Dominions, any Seditious, Schismatical, or offensive Books or Pamphlets, to the scandal of Religion, or the Church, or the Government, or Governors of the Church and State, or Common-wealth, or of any Corporation, or particular Person or Persons whatsoever, nor shall import any such Book or Books, nor sell or dispose of them, or any of them, nor cause any such to be Bound, Stitched, or Sowed, upon Pain of he or they

It goes on from there. Note that last line: "upon pain of he or they". If you didn't print what the state wanted you to, they hurt you physically! This was during the reign of Charles I, who was such a dictator that they came up with the Grand Remonstrance in 1641, and ended up beheading the tyrant. Much of what he did they loosened, but not all of it.

Finally, the Licensing of the Press act of 1662, held the long title of "An Act for preventing the frequent Abuses in printing seditious treasonable and unlicensed Bookes and Pamphlets and for regulating of Printing and Printing Presses". This act was in force throughout the Colonial and Founding eras.

I read through some of them, I am fairly sure there were also other decrees and parliamentary acts which further entrench this power within government at the time. Another aspect of how the King controlled the early press was financially. The first newspaper published in America was the The Boston News-Letter, which was bought and paid for by the British government. The News-Letter was a Loyalist paper. Looking at some of the "big names" associated with the News-Letter, two stand out: Margaret Draper and Bartholomew Green - both of whom were loyalists.

With this level of tyranny imposed upon people who wished to state their beliefs honestly, it's no wonder that the First Amendment states what it does. The Founders wanted freedom of the press because they knew what an unfree press looked like and how powerful it was. That's why they got together in their Committees of Correspondence, in part, to educate each other with the truth. They knew the press was lying to them. Just like we have today. Except that there really aren't all of these decrees in place today. We have a free press, and it has freely chosen progressivism. It chooses to lie to us of its own free will.

Generally speaking, the role of journalism and the press in support of tyrants historically has been woefully under-explored.


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