One long held belief of mine is that much can be learned by simple observation. Academic learning is certainly a leg up but simple education without observational validation seems to me to render an intellectual inquiry incomplete. This is why, after living two years in the UK, I have often proposed that we should watch the Isle of Britain for a directional indication of our future, especially since Obama seems to believe that the European form of “social democracy” is the end result of Hope ‘N Change.
The fact is that we are so similar and yet so different, it is almost like watching different cultures of bacteria subjected to the same medium grow in a Petri dish.
Most people know that England has no constitution and no constitutional provisions for a free press. The Sun gives a brief history:
Britain’s first printing press was set up by William Caxton in 1476. But the authorities were so alarmed by the idea of a free Press that the first English-language newspaper had to be published in Amsterdam in 1620.
From 1632 to 1638 all newspapers were banned here. During the Civil War, newspapers and pamphlets were printed and distributed nationwide. But when the monarchy was restored in 1662 a free Press was outlawed. The Licensing Of The Press Act, made it illegal to have a printing press without permission. The act was allowed to lapse in 1695 — effectively freeing the Press.
To really understand what that provision is worth in our Constitution, we only need to look at what is happening in the UK.
Most in the US probably aren’t familiar with the Leveson Inquiry but it is explained here:
The Prime Minister announced a two-part inquiry investigating the role of the press and police in the phone-hacking scandal, on 13 July 2011. Lord Justice Leveson was appointed as Chairman of the Inquiry.
Part 1 of the Inquiry examined the culture, practices and ethics of the press and, in particular, the relationship of the press with the public, police and politicians. Lord Justice Leveson was assisted by a panel of six independent assessors with expertise in the key issues that were considered.
Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearings on 14 November 2011, saying:“The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?” A wide range of witnesses, including newspaper reporters, management, proprietors, police officers and politicians of all parties, all gave evidence to the Inquiry under oath and in public.
The “phone hacking scandal” is explained at Wikipedia:
The News International phone-hacking scandal — dubbed “Hackgate”, “Rupertgate”, or “Murdochgate” by the press — is an ongoing controversy involving the defunct News of the World and other British newspapers published by News International, a subsidiary of News Corporation. Employees of the newspaper were accused of engaging in phone hacking, police bribery, and exercising improper influence in the pursuit of publishing stories. Investigations conducted from 2005–2007 concluded that the paper’s phone hacking activities were limited to celebrities, politicians and members of the British Royal Family. In July 2011, it was revealed that the phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, relatives of deceased British soldiers, and victims of the 7/7 London bombings were also accessed, resulting in a public outcry against News Corporation and owner Rupert Murdoch. Advertiser boycotts contributed to the closure of theNews of the World on 10 July, ending 168 years of publication. Continued public pressure later forced News Corporation to cancel its proposed takeover of the British telecommunications company BSkyB.
In two years, I never heard it called “Hackgate”, “Rupertgate”, or “Murdochgate” but the rest of the description is accurate.
Well, the politicians, allied with privileged statists like actor Hugh Grant, are now using this as an opportunity to subject the UK press to political control:
Talks between the three main political parties will continue on Monday morning in the hope of reaching a cross-party agreement, but if they break down Labour and the Liberal Democrats will join forces in an attempt to force through a form of regulation backed by statute.
Defeat for David Cameron would mean that Hacked Off, the campaign group fronted by Hugh Grant, would win its battle to give MPs some powers to intervene in newspapers’ affairs.
Opponents of statutory regulation argue that in future, newspaper campaigns that expose major scandals would be much harder to carry out under the Labour and Lib Dem model for regulation.
Winston Churchill once said of the press:
A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny… where free institutions are indigenous to the soil and men have the habit of liberty, the press will continue to be the Fourth Estate, the vigilant guardian of the rights of the ordinary citizen.
The UK is a deeply socialist state with governmental control over almost every aspect of a life but the press is one area where there are still freedoms with each paper acknowledging its political pedigree, unlike in the US where the New York Times pretends to be objective – the Guardian and the Independent are fiercely leftist and proud of it – so there are truly opposite sides of every issue presented. If the UK loses the ability of the press to report the news through some sort of one view, politically homogenized Newspeak, Britain is truly lost. If they give up the right to freedom of the press to satisfy a group of primping, perfumed and powdered poofters, it’s over.
I bring this up because we have enemies on the left who work every day to erode the protection of our natural rights secured to us in the U.S. Constitution and we also have “allies” who seem to think that a little erosion is not a concern.
Forget saying that it can’t happen here because it can.