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The pen is the tongue of the mind

Posted by: | September 17, 2012 | No Comment |

Today everyone has the ability to be a journalist thanks to social media. If you want to post about the protests in the Middle East or just simply want to gossip about someone’s outfit gone wrong we can do that after stroking a few keys.

However, the ability to publish one’s thoughts was not always a given. The Licensing  Act of 1662 did not allow anyone to publish books or newspapers unless they were licensed by the Stationers Company. If you did not abide by the proper licensing rules you could potentially face imprisonment.

This legislation wasn’t initially renewed in 1679 and a wide variety of newspapers took advantage of that. Benjamin Harris was among the publishers that utilized the lapse of legislation and published the first local newspaper for colonies in 1690 entitled Publik Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick. In his paper he stated his thoughts about the military and this did not please the government The governor and council of the colony of Massachusetts closed the paper down after one issue.

                                                                                                                     Courtesy of history.org

The Licensing Act allowed the government to control what information was given to the people. Thankfully as Americans that’s not something we have to deal with on a daily basis, however some countries are still struggling with that right.

The Licensing and Press Act ended permanently in 1690 after the Glorious Revolution making it more difficult to control the content that newspapers provided. Ths gave journalists the power to publish things that they never would have been able too before.

It’s crazy to think about a time when my words would have needed government approval before I could publish them. Sometimes it’s good to take a look back and acknowledge that the things you take for granted were not always rights for the people that came before you.

under: Comm 455
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