The Quill And The Keyboard
Pamphleteers of the 21st Century
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Before the famous ride of Paul Revere there were, among our American ancestors, men who placed their lives and fortunes on the line by doing exactly what conservative bloggers do today. Writing their thoughts on politics and current events on paper, printing those papers into pamphlet size editions and distributing them to the public. They became known as “pamphleteers.” (among OTHER things!)
During colonial times in America, if you wanted to convince or inform people about some issue that you considered important, you went to the local printer and got some pamphlets printed. You then handed them out, read them to anybody that was interested, nailed them to the town bulletin board, or the nearest tree. The first amendment was specifically written to protect this type of activity and the writers or “pamphleteers”. SOURCE: http://thepamphleteer.blogspot.com/
“The Revolutionary pamphleteers were not professional writers but common citizens engaged in the debate of ideas; they created a sense of democracy to the intellectual struggle that preceded the call to arms.” SOURCE: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/2006/01/bloggers-pamphleteers-of-today.html
We recommend you visit this website http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/2006/01/bloggers-pamphleteers-of-today.html and read the article entitled: “Bloggers: The Pamphleteers of Today.”
Of course, they had no Internet. Well. I suppose — in a way — they did. It was commonly referred to as — a horse. It took days, weeks, and even months for news to travel from point “A” to point “B.”
Not today. In the twinkling of an eye the words we modern day pamphleteers write can be flashed around the globe.
That makes us very dangerous people.
Yes, It IS dangerous to speak the truth about our nation and our government’s unconstitutional deeds. It IS dangerous to lay out the facts concerning those who are destroying our beloved nation. And it is becoming more dangerous every day.
“Why, Longstreet? America is a FREE country. Why worry? You have freedom of speech guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Say and write what you will!”
Oh, I DO. Believe me, I seldom hold back. But — I am always conscious of the Damocles Sword hanging just over my head and the heads of all conservative bloggers on the Internet.
The US government is listening, recording, and even storing every word we write. And they have made darn sure we KNOW they are doing this.
Methinks they are hoping for a “chilling” effect upon the fiery creative juices of the “writers of the right.”
It is always dangerous to point out that the “Emperor has no clothes.” It makes one VERY unpopular with the Emperor, the most powerful among us.
Even though the appearance of “web logs” on the Internet seemed spontaneous, in truth it was not. No, blogging actually began over 200 years ago (sans the Internet) in the form of “exuberant periodicals circulated in the coffee houses and homes of England.” SOURCE: http://carolyncholland.wordpress.com/2008/02/13/1790s-pamphleteering-versus-2000s-blogging/
The new pamphleteers, the bloggers, just naturally drive the professional journalists nuts. The “Pros” claim bloggers are NOT journalists, even though by definition that is exactly what they are. Many, as, in fact, yours truly, were card-carrying members of the press corps for many decades before retirement and taking a seat at the computer keyboard as a commentator on the Internet.
I WAS a working journalist, now I am a retired journalist living life as a commentator. That does not make me special or even different. It is simply a fact.
America’s early pamphleteers ” … were not professional writers, nor were they printers. They were lawyers, farmers, ministers, merchants, or — in some cases — men whose true identities are still unknown. It was a well-established practice in colonial times for writers to use pen names, even when writing on non-controversial subjects.” Source: http://www.bu.edu/cdaly/whoisajournalist.html
The early American pamphleteers established something of an underground press in America and that underground press in many ways continues in an, uh, more OVERT fashion, today by way of bloggers on the most public of all means of publication — the Internet.
Thomas Paine was one of America’s greatest pamphleteers and today would be atop the considerable heap of American bloggers … or in jail.
“Common Sense,” by Thomas Paine, was the perfect example of the kind of political journalism that Thomas Jefferson was mindful of as he pushed so hard for an amendment to the constitution in 1790 to protect press freedom. Jefferson felt, and rightfully so, that anonymous, highly opinionated writing from diverse, independent sources ought to be protected. Jefferson knew — first hand — of its importance and the impact it had had on the events immediately preceding the War for Independence from Great Britain — even the war itself.
In historical terms, today’s bloggers are much closer in spirit to the Revolutionary-era pamphleteers than today’s giant, conglomerate mainstream media. On those grounds, blogs deserve the full constitutional blessings that the First Amendment guarantees.
There is much concern among the consumers of news these days that the Mainstream Media, has “sold out” to the political left in America. News junkies have been turning, more and more, to to the blogosphere to get some degree of “balance” to the news and commentary they consume. Once they taste true INDEPENDENT reporting and commentary from the blogosphere, they rarely return to the MsM. This what I like to call: “Right Flight!”
Right Flight has resulted in lower readership for the country’s leading newspapers and magazines. A lower circulation figure results in fewer and smaller ad purchases by advertisers who want to place THEIR money where the numbers are — for maximum exposure and a better return on their advertising dollars.
As a result of this shake-up in the way news consumers choose to get their news –world-wide — many of the leading newspaper publishers have been forced to cut back their operations, lay off workers, and, in worst case scenarios, close up shop. Is it any wonder the Mainstream Media HATES bloggers?
The MsM has apparently failed to understand WHY their readership has fled. It is much easier for them to point fingers at conservative bloggers than to assess the self inflicted damage their overt/covert left-wing bias has brought their enterprise.
With America clinging to a ledge and dangling above the disaster of a complete economic collapse and the lack of trust in the those charged to tell Americans the truth through their publications, the writings of the modern day pamphleteers are soaring in popularity.
There seems to be a natural inclination, when in times of trouble or distress, for people seeking information to trust the non-professional purveyor of news over the establishment. That fuels the popularity of bloggers and gives them the edge.
If the early American pamphleteers like Paine, Jefferson, the Adams cousins, and so many others, could experience the Internet, especially the blogs on the Internet today, I daresay their eyes would glow and their hearts would pump a bit faster.
For the pamphleteer the quill has become the keyboard. The ink stained fingers have become carpal-tunnel syndrome. But the goal remains the same. To publish one’s thoughts, opinions, and analysis of the current problems plaguing the reader of the scribblings of the pamphleteer/blogger.
The more things change — the more they stay the same.
© J. D. Longstreet
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