Yet in the past year, Franklin has been the target of cancel culture. Washburn University removed Franklin’s statue to appease vandals while a Washington, 直流电, committee included him on their statue hit list. 同样地, Big Tech companies have censored former President Trump and Major League Baseball has canceled the state of Georgia over a voting law.
If Franklin were alive, would he agree with the 64% of Americans who believe that 取消文化 threatens freedom? 是, because he lived through it.
“Being frequently censur’d and condemn’d by different persons for printing things which they say ought not to be printed, I have sometimes thought it might be necessary to make a standing apology for myself, and publish it once a year,” Franklin published on June 10, 1731, in his Pennsylvania Gazette.
This 25-year-old newspaper publisher had recently printed an advertisement from a ship captain who’d obliquely compared clergymen to loud birds and refused them passage.
“Men are very angry with me on this occasion,” 他写了. “That it could proceed from nothing but my abundant malice against religion and the clergy.”
Franklin was being canceled.
“They therefore declare they will not take any more of my papers, nor have any further dealings with me; but will hinder me of all the custom they can. All this is very hard!”
Despite his anxiety, he presented freedom of speech and the press principles that are as relevant in 2021 as they were in 1731. “I request all who are angry with me on the account of printing things they don’t like, calmly to consider these following particulars.”
“That the opinions of men are almost as various as their faces.”
“That the business of printing has chiefly to do with mens’ opinions; most things that are printed tending to promote some, or oppose others,” 他解释. He noted that most business professions, such as carpenters and shoemakers, sold their products to everyone of all persuasions, religions and ethnicities, without risk “suffering the least censure or ill-will” or offending them.
“That it is as unreasonable … to expect (大家) to be pleas’d with everything that is printed, as to think that nobody ought to be pleas’d but themselves.”
Franklin’s common sense applies today, particularly to Big Tech’s intolerance of political viewpoints they disagree with and corporations like the MLB that take political sides.
“Printers are educated in the belief that when men differ in opinion, both sides ought equally to have the advantage of being heard by the public,” Franklin wrote.