Bloggers serve as the pamphleteers of the 21st century. In this service they follow a long, distinguished line of American writers.

   Alexander Hamilton, who almost single-handedly invented the American system of finance, often wrote polemical pieces under various pseudonyms. Hamilton was a genius (brilliance is not measurable; you either are or you are not brilliant) in various categories. His temperament also mirrored the tortured psyche of an abandoned immigrant, leading to his rash proposals of duels for which he was habitually unprepared.

   Still, a bull seeking his own fatal china closet, Hamilton produced some of the most persuasive pieces of pamphleteering in American history. His writings were often criticized as one-sided, injurious, even libelous;  perhaps so, but Hamilton wrote to the point and was seldom dull.

   Perhaps the best known American pamphleteer was Ben Franklin. During the throes of the Revolution, Franklin wrote that to call King George III of England "a crowned brute" was "unfair to brutes."

   The most famous of American pamphleteers also wrote that "an honest man is worth all the crowned ruffians who ever lived." Persons reading these sayings were shocked, even outraged.

    Bloggers are the new American pamphleteers.

   Bloggers are the new American muckrakers. Upton Sinclair and Lincoln Steffens opened windows of illumination to various oppressive labor policies. Their writing fell for short of the Shakespearean; it incited public outrage and eventual change.

    Ethicists sometimes opine the depth of refinement in a culture is directly proportional to its ability to offer succor across distances of time, space and social barriers. Bloggers reach across time, space and social restrictions. Some decry the strident pronouncements of various writers. We would do well to remember that one man's fit is another man's Temple Cleansing.


6 thoughts on “BlogEthics”

  1. In the spring of 2005, I (having a bit of free time on my hands) reread “The Federalist”. Being attracted to that book may be why I am attracted to blogs and why the first part of a newspaper that I read (including the Baptist Standard) is the letters to the editor. Blogging allows a person’s thoughts to be shared without an editor to change the meaning either intentionally or not. Just like Hamilton et al using a birds feather and lamp black (I would, however bring back parchment), later generations using the typewriter and now paperless inkless electronic communication, bloggers fill an important niche.
    Let the reader beware. Let the reader think!
    Blog on, Brother Rick!

  2. I never dreamed anyone would be interested in what a senior adult minister thinks. I have been amazed at how my own blog has developed, world-wide. It is amazing. On any given day we have readers from China, Russia, Germany, Thailand, Australia, Canada, and almost evey state. Imagine what old Ben Franklin might have done with that kind of opportunity. It continually reminds me to focus on that which is good and wholesome and not on the muck. I love reading your blog, as well as several others, because they enrich my life.

  3. Rick:
    As always … well stated.
    I agree with your analysis of the value of the pamphleteers in American history. I disagree, however, with your blanket statement that “bloggers serve as the pamphleteers of the 21st century …”
    It is true, no doubt, that SOME bloggers are the pamphleteers of the 21st century. Others are the “National Enquirers” of the 21st century. Others still, defy definition.
    Blogs are used for many purposes. While the art and craft of blogging and the technology that makes it possible are neutral … the purposes and methods are not. At the present time those purposes and methods are almost as varied as the bloggers who employ them.
    SOME bloggers strike chords of disonance with an eloquence and wit that causes the mind’s eye to blink with recognition. They can sting and enrage, but they always make you think. They would make Ben and Alex proud.
    OTHER bloggers pound away at their craft with the tenacity and temerity of the infamous bull in a china closet. Every astute reader feels lucky when the right chord is struck. It’s the right chord, but when every chord in sight has been plucked, the right one is bound to be hit eventually.
    Granted … there were pamphleteers in the eighteenth century that employed this method … I just can’t remember their names.
    The pamphleteers of the eighteenth century that you mentioned are, of course, the ones most remembered. And for good reason. There were hundreds of pamphleteers during that era … I couldn’t name more than half a dozen. The work of the most brilliant stands the test of time. Or perhaps … they were simply the voices that most consistently rang true.
    Time does tell … creme does rise to the top … In the end, that may be the most we can hope for …
    Until then … while we are assaulted with a multifarious landscape of 21st century “pamphleteers,” it is always good to remember that creme is not the only thing that floats to the top.

  4. I have the privilege of being the youngest of the family. I did not always count it a privilege… but I have an ability (bred by necessity) to listen to myriad opinions and then select the one that (to borrow Ellis’ phraseology) rang true. While it is true that there are many bloggers that are not taking the same well-spoken path that Dr. Davis treads, if you’re on the lookout for cream, you’re not likely to scoop up something else that’s floating…

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