Milton, speaking in 1644 said:
“Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded in by tickets and statutes and standards. We must not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the land, to mark and license it like our broadcloth and our woolpacks.”
Over three hundred years later and legislators still provide statutes and licenses for only their opinions and those of their backers.
When Milton presented the Areopagitica (or, its full title Areopagitica: A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England), the Star Chamber had been closed only two years and legislators were hurrying to pass laws to censor printed works.
We have evolved our technology but not our society, and the same issues are alive today in the U.S. Congress. Indeed, the Congress has returned the Star Chamber (secret courts, secret detentions, arbitrary judgement – all of it for the benefit of the powerful and presented as the protection of the powerless). Now Congress seeks to hand control of the latest ‘printing press’ to the lofty 1% who will regulate for their own benefit.
Milton’s context is explored at 3 Quarks Daily.