Published Date Written by Bob HigginsLooking at how the media has changed in the years since entry on to the big dirt ball, it's always fascinating to look back on the media of the day on historical occasions. As a treat for the reader, imagine of today's media environment had been around during the summer of 1776. If there had been television and radio broadcasts back in the day, it might have looked something like this.
REYNARD NEWS NETWORK ANCHOR: "Good evening, colonies. We begin our broadcast tonight with a stunning news story. Just hours ago, delegates from all thirteen colonies announced that they had come to "a decision" on whether or not to continue the resolution regarding an "independence" movement in the colonies. We begin our story tonight with Rushfield Limberger, Philadelphia Radio correspondent and columnist. Rushfield?"
"Thanks Tom. Sources inside the alleged 'Continental Congress,' a loose collection of agitators hand picked by weasel governors in each of the colonies, have apparently produced some sort of document. It is unknown at this time what the document contains, but sources placed well inside the group of troublemakers to keep an eye on them report that essentially, this is a declaration of war against the crown."
"Rushfield, that sounds downright treasonous. The honorable king has done nothing scandalous, other than rouse a few troublemakers in the Massachusetts colonies. It is universally acknowledged that the King had no choice but to shut down the Massachusetts ports until a major part of the crowns revenue, the East India Company, had been repaid for all that dumped tea. What are you hearing there?"
"Tom, this is a congress of confusion here. I've just been passed a copy of the document by an honorable local printer named Dunlap. From a quick examination of the document, this is certainly treasonous material. Our King is accused of many 'crimes' here. Quite frankly, the only charge I don't see listed here is an accusation of worrying livestock. If these so called "revolutionaries" are not careful, the King will most likely hunt them all down and hang them."
"Can you tell us more of this document? It sounds like something that must be hundreds of pages long. There is no way those representatives had time to read it all, much less understand it."
"Tom, it only appears to be one densely packed page of tiny handwriting, but the 'litany of offenses' section takes up most of the page. From what I've seen so far, it is a collection of petty and mostly forgotten incidents like the bombing of Falmouth, located in the northern part of the Massachusetts Colony. Those aggravated sots complain that a few puny shells burned the town to the ground. It's high time we forget these petty squabbles and get on with the business of running this collection of colonies."
"Rushfield, is there anyone there who will take credit for producing this document?"
"Yes, Tom. Joining me now are Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, two members of the 'working committee' that drafted this declaration. Gentlemen, You've doomed us all with your treason. You should be dragged out and shot. What do you have to say in your defense, Mr Jefferson?"
"Rushfield, I feel confident that future generations of colonists will view this as a turning point. Today, we declared ourselves and independent entity, no longer subject to the damned King or his foolish laws. We didn't vote for him, he isn't OUR King, and quite frankly, his entire family and connections are suspect."
"Wow, Mr. Jefferson. Surely you will hang for this. While we are on the subject of families, it has come to our attention that you yourself have some family irregularity, notibly involving a domestic slave of yours named 'Sally Hemings.' Just what DID happen..."
"Rushfield, I've mentioned repeatedly that I will not be inquired about on that matter. This interview is over."
"Turning now to Mr Franklin. Sir, how can you honestly state that you are working 'for the colonies interest' when it is a well known FACT that your illegitimate son, a William Temple Franklin, is a paid 'Royal Governor of New Jersey!' Why, you connection alone are suspect. What other manner of treasonous sots are in there working on this buffoonery! Are those backstabbers from New York there, the ones that were EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN from taking part in any independence movement there?"
"The gentlemen from New York are present. I believe that they all voted 'present' rather than 'aye' or 'nay.' "
"Joining us now is a John Hancock. Mr Hancock, who appears to be a bit of a dandy with his silk stockings, what can you tell us?"
"This is a foundation document. We have told the king to bugger off, so to speak. We have explained to him for a long time that we don't wish a fight, but if he wants one, I'm to understand the correct idiom of the day is to say, 'bring it.'"
"Tom, I don't quite know what to make of these revolutionaries. Hancock just looks weird, Jefferson is a notorious race mixing bigamist who had fathered at least one illegitimate child, as has Mr Franklin, a bizarre so called 'journalist' and 'inventor'. How can we trust our future to these people? I have it on good authority that Franklin was CARRIED here in a sedan chair, by shackled slaves from the Philadelphia debtors prison! Are these the types of incorrigible characters that we should entrust our futures, and the futures of our posterity?"
"Rushfield, I echo your concern with the 'mega-ditto'. I just don't know what to make of these revolutionaries. I'm quite sure that this will not pass among the colonists, even though the tension has been growing for quite a while. It's not like the King was actually doing these actions himself. These so called 'patriots' have practically labeled him of waging a war of terrorism against our peoples, all for wanting to tax us slightly higher for his own money! I mean, it's HIS MONEY! His PICTURE is on it!"
Thankfully, TV and radio hadn't come along yet. In the grand scheme of things, sometimes it's a good idea to put a document out there, and let people think about it for a bit before coming to a snap judgement. Happy 4th of July ... and keep on thinking about it.
(Bob Higgins is a regular contributor to The Portland Daily Sun. This is a classic column from last year.)