Falling out of love with freedom

The publication of the Leveson report into the conduct of the British press has set a million tongues wagging and gazillions of fingers tapping, including mine. And this is what they’re saying.

They’re telling me that I’m worried about the way Leveson has divided people over one of its most important issues: the freedom of the press.

Don’t get me wrong. I love newspapers.  Tattered Jack

I was seduced by them when I was a teenager in the 1950s, and I’ve gone on loving them across the decades that I’ve been writing advertising on the back of editorial.

Despite the fact that some are good and some are bad – that some sell millions and others handfuls – our newspapers’ freedom of speech never ceases to remind me of the wonderfully multi-faceted nature of our society.

Now, for one reason or another, some people are saying that freedom is likely to be undermined – even eroded – by obligations set out by Leveson and underpinned by law.

And this really worries them.

I have to say, it’s what worries them that really worries me.

Freedom feeds on responsibility

No matter how you look at it, freedom is a wonderful thing.

It’s definitely worth fighting for. Some even die for it. Others, like Kris Kristopherson, take a more sanguine view, saying it’s “just another word for nothing left to lose”.

For me it’s a vital ingredient in any civilised society.

But all freedoms have to be treated with respect.

We have to recognise that, if we are to embrace any kind of freedom, we have to acknowledge the responsibilities that come with it.

The people who worry about their loss of freedom due to obligations underpinned by statutory laws or regulatory bodies seem to be calling for a society in which anything – including some wicked activities that fall outside the law – will be accepted.

If that’s the kind of freedom people want, it’s not for me.

While I want a free press with the freedom to seek justice, defend the oppressed, champion the underprivileged and expose the wicked, I want to read newspapers that respect the responsibilities their freedom imposes.

If that respect dies, it won’t be long before my love of newspapers dies with it.

And I’ll find myself falling out of love with freedom.

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