Centennial Review, February 2012 ▪ 3
degenerating into a free-for-all. And while simple games would be intolerable if played this way, the consequences
for the many deadly-serious things humans engage in—
from driving on the highways to waging war—would betoo frightful to imagine.
The trend of our time is an erosion of any consensus
about what government is supposed to do. This was notso in Jefferson and Madison’s day. The rule books atthat time were America’s founding documents, namely the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,including the Bill of Rights. In the spirit of those great
works, most Americans shared a common view of “the
sum of good government”—theprotection of life and property.
Today, far too many peoplethink that government exists
to do anything for anybody at
any time they ask for it, from
children’s day care to handouts for artists. In the 19th
century, Americans appreciated the concept of individual
rights and entertained little of this nonsense. But there
is no consensus in the 21st century even on what a right
is, let alone which ones free citizens have. The truth thatindividuals possess certain rights—denable, inalienable,and sacred—has been distorted beyond anything our early presidents would recognize.
Rights and Wrongs
When the Founders asserted rights to freedom of speech,freedom of the press, or freedom of assembly, they did
not mean that one may demand a microphone, a printer,
or an auditorium at someone else’s expense. Their concept
of rights called for no initiation of force against others,
no elevation of any “want” to a lawful lien on the life orproperty of others.Each individual was deemed a unique and sovereignbeing, who required only that other citizens deal with himhonestly and voluntarily. This is the
notion of rights
that does not produce an unruly mob in which each personhas his hands in someone else’s pocket. Vigilance againstsuch abuses is what prompted early Americans to add aBill of Rights to a Constitution that already contained aseparation of government powers, checks and balances,and numerous “thou-shalt-nots” directed at governmentitself.
They knew—unlike tens of millions of Americanstoday—that a government that lacks narrow rules and
strict boundaries, that robs Peter to pay Paul, that confusesrights with wants, will yield nancial ruin at best andpolitical tyranny at worst.Nearly all of our presidents prior to the 20th century were faithfully constrained by this view of the federal
‘NEWS21’ PROJECT SEEKSINTEGRITY IN JOURNALISM
Are integrity and independence still possible in journalismtoday? News21, the Project on News in the 21st Century,aims to prove they are.It launched in August 2011 with an academic courserequired for Colorado Christian University sophomoresand an outreach component through Centennial Institute.
of the Media ResearchCenter headlined an all-day conferenceon Dec. 2, on the topic “Have the MediaFailed America?” Prof. Chris Leland
teaches the academic course, with help
from adjunct faculty members Stephen
Keating, formerly of the
Jay Ambrose, formerly of the
Rocky Mountain News
comments: “‘Beseekers of truth’ is one of the CCUstrategic objectives. Yet today we see the
news media losing their way, fractured
by technology and awash in red ink.Students preparing to enter any eld— including business, ministry, or the mediaitself—will become better citizens by understanding how news is produced, disseminated, and consumed.”
adds: “News is an all-encompassing force no one can escape,
and that no citizen should try to escape. Without it, there would be a darknessthat could endanger self-governance.“Yet news can be inaccurate, factually correct but misleading, sensational,cheapening, and negligent. Citizens need to become
skeptical, discerning readers and viewers—alert to detect
bias when they see it, careful to offset hidden opinion by seeking out counter-opinions.”
, syndicated columnist and
Fox News contributor, will keynote thenext News21 conference. The date is March 2. The topic is “MediaFairness in the 2012 Campaign.”
For details see
Voices of CCU
Why robPeter to payPaul?