Bruce Bennett


In 1731, a young printer/publisher ran an advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette for a ship’s captain. The ad obliquely referred to the captain’s dislike of booking passage for clergy because they reminded him of loud birds. Several subscribers to the Gazette voiced their opposition to the paper’s running of such an ad. They threatened to cancel their subscriptions and encouraged others to do the same.

Who knew ‘cancel culture’ was already in vogue back in 1731? The young publisher’s name? Benjamin Franklin. His response? “Newspapers deal in opinion. If there are differences in opinions and all sides receive fair treatment, truth will overmatch error.” He also added “If a publisher were to print only what he believed to be true and not print what he didn’t believe, you would only be receiving one side of the issue.”

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