Ben Franklin on offensive ads | Blogads

Ben Franklin on offensive ads

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, July 16th, 2003

Lee Barstow pointed me to Ben Franklin’s Apology for Printers, something Franklin wrote in 1731 after an advertisement he’d taken in his Pennsylvania Gazette offended some churchgoers. He wrote: “Being frequently censur’d and condemn’d by different Persons for printing Things which they say ought not to be printed, I have sometimes thought it might be necessary to make a standing Apology for my self….”

Franklin continues, “I request for all who are angry with me on the Account of printing things they don’t like, calmly to consider these following particulars: 1) That the opinions of men are almost as various as their faces… 5) … that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former almost always is an overmatch for the lattter: Hence [printers] chearfully serve all contending Writers that pay them well, without regarding on which side they are of the Question in Dispute.”

Finally, my favorite part: “That I got Five Shillings by [the ad]. That none who are angry with me would have given me so much to let it alone. That if all the People of different Opinions would engage to give me as much for not printing things they don’t like, as I can get by printing them, I should probably live a very easy Life; and if all Printers were every where so dealt by, there would be very little printed.” (Franklin’s essay linked from this page.)

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