The Artifex: Virtue for a Vigilant America
Saam Niami Jalinous
In 1644, England was at the height of its Civil War. The conflict involved the King of the British Isles, Charles I, and his Parliament. The Protestants that legislated his kingdom refused to allow Charles to raise his own army, which divided the country between those loyal to King Charles, and those in passionate support of the Protestant Parliament. One vocal and renowned supporter of the Protestant Parliament was a man named John Milton, famed for his religious epic, Paradise Lost. A story of man, God, and His champion. But more importantly it was a justification for evil, the harbinger of knowledge to God’s young enterprise of Earth.
Paradise Lost was inspired by a little known essay that Milton wrote as a protest against the government he supported: Areopagitica; A Speech of Mr. John Milton for Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parlament of England, also known as Areopagitica.
After the rebel government enacted the Licensing Order of 1643, which required authors to receive a Parliament approved license before publication, Milton began to question the government he so adamantly supported. The Order was aimed to silence any contrarian publications to the new English rule of law, in an effort to stabilize the political scene. The Order, as Milton describes in Areopagitica, puts dangerous limitations on the expanse of knowledge. To Milton, it would become impossible to understand what texts are prosperous and beneficial to human nature if there were no dangerous texts to compare them to. If harmful books did not exist, virtuous books would be unrecognizable. Freedom of speech is not only for the sake of liberty in expression, but also for the sake of creating a universal rule of fairness in discussion and ideas.
Areopagitica went on to become one of the most recognizable and cited arguments in favor for the freedom of speech and ideas, and it inspired me to become a journalist. The idea that speech is not only a born right, but a necessary foundation for the clash of ideas in an effort to create an unstoppable evolution in society, should be the foundation for every honest publication. It is, in fact, what The Artifex was founded on. Deadlines, viewership, and recognition are second priority. Fair, responsible, and inclusive journalism is the premiere tier in our mission.
Our world has descended into suspicion and paranoia against fact and free discussion. The leader of the free world has declared the press “the enemy of the people”, and in every which way, journalism has become undermined and ridiculed by those which it holds responsible. Evil has descended onto our free realm, and good must triumph now more than ever. Without responsible thought, dangerous minds will spread dangerous thoughts. It is the responsibility of those who have been blessed with education and the privilege to live as their own to act as a safeguard against poisonous and anti-democratic rhetoric. The Artifex is not just a project amongst students; it is the platform to which we Americans may best pledge our willingness to look power in the eye and scream that bridges are stronger than walls. We will not fail and falter. We will do our duty. We will preserve our America.