Editor’s Page

By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez

Only Nine  Little Words

we the people

 

Note: Given the results of the recent presidential election in the United States, and the current threat from some quarters to drastically curtail the freedom of the press and the right of free speech, the following true story might be instructional.

In 1734, in a small town outside New York City, the editor of a newspaper called The New York Weekly Journal was walking across the village square when he noticed a man who, having been severely flogged, was still out on public display, his arms bolted with wooden stocks. The editor, whose name was Zenger, asked the prisoner what his crime had been.

He had spoken out against the British Crown. The case had never gone to trial, yet the man had been severely punished. Outraged, the editor wrote an article about the matter, and was soon arrested himself. Left in jail for several weeks without adequate food and water, he became weak, dispirited and felt utterly abandoned by the time his case was finally scheduled for trial.

Zenger had more stalwart friends, however, than he thought, and one of them was the town’s most prominent attorney, a man named Alexander, who began to work on his behalf. Another was the editor’s wife, who continued to print his newspaper out of the cellar of their home. By the time the case came to trial, it had caught the attention of much of the rest of the American Colonies.

The matter seemed preordained. The judges, subservient to the Crown, had been bribed, and the jury was filled with people too uneducated to understand the issues. Justice, it seemed, was about to go on vacation.

The attorney, realizing his client might hang, rode hard for several days to Philadelphia, where he enlisted the aid of a man named Hamilton, reputed to be the finest lawyer in all of North America. Together, the two men hurried back to New York, arriving just as the trial was ending.

Striding into the courtroom as if he owned it, Hamilton immediately launched into one of the most inspired arguments for free speech that had ever been heard. With the spectators and even the jury finally bursting into cheers, a not-guilty verdict was hastily rendered.

Hamilton had sounded the first clarion call for the right of every citizen to voice his opinion about the government without fear of recrimination or retribution, be it from the King of England all the way down to the mayor of a small village. In time, that call would make it into the Constitution of the United States of America, and today it is part of what makes America the great nation that it is.

Congress shall not abridge the right of free speech. . .”

Those nine words would eventually alter the course of history.

alex grattan

 

ALEJANDRO GRATTAN-DOMINGUEZ

 

Column: Editor’s Page

 

Website:

 

Wrote/directed first movie about Mexican-Americans, Only Once in a Lifetime-- Recently purchased with another film of his, No Return Address, by Turner Classic Movies.  Lifetime premiered at the Kennedy Center in Wash., D.C. —1979. Awarded Governor’s (California) Commendation—1980.  Special Award of Appreciation from the National Association of Mexican-American Educators—1981. Wrote 23 film scripts, nine of which were either sold or optioned, some repeatedly.

Established Ajijic Writers Group in 1988. Wrote seven novels, three of which were at one time in 1400 libraries in the U.S., Canada, England and Ireland.  Best Screenplay Award—Mexican International Film Festival—1999.  Award of Appreciation from Ninos Incapacitados—2007. Biography appeared in Who’s Who in Mexico—2007. Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 —Lakeside Community Awards Committee. Winner of IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award in 2014 for historical novel The Dark Side of the Dream. Editor-in-Chief of El Ojo del Lago for past 25 years.

Grattan’s seven novels, as well as his collection of articles, short stories and film/ literary/political commentaries are all in the Local Author’s Section of the LCS Library.

The last motion picture Grattan wrote and directed, Only Once in a Lifetime, is now in the LCS Video Library.

 

Pin It
Editor’s Page By Victoria A. Schmidt July 2021 Editor’s Page June 2021 Editor’s Page May 2021 Editor’s Page April
Editor’s Page By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez A Life Well-Justified There is a line in the Bible (one of the very few that I can remember!) which
Editor’s Page Guest Editorial by Mark Sconce The Power of Poetry   Whilst knocking on doors for Barack a few years ago, I encountered a lady of
Editor’s Page Guest Editorial by Fred Mittag A Brief History of Work   For artisans, work was good during the Middle Ages. At 14, a boy might proudly
Editor’s Page By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez An Astounding Man in an Astounding Century   Most people know about T.E. Lawrence because of David
Wordwise With Pithy Wit By Tom Clarkson   This morning, my pal F.T. – who shared the Iraq experience with me during my third trek there – forwarded
  VICTORIA SCHMIDT   Column: Editor’s Page   Website:   Victoria Schmidt came to Mexico with her husband, in 2007. 
  ALEJANDRO GRATTAN-DOMINGUEZ   Column: Editor’s Page   Website:   Wrote/directed first movie about Mexican-Americans, Only
    MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING   Column: Profiling Tepehua   Website:   Settled in Mexico 13 years ago.  The
  KEN MASSON   Column: Bridge by the Lake   Website:   Ken Masson has been playing, teaching and writing about bridge
 Find us on Facebook