“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”
– Benjamin Franklin
In the PC culture of the 21st century, practically any sentence one might form contains an error ranging from offensive to uneducated. American society lives in terror of the “wrong.” People would rather ignore relevant issues like racial tension and ethical tax policy than form their own well thought opinion with a substantive argument. Not even presidential debates escape the art of distraction and disillusionment. The consequence of America’s insecurities: an engrained belief that the best way to gain the respect of fellow citizens involves thinking and acting just like them. For many, being accepted is the end all be all, even above personal progress.
Benjamin Franklin would have laughed at our inability to print anything substantial in the lifebooks that we show other people. Unlike the average American, Franklin expressed his opinion often without regard to 1700s PC culture. In fact, Franklin often embraced the unpuritanical for the sake of a good laugh. Although not given into drunkenness himself, Benjamin Franklin published The Drinkers Dictionary in 1736 detailing the common slang for the trashed, smashed, and wasted. Franklin even went so far as to publish a fictitious account of a Mont Holly witch trial that sent the town gossips and staunch puritans into a frenzy. Although his riling hoaxes walked the line of ethically questionable, Benjamin Franklin embraced his childish identity in a healthy way. Ben didn’t stop himself from publishing an argument based article about flatulence simply because Philadelphian culture considered it crass.
Expanding his means of expression beyond the cultural limitations allowed Benjamin Franklin to think outside the box. He did not just see the potential to fix existing institutions but could also see the potential for new ones. Benjamin Franklin dreamed beyond 1700s Philadelphia into the future, one that included a centralized mail system to efficiently communicate between parties and a rental library that contained a broadened collection of books. He had this ability to see beyond the present reality because he did not let his 18th century PC culture encourage silence for anything beyond mainstream beliefs. Progress only arises when one rejects the present situation and Benjamin Franklin did just that.