Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Founders Day at Freedom, Inc.

I'm pretty sure it was Cathy Taylor's idea for Freedom Communications to mark R.C. Hoiles's birthday, Nov. 24, as Founders Day (though it might have come from somebody in corporate). I can't remember when we first did it -- 5-6 years ago? Anyway, we try to highlight some aspect of R.C.'s life and ideas, and their importance to the larger freedom movement (R.C. was never quite satisfied with the term "libertarian," though I suspect he would eventually have acquiesced to using it more often. He died in 1970, just as the modern libertarian movement was starting to define itself -- having libertarians kicked out of YAF in 1969 was a key moment, leading Don Ernsberger to found Students for Individual Liberty (SIL) and marking something of a divorce from the conservative movement.

Founders Day is whyI did the piece on R.C. for Sunday, and this editorial that ran today. The little pamphlet from which I extracted quotes (intro and transitions written by D.R. Segal, I'm pretty sure -- gee, he was a fun guy yet unquestionably sharp as an executive) said that if journalism were a person R.C. was its hair shirt.

This is a bittersweet Founders Day for us, and not just because of the sorry state of the newspaper business just now. Sometime early next year Freedom Inc., family-held for so long, will be officially owned by a consortium of banks, having emerged from Chapter 11. We don't expect they'll want to change editorial policies at the Register, but will hang onto properties that are at least modestly profitable until there's a decent market for them. But we don't know. I understand why "may you live in interesting times" is a Chinese curse. But I'll continue to interpret it as at least part blessing.

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