OF THE WORLD UNITE
Life often isn't fair, but I have had it. I watched with horror the Mickey Mouse events of the past few weeks centering on Ted Koppel and ABC. It seems that entertainment is attempting to replace journalism on the airwaves of America. In response to this attack, journalists from across the spectrum have come to the aid of Koppel and company. As a result, Ted has a new lease on life. In fact, he has taken a page from Vince Lombardi's playbook. He is going on the offensive and is pushing for the doubling of Nightline's airtime. You go, Ted.
However, this triumph has not stopped other attempts at stifling the voice of the journalist. The target has simply moved to another...me. That's correct; I am the target now. It isn't ABC that is trying to sweep me under the carpet; it is the British government. One would have thought that the American Revolution and the War of 1812 would have put those bloody Limeys in their place once and for all. Not so.
One of the central reasons that we aren't still a British colony today was their attempts to tax Americans and to deny them freedom of speech. The Brits started taxing the colonies with the Sugar, Quartering, and Stamp Taxes. Finally, with the passing of the Tea Tax in 1773, our forebears had had it with the taxes. Those brave colonists exercised their right to free speech, went out, and had a party in the Boston harbor.
Well, the British haven't yet learned about taxes and freedom of speech. While planning my trip to the South Pacific, a trip about which I have dreamt for nearly a half century, I was gathering research about Pitcairn Island. I have wanted to visit Pitcairn since reading about it in Mutiny on the Bounty while in school. The other day, I came across an item while surfing the Internet that stated that one needed to get permission from the British government to go to Pitcairn Island. At first blush, that didn't seem out of line. I needed visas for Tibet, Nepal, and India last summer. I quickly e-mailed the appropriate office stating that I wish to do research for some upcoming articles about Pitcairn and the Bounty. In less time than it took to depose Captain Bligh and seize the Bounty, I received a reply from the Commissioner for Pitcairn, Mr. Leon Salt. Shock and outrage were my responses to reading his e-mail. For me to visit Pitcairn Island, I need a license to land, a questionnaire filled out, two character references, and purpose for my writing about Pitcairn.
After completing the paperwork, I am to send it off to Mr. Salt (I bet his staff calls him "Old Salt"). That isn't the end of the red tape. He will transfer my request to the Island Council on Pitcairn for their consideration. If they approve my request, then I must forward them $1000 because I am a journalist. What? A journalism tax? Yes, the British Crown is back taxing Americans and denying freedom of the press. When will they ever learn?
Her Majesty's Commissioner, Mr. Salt, explained the tax by saying, "Pitcairners feel that they have frequently been misrepresented by the media and as a result will not approve visits by journalists without obtaining clear background to the individual and their previous publications or articles." Well, there is something fishy about this. A thousand dollar tax to visit a diminutive island with approximately fifty inhabitants sound steep to someone with Scottish blood boiling inside me. Haven't those English learned that taxing only causes trouble?
Therefore, the call goes out to journalists around the world. I need your help to put an end to the unfair taxation upon journalists and press censorship. My revolt starts today. I'm going to write to Rush Limbaugh on the right and the rest of the media on the left to get them to support my attempt to get to Pitcairn. For me, it is a matter of principle. If world journalists unite behind my attempt to fulfill a lifetime dream to retrace the travels of Fletcher Christian, this can be ended peacefully and without Bounty Bay tax party. Fletcher Christian must be turning over in his grave. The same British government that permitted captains like Bligh in the Royal Navy isn't allowing me to pay homage to one that fought against those injustices.
The ABC-Koppel broadcast news brouhaha has finally been resolved. Now, we need to marshal the troops behind my journalistic jousting with the juggernaut of the British government. And besides, why does Britain still have a colony in the Pacific? I bet that Princess Di would have come to my support.