Snowden and "Turnkey Tyranny": A Reference to an 1819 Political Article?
With the Edward Snowden affair exploding onto the news today, along with his 12-minute video interview, comes a new phrase that attracted the attention of some viewers who have been retweeting it: "turnkey tyranny".
Turns out that phrase was used nearly 200 years ago, in a political magazine, The Cap of Liberty published in London. Copies of it are available in Google Play for free. You can also find it searching Google Books.
A few lines of the article stand out:
But we are weary of combating absurdities, and will therefore turn from the subject of religious fanaticism, to one which requires the energy of every patriot in the nation to counteract its dangerous effects. Despotism, in every form and shape, is assailing us---Public Meetings are to be forcibly dispersed by the sword---the Liberty of the Press, which has been attacked by the Attorney-General, must now have to combat with a phalanx of M.P.'s, within the walls of St. Stephen's.
It is now become the duty of every man to rally round the banner of his Country's independence, and swear that with it he will either stand or fall. . . . . It is the duty of a patriot to brave death in every shape, to render a service to his Country; and surely no Country in the world stands at this moment in so much need of the assistance of her children as does England . . .
Here is the page that mentions that phrase:
It's from an article regarding the fact that someone was returning the bones of none other than the late Thomas Paine from the United States to England. Paine had been born in England.
Occam's Razor would say, and I would agree, that this is just an odd historical coincidence. But it is remarkable that a whistleblower might use a phrase that happened to be printed in a political tract from nearly 200 years ago regarding Thomas Paine, attacks on first amendment rights, and patriotic duty.
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