The following is my fond reflection of the time I met with Benjamin Franklin. Some of the events might have become cloudy as this meeting took place long ago.

Me: My phone is ringing. It’s from a 215 area code. That’s an oldie, maybe I should answer it. Hello, this is Thom!

Ben Franklin (BF): Hello Thom, this is Ben Franklin. May I call you Thom?

Me: Yes, I insist. What do I owe this honor, Mr. Franklin?

BF: Please call me Ben.

BF: You might be aware I am a member of the Pennsylvania Delegation of the Constitutional Convention. In two weeks I will be meeting with the Delegation and will be discussing the proposed Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights are broad and sweeping. The Delegation is wondering if certain restrictions or limitations should be considered under certain circumstances.

Me: How can I help?

BF: Can you meet me next week at The City Tavern in Philadelphia to discuss what your town leaders think? We can have a relaxing conversation over a frothy mug of ale.

Me: It will be my honor and pleasure, sir. I will see you next week.

One week later…

Me: This is my first visit to The City Tavern. It’s as lovely as I’ve heard.

BF: This place will last forever!

Me: Hmmmmmmm.

BF: Waiter, two mugs of ale for my friend and me!

Me: Tasty!

BF: Have you spoken with your town leaders about possible restrictions to the Bill of Rights?

Me: Yes, I have. It seems there is a restriction our leaders would consider.

BF: Go on.

Me: Well, Ben, it seems they might want to restrict public speech at all public meetings.

BF: There must be a good reason for this. Go on.

Me: Yes, there’s a very good reason. Our town leaders meet on Wednesday evenings. They want to get home in time to watch The Conners & Abbott Elementary on TV.

BF: What’s a TV?

Me: It’s an entertainment box. It’ll catch on.

Me: We’re just waiting for someone to invent electricity in case you know anyone.

BF: Waiter, another round!

BF: So, they would like to set forth guidelines & best practices for streamlining their meetings?

Me: Not exactly. They want to pass a law that restricts public speech.

BF: How do they plan on enforcing this law?

Me: I’m sure they have not considered this at all. I assume they would arrest the violator and have them appear in front of the Magistrate. If the Magistrate finds them guilty, they would be sentenced accordingly.

BF: What would the punishment be?

Me: I don’t know. Maybe a fine. Maybe jail time. Maybe both. Maybe just a public tongue-lashing. Who knows.

BF: What will happen to repeat offenders?

Me: Ben, this is all new. I’m really unsure if they have thought this all the way through.

BF: What is your role in this matter?

Me: Well, I have been trying to keep the public informed by posting on our website.

BF: What’s a website?

Me: It’s an entertainment box. It’ll catch on.

BF: Who came up with this idea to restrict public speech?

Me: Our township’s lawyer.

BF: You know what my dear friend Will Shakespeare once said about lawyers?

Me: I’ll google it.

BF: What’s a google?

Me: It’s an entertainment box. It’ll catch on.

BF: Waiter, another round!

Me: Will you relay our town’s plan to the Delegation when you meet next week?

BF: I will surely give it consideration and will get back to you with our findings.

Me: That would be great. I can’t tell you how thankful I am.

BF: Well, Thomas, the hour is getting late. I must bid you farewell!

Me: I think I might have had one frothy mug of ale too many. I’m not sure if I should be driving my horse all the way back home.

BF: No worries. I’ll call you a Huber.

Me: What’s a Huber?

BF: It’s a Horse-drawn Uber. It’ll catch on.


  1. Myron Goldman says

    Very clever and entertaining. The issue is serious. Any limitations on speech should reflect community input.

  2. Thom Estilow says

    Thank you for your observation, Myron. This is very important. At the meeting where this issue was raised, there were ZERO Cheltenham citizens who agreed with this initiative. This is not political, although it will be framed as such. Nearly 100% of the conscientious objectors were members of the political party currently in power. It was beautiful watching democracy in action. Our leaders were steadfast in supporting this initiative. Ultimately, they had no choice but to acknowledge the public’s desires. We will see how this progresses. I am looking forward to seeing you soon!

  3. Jim Conklin says

    Outstanding recall Thom! Can we advocate for public flogging for the Township attorney? Let’s test the practice on the commissioners and the very deserving school Board first! Perhaps some long overdue financial accountability will ensue.

Please subscribe to our site

Enter your email address to subscribe,