Congress shall make
no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government
for a redress of grievances.
- First Amendment
to the United States Constitution
"The framers of the Constitution
knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they
also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny."
- Supreme Court Justice
Hugo Black (1960)
"If all mankind minus
one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing
that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing
- John Stuart Mill
Man did not enter this
society to be worse off than he was before, or to have fewer rights than
he had before, but to have those rights better secured. When it comes
to the right of the mind, he never surrenders it.
- Thomas Paine
A free society is a
place where it's safe to be unpopular.
- Adlai Stevenson
If you don't believe in
freedom of speech for speech you loathe, you don't believe in freedom of
speech at all. If, on the other hand, like far too many Canadians, you
only believe in freedom of speech for fluffy approved pieties, you better
be pretty sure that your nice approved speech will remain approved.
- Mark Steyn
"Everyone is entitled
to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."
- Senator Pat Moynihan
"My freedom of speech
implies your freedom to be offended."
"Every man has the
right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has the right
to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test."
- Samuel Johnson
It is an unfortunate
side-effect of the benefit of free speech that people tend to think that,
because things may be said, it does not matter if they are.
- Charles Moore, "The Telegraph"
"Culture is worth a
- Norman Mailer
We need freedom of
speech...so we can identify the idiots.
- T. N.
In a free country there
is much clamour with little suffering; in a despotic state there is little
complaint but much suffering.
If there be any among
us who would wish to dissolve this Union or change its republican form,
let them stand as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may
be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
- Thomas Jefferson
"Without free speech
no search for truth is possible... no discovery of truth is useful. Better
a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse
dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs
the hope of the race."
- Charles Bradlaugh
He who sets new limits
to the press puts shackles on the arms of liberty and makes one great stride
to her destruction.
- Edmund Burke
When people have no
other tyrant, their own public opinion becomes one.
- Edward Bulwer Lytton
"When a great truth once
gets abroad in the world, no power on earth can imprison it, or prescribe
its limits, or suppress it. It is bound to go on till it becomes the thought
of the world."
- Frederick Douglass
(1817-1895) Orator, abolitionist and former slave.
If we don't believe in
freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at
- Noam Chomsky
Those who climb soap boxes
to preach "tolerance" of all "lifestyles" are typically the most intolerant
of all. It is easy enough to prove: simply tell such preachers of intolerance
that you have an opposite opinion.
Intellectual freedom is
a possession conferring the ability to face up to uncomfortable truths,
for nations as for individuals.
- Roy Foster
The right to be heard
does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
- Hubert H. Humphrey
The whole principle is
wrong; it's like demanding that grown men live on skimmed milk because
the baby can't eat steak.
- Robert Heinlein
In Germany they came first
for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
They they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I
wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't
speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that
time no one was left to speak up.
- Martin Niemoeller
A library is a dangerous
place for those who enter with an open mind.
To silence criticism is
to silence freedom.
- New York Times Magazine,
September 30, 1951.
Alas, how many have been
persecuted for the wrong of having been right?
"In times when the government
imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also the prison."
- Henry David Thoreau
It is difficult to free
fools from the chains they revere.
"The most potent weapon
of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."
- Steve Biko
Society has come a long
way, before they would have burned me, now they are content with just burning
- Freud's reaction
to Nazi book burning
"Before quitting the subject
of freedom of expression, it is fit to take some notice of those who say,
that the free expression of all opinions should be permitted, on condition
that the manner be temperate, and do not pass the bounds of fair discussion.
Much might be said on the impossibility of fixing where these supposed
bounds are to be placed; for if the test be offence to those whose opinion
is attacked, I think experience testifies that this offence is given whenever
the attack is telling and powerful, and that every opponent who pushes
them hard, and whom they find it difficult to answer, appears to them,
if he shows any strong feeling on the subject, an intemperate opponent."
- John Stuart Mill, "On Liberty"
To purchase freedom
of thought with human blood and then delegate its exercise to a censor
at £400 a year us a procedding which must make the gods laugh.
- Frank Fowell, "Censorship in England" (1912)
"Personally, I'm no
fan of colleges firing professors for their idiotic views (who'd be left?);
or of activists launching boycott campaigns to kill off television shows
(like Dr Laura); or even patriotic attempts to actually fire (rather than
roast) some individuals on the government payroll because of their stupidity
or malevolence. But this is still not censorship. Censorship is when the
government forbids the expression of certain views, period. It is the punishment
of opinion by force. Everything else is the rough-and-tumble of public
debate, in which equal measures of glory and ignominy are part of the process.
If the public raises
an outcry about the unremitting left-wing bias of NPR, and forces it to
change its tune, it's still not censorship. If an editor fires a columnist
for endorsing the wrong presidential candidate, it's tough, but not censorship.
If the NEA is forced by public pressure not to fund a hedgehog-turd-on-a-rosary
as art, it's still not censorship. Losing your job is always tough. But
it's not censorship. I say: let's do all we can to ensure that people with
whom we disagree are exposed and criticized. Let debate ensue. But please:
no whining about censors."
- Andrew Sullivan
Their's not to make
- Alfred Lord Tennyson,
"The Charge of the Light Brigade"
Nothing in the Constitution
compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its
merit…The ancient concept that a man’s home is his castle into which not
even the king may enter has lost none of its vitality…We therefore categorically
reject the argument that a vendor has a right under the Constitution or
otherwise to send unwanted material into the home of another. If this prohibition
operates to impede the flow of even valid ideas, the answer is that no
one has a right to press even good ideas on an unwilling recipient. That
we are often captives outside the sanctuary of the home and subject to
objectionable speech and other sound does not mean we must be captives
everywhere…The asserted right of a mailer, we repeat, stops at the outer
boundary of every person’s domain.
Their's not to reason
Their's but to do
- U.S. Supreme Court: Rowan V US Post Office, 397 U.S. 728
"I am somewhat at a
loss to determine what this very respectable gentleman means by political
heresies. Does he consider this pamphlet of Mr. Paine's as a canonical
book of political scripture? As containing the true doctrine of popular
infallibility, from which it would be heretical to depart in one single
point? ...I have always understood, sir, that the citizens of these States
were possessed of a full and entire freedom of opinion upon all subjects
civil as well as religious; they have not yet established any infallible
criterion of orthodoxy, either in church or state ... and the only political
tenet which they could stigmatize with the name of heresy would be that
which should attempt to impose an opinion upon their understandings, upon
the single principle of authority."
- John Quincy Adams, response to Thomas Jefferson's use of phrase "political