Freedom of speech
There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means—either may do—the result is the same and it is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to be easier.Benjamin Franklin
Freedom of speech is the concept of being able to speak freely without censorship. It is often regarded as an integral concept in modern liberal democracies.
- 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.
- I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it.
- After all, if freedom of speech means anything, it means a willingness to stand and let people say things with which we disagree, and which do weary us considerably.
- Zechariah Chafee; in Chafee (1920). Freedom of Speech, p. 366, Harcourt, Brace and Howe.
- Freedom isn’t free!
- Slogan which dates back at least to 1947.
- It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.
- Mark Twain Following the Equator
- We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
- "Do you ever read any of the books you burn?"
He laughed. "That's against the law!"
"Oh. Of course."
- Fuck you very much the FCC
For proving that free speech just isn't free
Clear Channel's a dear channel, so Howard Stern must go
Attorney General Ashcroft doesn't like strong words and so
He's charging twice as much as all the drugs for Rush Limbo
so Fuck you all so very much.
- Eric Idle, The FCC song
- "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing as S. G. Tallentyre in 1906 (commonly attributed to Voltaire, of whom Hall wrote a biography).
- "...if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility." John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859).
- "Aren't people absurd! They never use the freedoms they do have, but demand those they don't have; they have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech." Søren Kierkegaard, Diapsalmata, Either/Or (1843).
In support of free speech
- "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." - George Orwell, Preface to Animal Farm (1946)
- "Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're in favor of free speech, then you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you're not in favor of free speech." Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992).
- "I have fought censorship all of my adult life. To me, the most precious of all rights in this marvelous country called the United States of America is the freedom to think, write and say whatever is on your mind... That freedom also extends to thoughts that are stupid, ignorant or incendiary. No one needs a First Amendment to write about how cute newborn babies are or to publish a recipe for strawberry shortcake. Nobody needs a First Amendment for innocuous or popular points of view. That's point one. Point two is that the majority-you and I-must always protect the right of a minority-even a minority of one-to express the most outrageous and offensive ideas. Only then is total freedom of expression guaranteed." Lyle Stuart in his introduction to The Turner Diaries
- "The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish."
- "The principle of free thought is not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate." US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in United States v. Schwimmer (1929).
- "He wrote something stupid, a bunch of words that say something we don't agree with. It's only words and ideas, it's not like he beat someone up, he's not committing violence or hurting people, he's simply saying something offensive that we do not want to hear because we don't like it. If we suppress ideas we don't like, the proponents of those ideas will probably fester in secret societies and explode in double-plus ungood ways and we will like those results even less. If we allow people to see their ideas, and we ignore them, they've had their chance and they don't have to feel cheated about not getting exposure. Or if we really don't like their ideas and really need to keep them from convincing other people to believe in them, the answer is to tell people why and they'll learn. But you can't just beat people up because you dislike their stupid opinion. If we go that route, then anyone who is willing to use force can suppress any opinion they don't like, and maybe support opinions we don't like. Then what you get is a society of brutality where it isn't the best ideas that are seen by others, it's only the ideas that have the most vicious thugs to back them up. And it becomes very hard for people to be willing to express any opinion if someone can just pop them one because they say something someone else doesn't like." - Supervisor 246 in Paul Robinson's Instrument of God.
In support of specific limits
- "...When compared with the suppression of anarchy every other question sinks into insignificance. The anarchist is the enemy of humanity, the enemy of all mankind, and his is a deeper degree of criminality than any other. No immigrant is allowed to come to our shores if he is an anarchist; and no paper published here or abroad should be permitted circulation in this country if it propagates anarchist opinions." Theodore Roosevelt, 1908
- "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., 1919