Free Speech

Sunday, September 5, 2009 – Free Speech

Think twice before you speak, and then you may be able to say something more insulting than if you spoke right out at once. ~ Evan Esar

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. ~ H. P. Lovecraft

We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still. ~ John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion. ~ Henry Steele Commager

The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen. ~ Tommy Smothers

We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard. ~ Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique, 1764

The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book. ~ Walt Whitman

Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them. ~ Mark Twain

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books. ~ Sigmund Freud

Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings. ~ Heinrich Heine, Almansor, 1823

Every burned book enlightens the world. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The paper burns, but the words fly away. ~ Akiba ben Joseph

Did you ever hear anyone say, “That work had better be banned because I might read it and it might be very damaging to me?” ~ Joseph Henry Jackson

I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it. ~ Mae West

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. ~ John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

If you don’t have this freedom of the press, then all these little fellows are weaseling around and doing their monkey business and they never get caught. ~ Harold R. Medina

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. ~ Abbott Joseph Liebling, “Do You Belong in Journalism?” New Yorker, 4 May 1960

What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to. ~ Hansell B. Duckett

Free speech is too dangerous to a democracy to be permitted. ~ Henry Louis Mencken

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously. ~ Hubert H. Humphrey

Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify oppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. ~ Louis D. Brandeis

Free speech is not to be regulated like diseased cattle and impure butter. The audience that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance. ~ William O. Douglas

Everybody favors free speech in the slack moments when no axes are being ground. ~ Heywood C. Broun

We live in oppressive times. We have, as a nation, become our own thought police; but instead of calling the process by which we limit our expression of dissent and wonder “censorship,” we call it “concern for commercial viability.” ~ David Mamet

You have not converted a man because you have silenced him. ~ John Morley

We who officially value freedom of speech above life itself seem to have nothing to talk about but the weather. ~ Barbara Ehrenreich

We hear about constitutional rights, free speech and the free press. Every time I hear those words I say to myself, ”That man is a Red, that man is a Communist.” You never heard a real American talk in that manner. ~ Frank Hague

Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test. ~ Samuel Johnson

How absurd men are! They never use the liberties they have, they demand those they do not have. They have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech. ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both. ~ John Andrew Holmes

Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn. ~ George Bernard Shaw

Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer. ~ Muhammad Ali, “More Than a Hero”

A sudden silence in the middle of a conversation suddenly brings us back to essentials: it reveals how dearly we must pay for the invention of speech. ~ Emile M. Cioran