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101 of 6,095 quotations related to Free Speech, showing Adams to Wilde

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Adams, John Quincy
When people talk of the freedom of writing, speaking or thinking I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more.

Amiel, Barbara  
Of all the concepts that the totalitarian instinct of our times has bequeathed to society - including racial and gender job quotas and laws against free speech - the seemingly harmless slogan 'equal pay for work of equal value' is potentially the most destructive of a free society.

Aug. 5, 1985 - from a column in Maclean's Magazine
Angell, Norman
It is not the facts which guide the conduct of men, but their opinions about facts; which may be entirely wrong. We can only make them right by discussion.

Arendt, Hannah
Wherever the relevance of speech is at stake, matters become political by definition, for speech is what makes man a political being.

1958 - from The Human Condition
Baldwin, James
It is very nearly impossible... to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.

Bierce, Ambrose
Abnormal, adj. Not conforming to standard. In matters of thought and conduct, to be independent is to be abnormal.

1906 - from The Devil's Dictionary
Bissell, Claude T.  
It's ironical that the first people to demand free speech are the first people to deny it to others.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
Blum, Leon
The free man is he who does not fear to go to the end of his thought.

Bonaparte, Napoleon
Ten persons who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.

Bradbury, Ray
You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.

Bradlaugh, Charles
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.

Brandeis, Louis Dembitz
It is the function of free speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. ... discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine...

1927 - from Whitney v. California 274 U.S. 357
... the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies ... the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones.

1927 - from Whitney v. California 274 U.S. 357
Bruce, Tammy
The essential ingredients in the milieu of social change - freedom of expression and personal liberty - have suffered extraordinary damage in the name of "social equality" or "feminism" or "civil rights." Agendas cloaked in these respected labels of have turned people away from the heart of these ideals and, in some cases, actually reversed social progress for everyone, including women, people of color, and others...

2001 - from The New Thought Police
There is a method to the madness of those who have chosen to protect us from ourselves. Nothing in the theory of feminism or civil rights requires people to stop thinking their own thoughts. On the contrary, civil rights are reliant on individual freedom. The spiral down and away from individual liberty can be traced directly to the rejection of the rights of one for the rights of the many. This group-rights mentality is nothing new; it is steeped in the "progressive" concept that the individual must submit to what is best for everyone else. This idea stems not from the ideal of civil rights but from the well of socialism, the foundational model of the far Left. Once we accept group theory, it not only becomes easier to reject individual rights (like freedom of expression) but actually becomes essential that we do so.

2001 - from The New Thought Police
Buckley, William F.
Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.

Cardozo, Benjamin Nathan
Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.

1937 - from Palko v. Connecticut 302 U.S. 319, 327
Chesterton, Gilbert K.
The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.

1901 - from A Defense of the Humilities, The Defendant
Chomsky, Noam
If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.

Coyne, Andrew  
The thing to remember about any Supreme Court ruling upholding freedom of speech is that the Supreme Court does not actually believe in freedom of speech. It believes in some freedom for some speech.

Dec. 18, 2000 - from "Some freedom for some speech", published in the National Post

D'Souza, Dinesh
Does contemporary liberalism have a future? No. Many white liberals are so embarrassed by low levels of academic performance and high levels of criminal and antisocial behavior by blacks that they are destroying [classically] liberal institutions such as free speech, race neutrality, the legal presumption of innocence, and equal rights under the law in order to compel equal results for racial groups.

1995 - from The End of Racism, New York : Free Press
It's ... interesting to note that the women's studies and black studies departments, which were originally set up to fight the intolerance of traditional academic departments, are now among the most intolerant places on campus.

Jan. 1995 - from "Forbidden Thoughts", a discussion published in American Enterprise by the American Enterprise Institute
Darwin, Charles
The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.

1871 - from The Descent of Man
Diefenbaker, John George  
You cannot deny an individual the right to think as he will. The offence is not in being wrong, the offence is in doing wrong.

Oct. 16, 1970 - from a speech in the Canadian Parliament
Freedom includes the right to say what others may object to and resent. ... The essence of citizenship is to be tolerant of strong and provocative words.

Apr. 9, 1970 - Hansard, Canadian Parliament
Dixon, Kathleen
 [Rejecting colleague Richard Zeller's proposal to teach a course on political correctness] We forbid any course that says we restrict free speech.

Sep. 28, 2000 - quoted by Larry Elder in "The politically incorrect professor"
Douglas, William Orville
The function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it invites a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.

Restrictions of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions.

Douglass, Frederick
Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one's thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, founded in injustice and wrong, are sure to tremble, if men are allowed to reason...

1860 - from a speech delivered in Boston
Dworkin, Ronald
'Balanced' is code for 'denied': a right to free speech that must be 'balanced' against so exhaustive a list of other supposed values means a right that can be exercised only when those in power judge that the speech in question is innocuous to them.

1997 - from his essay "Forked tongues, faked doctrines" published in Index on Censorship, March 1997

Eisenhower, Dwight D.
Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.

May 31, 1954 - from a speech
Eliot, George
Human beliefs, like all other natural growths, elude the barrier of systems.

Franklin, Benjamin
In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own... Who ever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.

Frum, David  
... it is social liberals, not social conservatives, who nowadays fine, blacklist, and even threaten to jail businessmen, broadcasters and mayors who dissent from their dogmas...

May 27, 2000 - from "The race to define defines politics", published in the National Post
Gephardt, Richard
 What we have is two important values in direct conflict: freedom of speech and our desire for healthy campaigns in a healthy democracy.

supporting restrictions on free expression during political campaigns, quoted in "Memo to First Amendment: Look Out!", by George Will, Creators Syndicate Inc.
Gibbon, Edward
... the appellation of hereties has always been applied to the less numerous party.

1788 - from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Goldstein, Moritz
We can easily reduce our detractors to absurdity and show them their hostility is groundless. But what does this prove? That their hatred is real. When every slander has been rebutted, every misconception cleared up, every false opinion about us overcome, intolerance itself will remain finally irrefutable.

1912 - from his essay "The German-Jewish Parnassus"
Greeley, Horace
There is no bigotry like that of 'free thought' run to seed.

Greene, Graham
Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought.

Griswold, Alfred Whitney
Liberal learning is both a safeguard against false ideas of freedom and a source of true ones.

quoted by John F. Kennedy in a speech at Yale University, Jun. 11, 1962

Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education.

from Essays on Education
Hand, Learned
That community is already in the process of dissolution where each man begins to eye his neighbor as a possible enemy, where non-conformity with the accepted creed, political as well as religious, is a mark of disaffection; where dununciation, without specification or backing, takes the place of evidence; where orthodoxy chokes freedom of dissent; where faith in the eventual supremacy of reason has become so timid that we dare not enter our convictions in the open lists, to win or lose.

Havel, Vaclav
You do not become a "dissident" just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.

Hightower, Cullen
Saying what we think gives us a wider conversational range than saying what we know.

Hoffer, Eric
The beginning of thought is in disagreement - not only with others but also with ourselves.

Humphrey, Hubert H.
If there is dissatisfaction with the status quo, good. If there is ferment, so much the better. If there is restlessness, I am pleased. Then let there be ideas, and hard thought, and hard work.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.

Aug. 23, 1965 - from a speech in Madison, Wisconsin
Hyde, Henry
Free speech is meaningless unless it tolerates the speech we hate.

Jackson, Robert H.
The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities ... One's right to life, liberty and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly and other fundamental rights... depend on the outcome of no elections.

1943 - from the decision in the flag salute case
Jefferson, Thomas
Let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.

Mar. 4, 1801 - from his first Inaugural Address

Information is the currency of democracy.

Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education & free discussion are the antidotes of both.

Aug. 1, 1816 - from a letter to John Adams
Jukes, Steven
 We all know that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word 'terrorist'... We're trying to treat everyone on a level playing field...

Sept. 27, 2001 - from a directive to Reuters staff and an interview about it, after the World Trade Center attacks, quoted by John O'Sullivan in "Call them what they are - terrorists" published in the National Post
Kelley, David
Bright lights cast dark shadows when shone from only one direction.

Kelly, Grace
The freedom of the press works in such a way that there is not much freedom from it.

Kennedy, Anthony
The First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is beside the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech.

Kennedy, John F.
We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

Apr. 27, 1961 - from an address to newspaper publishers
... the pursuit of knowledge itself implies a world where men are free to follow out the logic of their own ideas.

Mar. 23, 1962 - from a speech at the University of California - Berkeley
... a great university is always enlisted against the spread of illusion and on the side of reality.

Jun. 11, 1962 - from a speech at Yale University
Kilpatrick, James J.
[The politically correct movement is] an intellectual virus that has infected our institutions of higher learning. ... There is something fundamentally ridiculous in the new orthodoxy of the politically correct. In today's academic groves, words do somersaults. 'Diversity' means 'sameness.' Free speech carries a heavy cost... The academic dragoons of Newthink are in the saddle, booted and spurred. It will take a major effort to unseat them.

Feb. 01, 1991 - from his column

Kimball, Roger
Who has the guarantee of lifetime employment? Why do professors really need that? Is our culture so monolithic and has free speech been limited to such an extent that we have to worry about having tenure to protect free speech? ... That's the reason for tenure, and ... by some insidious process [it] has turned into an institution that has really required conformity -- intellectual conformity. It has not fostered diversity.

Aug. 12, 1990 - from an interview on Booknotes, a program on C-SPAN television
Klein, Ralph  
I believe in free speech as long as you say the right thing.

1997 - from a speech during his campaign for re-election
L'Heureux-Dubé, Claire  
 Under our society's democratic principles, individual freedoms such as expression are not absolute, but may be limited in consideration of a broader spectrum of rights, including equality and security of the person. [emphasis added]

Jan. 26, 2001 - from the dissenting opinion in R. v. Sharpe
Lippmann, Walter
Where all men think alike, no one thinks very much.

We must protect the right of our opponents to speak because we must hear what they have to say.

While the right to talk may be the beginning of freedom, the necessity of listening is what makes that right important.

MacArthur, Gen. Douglas
No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.

McKern, Leo
It is easy to believe in freedom of speech for those with whom we agree.

Mencken, Henry Louis
I believe there is a limit beyond which free speech cannot go, but it's a limit that's very seldom mentioned. It's the point where free speech begins to collide with the right to privacy. I don't think there are any other conditions to free speech. I've got a right to say and believe anything I please, but I haven't got a right to press it on anybody else ... Nobody's got a right to be a nuisance to his neighbors.

Mill, John Stuart
If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

1859 - from On Liberty

Truth emerges from the clash of adverse ideas.

That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

The real advantage which truth has, consists in this, that when an opinion is true, it may be extinguished once, twice, or many times, but in the course of ages there will generally be found persons to rediscover it, until some one of its reappearances falls on a time when from favorable circumstances it escapes persecution until it has made such head as to withstand all subsequent attempts to suppress it.

1859 - from On Liberty
If the teachers of mankind are to be cognisant of all that they ought to know, everything must be free to be written and published without restraint. If, however, the mischievous operation of the absence of free discussion, when the received opinions are true, were confined to leaving men ignorant of the grounds of those opinions, it might be thought that this, if an intellectual, is no moral evil, and does not affect the worth of the opinions, regarded in their influence on the character. The fact, however, is, that not only the grounds of the opinion are forgotten in the absence of discussion, but too often the meaning of the opinion itself.

1859 - from On Liberty
He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.

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.

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

Milton, John
Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.

1644 - from Areopagitica
Morley, John
You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.

Murray, Charles
The idea of intellectual freedom and a person's right to think and write whatever he wants is not a natural phenomenon in human history. It had to be developed and sustained by applying a lot of energy. So it is not so surprising that it collapsed once certain clear, bright lines began to be breached. We've witnessed the bridge point. ... When I arrived [at university in the 1960's] there was still an utter hegemony of the idea that the university is a sacred place where your obligation is to think and to write and you have freedom to do that. Once that ideal became contaminated with issues of social justice, the intellectual freedom principle quickly got lost. If it is not an absolute ideal, it is too obviously vulnerable to all sorts of emotional and very persuasive pleas, as in the 1960s. Intellectual freedom is a delicate plant.

Jan. 1995 - from "Forbidden Thoughts", a discussion published in American Enterprise by the American Enterprise Institute

National Post, The  
... the World Health Organization [is] essentially a United Nations of hospital bureaucrats ... [it has] unanimously directed the world's governments to put anti-smoking ads on cigarette packages ... The first and most obvious question is who will listen to the WHO? ... Many of the world's foreign ministers will likely be surprised to learn that their countries' advertising laws have been rewritten by delegates in a Swiss hotel. ... The trifle of free speech might not have stopped the WHO, but it might trip up the proposed advertising laws in a hundred domestic courts around the world.

Dec. 18, 2000 - from its editorial "WHO's in charge here?"
Norton, Eleanor
The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don't agree with.

Paine, Thomas
You will do me the justice to remember that I have always supported the right of every man to his opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right makes a slave of himself to present opinion because he precludes himself the right of changing it. The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason.

from The Age of Reason
Rand, Ayn
The right to agree with others is not a problem in any society; it is the right to disagree that is crucial. It is the institution of private property that protects and implements the right to disagree...

Rushdie, Salman
Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.

Russell, Bertrand
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

1951 - from A Liberal Decalogue
Sagan, Carl Edward
Where skeptical observation and discussion are suppressed, the truth is hidden.

1978 - from Broca's Brain
Sakharov, Andrei D.
Intellectual freedom is essential to human society. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships.

1968 - from "Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom"
Scalia, Antonin
The virtue of a democratic system with a [constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech] is that it readily enables the people, over time, to be persuaded that what they took for granted is not so, and to change their laws accordingly. That system is destroyed if the smug assurances of each age are removed from the democratic process and written into the Constitution. ... [L]et me say a word in ... praise [of our ancestors]: they left us free to change. The same cannot be said of this most illiberal [Supreme] Court, which has embarked on a course of inscribing one after another of the current preferences of the society (and in some cases only the counter majoritarian preferences of the society's law trained elite) into our Basic Law.

Jun. 26, 1996 - from his dissenting opinion in United States vs Virginia
Sevareid, Eric
The bigger the information media, the less courage and freedom they allow. Bigness means weakness.


Small, William J.
As Hitler showed us, a press suppressed does not make a recovery. As Lenin indicated, a press controlled does not revert to a critic's role. As history reminds us, free speech surrendered is rarely recovered.

1972 - from his book Political Power and the Press
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander
Patriotism means unqualified and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins, and penitence for them.

from From Under the Rubble
Stevenson, Adlai
The sound of tireless voices is the price we pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions.

Twain, Mark
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.

1897 - from Following the Equator
Vidal, Gore
For the average American freedom of speech is simply the freedom to repeat what everyone else is saying and no more.

Wallace, Jonathan
[The judgement against operators of the anti-abortion Web site The Nuremberg Files] The verdict ... acutely illustrates the way society blurs the distinction between morality and legality. Not everything which we find shockingly immoral is, or should be, illegal. In the case of a decision assigning liability for pure speech -- for that is all a web page is -- more consideration should have been given to the goals of the first amendment, and the precedents already established in free speech law.

Feb. 15, 1999 - from "Anti-abortion web site shut down in civil suit", published in The Ethical Spectacle
Warren, Earl
All political ideas cannot and should not be channeled into the programs of our two major parties. History has amply proved the virtue of political activity by minority, dissident groups, who innumerable times have been the vanguard of democratic thought and whose programs were ultimately accepted.

1957 - from Sweezey vs New Hampshire
Whittier, John Greenleaf
The tale is one of an evil time, / When souls were fettered and thought was crime, / And heresy's whisper above its breath / Meant shameful scourging and bonds and death!

from "How the Women Went from Dover", a poem about persecution of Quakers
I trace your lines of argument; / Your logic linked and strong / I weigh as one who dreads dissent, / And fears a doubt as wrong. / But still my human hands are weak / to hold your iron creeds; / Against the words ye bid me speak / My heart within me pleads.

from "Revelation"
Wilde, Oscar
An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.

1888 - from The Critic as Artist