Freedom of speech is the bedrock principle upon which all other personal freedoms rest. Without free speech we are not free at all. The picture above is a banner that hangs at the front of my classroom. Can free speech go too far? Should we ban "hate speech?" What if someone you despise is the politician in charge (or group of politicians in charge) and they get to decide what constitutes hate speech? Could you be locked up for criticizing the way they govern our society? Therefore, so-called hate speech should never be banned. What is the best solution to terrible speech? More and more free speech. Because, in the end, the good ideas will win over the bad ideas if everyone can speak freely. The key indicator of an authoritarian personality is the desire to censor speech.
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate - Harpers Magazine July 7, 2020 - Signed by 153 Liberal Thinkers
8 Notes on Free Speech by Recognized Figures(this list was collected by Lawrence W. Reed):
- Milton: 'Above All Liberties'
"Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties." - John Milton, in Areopagitica
- Frederick Douglass: 'The Dread of Tyrants'
"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 of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment to come in their presence. Slavery cannot tolerate free speech." - Frederick Douglass, in his Plea for Free Speech in Boston
- Orwell: 'If Liberty Means Anything...'
- Einstein: 'A Spirit of Tolerance'
"Laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression; in order that every man may present his views without penalty, there must be a spirit of tolerance in the entire population." - Albert Einstein, in Ideas and Opinions
- George Washington's Warning
"If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." - George Washington, to Officers of the Army
- Mill on 'Extreme' Speech
"Strange it is that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free speech but object to their being 'pushed to an extreme,' not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case." - John Stuart Mill, in On Liberty
- Justice Douglass: The Most Dangerous Subversion
"Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us." - Justice William O. Douglass, in The One Un-American Act
- Trenchard and Gordon: No Wisdom Without Free Thought
"Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech; which is the right of every man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or control the right of another. And this is the only check it ought to suffer, and the only bounds it ought to know. This sacred privilege is essential to free governments, that the security of property, and the freedom of speech always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation, must begin by subduing the freeness of speech." - John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon in Cato’s Letters
The Following Picture Shows a Quote by Billionaire Jimmy Lai of Hong Kong