If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
Tag Archives: first amendment
‘What a fuss about an omelette!‘ he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that!
‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ was his attitude now.
The citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth’s political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal, he is a traitor.
That he may be the only one who thinks he sees this decay, does not excuse him: it is his duty to agitate anyway, and it is the duty of others to vote him down if they do not see the matter as he does.
The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants.
He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.
Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
— Theodore Roosevelt, “Sedition, Free Press, and Personal Rule“, Kansas City Star (05-07-1918)
And what did it replace in the historical scene? It replaced actual violence.
Words are supposed to be free so we CAN actually fight things out, in the battleplace of ideas, so we don’t end up fighting them out in civil wars.
If we try to legitimately ban anything can hurt someone’s feelings, everyone is reduced to silence.
The whole principle is wrong. It’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t have steak.
— Robert Heinlein, The Man Who Sold the Moon (1949), on censorship