Free speech quotes

February 28, 2010 at 10:18 pm (Uncategorized)


  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen. ~Tommy Smothers
  4. Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. ~Potter Stewart
  5. 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
  6. The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book. ~Walt Whitman
  7. Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire
  8. I am thankful for all the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech. ~Nancie J. Carmody
  9. 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
  10. Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. ~Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 24 February 1959
  11. 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
  12. A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom a press will never be anything but bad. ~Albert Camus
  13. To reject the word is to reject the human search. ~Max Lerner, 1953, on book purging
  14. Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them. ~Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935
  15. What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books. ~Sigmund Freud, 1933
  16. Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings. ~Heinrich Heine, Almansor, 1823
  17. Every burned book enlightens the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  18. The paper burns, but the words fly away. ~Akiba ben Joseph
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. Obscenity is not a quality inherent in a book or picture, but is solely and exclusively a contribution of the reading mind, and hence cannot be defined in terms of the qualities of a book or picture. ~Theodore Schroeder
  22. Assassination is the extreme form of censorship. ~George Bernard Shaw, “The Rejected Statement, Part I,” The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet, 1911
  23. I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it. ~Mae West
  24. Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself. ~Dick Cavett
  25. The test of democracy is freedom of criticism. ~David Ben-Gurion
  26. If all mankind minus one were of one 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. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
  27. To choose a good book, look in an inquisitor’s prohibited list. ~John Aikin
  28. To limit the press is to insult a nation; to prohibit reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves. ~Claude-Adrien Helvétius
  29. Censorship offends me. ~Author Unknown
  30. 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. ~John F. Kennedy
  31. God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide. ~Rebecca West
  32. If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. ~Noam Chomsky
  33. Take away the right to say “fuck” and you take away the right to say “fuck the government.” ~Lenny Bruce
  34. Every human being has a right to hear what other wise human beings have spoken to him. It is one of the Rights of Men; a very cruel injustice if you deny it to a man! ~Thomas Carlyle
  35. Books won’t stay banned – Ideas won’t go to jail.
  36. ~Alfred Whitney Griswold
  37. You can cage the singer but not the song. ~Harry Belafonte, in International Herald Tribune, 3 October 1988
  38. I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ~Voltaire
  39. The populist authoritarianism that is the downside of political correctness means that anyone, sometimes it seems like everyone, can proclaim their grief and have it acknowledged. The victim culture, every sufferer grasping for their own Holocaust, ensures that anyone who feels offended can call for moderation, for dilution, and in the end, as is all too often the case, for censorship. And censorship, that by-product of fear – stemming as it does not from some positive agenda, but from the desire to escape our own terrors and superstitions by imposing them on others – must surely be resisted. ~Jonathon Green, “Did You Say ‘Offensive?’,” as posted on

1 Comment

  1. joe said,

    fuck kill the guy if he was real. cut him deep so the pain i suffer he can feel.wheres the savior when bombs go off and lil kids get shot .and crackheads gettin served at the slangin spot. if you ask me jesus was a evil man givin false courage to us, saying if i can you surely can. all us non believers are going to hell because we dont bow down to somethin that aint real, you can kill,rape, steal, but if you repent youll be saved by the one god sent. i see the science and material but i dont see nothing spiritual, as if the clouds will open as a throne in the sky and the smiter will smite any evil individual who roles by. any believer email me tell me the divine message, im sure ive heard it a thousand times, all it is is a thousand lies backed up chapters verses and lines. you like

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