Quote of the Day – Liberty and Free Speech

 

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.  – Frederick Douglass

This is as true today as it was  when Douglass first spoke these words at an 1860 speech in Boston. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which among other things guarantees freedom of speech, is virtually unique among the nations of the world. Only it guarantees free speech as an absolute right. Virtually every other nation with a “free speech” clause in its written or unwritten constitution hedges that right with weasel words abridging the right under certain conditions.

Even in this country freedom of speech is under assault. Universities behave as if there is a “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment (there isn’t), as if free speech can be limited to approved zones. Administrators of our public schools ignore Tinker vs Des Moines. Major corporations at the behest of the Federal Government censor opinions contrary to those desired by the government. (For private property enthusiasts, the rights of businesses to restrict speech is not unlimited, if the privately-owned space serves as a public forum. When working in collusion with a government, it becomes still more limited, since they are acting as an agent of the government.)

Rights not defended are easily lost. Push back aggressively against any efforts to limit your right to utter your thoughts and opinions. Do so wherever and whenever you can. Do so even when it is inconvenient. Take legal action when necessary. Do not allow yourself to be silenced.

Free speech is the most precious of all rights, because it is the only way one can peaceably rally others to a cause or to persuade others of the errors in their beliefs.  If one is forced to abandon the soap box, the ballot box and the jury box will also soon be lost. The only redress may lay in the cartridge box. Opening that opens a Pandora’s Box of other troubles. It should be saved as an absolute last resort.

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  1. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    I’m following whether Mark Steyn’s push back against Michael Mann will have any effect. When the Mann v Steyn defamation case can be dragged out for 12 years, and Donald Trump is ordered to pay $83 million for defaming E. Jean Carroll (whereas she can say any reputation-damaging thing she wants about Trump without consequence), the state of free speech in America is not looking good. And those are only high-profile examples of how the legal system can chill free speech. We can’t really quantify the impact on millions of normal Americans who prefer to stay silent rather than be fired or subject to demoralizing re-education.

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    • #1
  2. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Lilly B (View Comment):
    We can’t really quantify the impact on millions of normal Americans who prefer to stay silent rather than be fired or subject to demoralizing re-education.

    As I said, if you don’t fight for a right, you lose it.  A saying of my Greek grandparents applies: “It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” The anti-free speech crowd is all about forcing others to live on their knees.  Let me again quote Churchill:

    “Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” – Winston Churchill

    That is where we are now. We can still win without bloodshed and at a price not to costly. But if too many stay silent for fear of being fired or being subject to re-education the cost of regaining our freedom will rise. Until the only option left is the cartridge box. At that point the price will be almost unthinkable.

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  3. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):
    We can’t really quantify the impact on millions of normal Americans who prefer to stay silent rather than be fired or subject to demoralizing re-education.

    As I said, if you don’t fight for a right, you lose it. A saying of my Greek grandparents applies: “It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” The anti-free speech crowd is all about forcing others to live on their knees. Let me again quote Churchill:

    “Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” – Winston Churchill

    That is where we are now. We can still win without bloodshed and at a price not to costly. But if too many stay silent for fear of being fired or being subject to re-education the cost of regaining our freedom will rise. Until the only option left is the cartridge box. At that point the price will be almost unthinkable.

    I completely agree. I often try to talk to friends about thorny issues in our current culture and find that unless they already agree with me, I get criticized for being impolite. It’s not that my behavior is impolite, but bringing up divisive topics at all, or rather responding when others bring them up, is itself problematic in an  otherwise friendly context. Since I am not usually debating on a public platform, with the exception of Ricochet where I am not doing so under my own name, I don’t know how to handle these situations. I suppose the cost is losing friends, and maybe that’s a price worth paying, but then we can only talk to others who are already on our side. It’s probably a whole post in itself, but it’s one that I struggle to write. 

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  4. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Seawriter: If one is forced to abandon the soap box, the ballot box and the jury box will also soon be lost. The only redress may lay in the cartridge box. Opening that opens a Pandora’s Box of other troubles.

    Nice little bit of writing. The sequence of boxes.

    • #4
  5. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Seawriter: If one is forced to abandon the soap box, the ballot box and the jury box will also soon be lost. The only redress may lay in the cartridge box. Opening that opens a Pandora’s Box of other troubles.

    Nice little bit of writing. The sequence of boxes.

    I didn’t invent the four boxes.  Douglass did.

    • #5
  6. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Seawriter: If one is forced to abandon the soap box, the ballot box and the jury box will also soon be lost. The only redress may lay in the cartridge box. Opening that opens a Pandora’s Box of other troubles.

    Nice little bit of writing. The sequence of boxes.

    I didn’t invent the four boxes. Douglass did.

    Ah, it does have the style of an old-time evangelist. Good mnemonics.

    • #6
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