QOTD: Words Have Value

 

“Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. It is just as criminal to rob a man of his right to speak and hear as it would be to rob him of his money.”

—Frederick Douglass

What a contrast with the woke propagandist of today, terrified of hearing something that offends them.  Mr. Douglass realized the power of words to persuade people.  He didn’t have an army of abolitionist soldiers, or the power of law and law enforcement at his back.  He had his writing and speeches with which to defend his race, but that was enough to make a difference.  The genius and phenomenal orator was joined by author  Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose novel was likely the second most important English book after the Bible.  People could not mentally justify seeing Uncle Tom in chains, sharpening the moral divisions in the country before it split into two.

However, if you take away free speech, there’s no chance for the word to spread.  Ideas die where they begin, and the weaker factions in society are locked out.  The woke try to presume that they have perfect representation, grounded in their collective view of the community, but they have no room for a Thomas Sowell, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or David Rubin within the ideological boxes.  They obviously are trying to block these alternate voices from getting their message out, they try to prevent people from hearing a message that could change their worldview.   I know my change of position on gun control came from people explaining just what the Assault Weapons Ban actually banned, and similar gun control follies.

Freedom of speech is not just a question of you being able to talk, it is a question of whether you can hear what other people have to say.  Their words hold value, like yours.

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  1. Freeven Inactive
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    Your post inspired me to do some reading on Douglass. Here’s the fuller quote, which is really on point:

    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… Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.

    And another:

    To make a contented slave, you must make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate his power of reason.

    Boy is that on point.

    • #1
  2. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Your post inspired me to do some reading on Douglass. Here’s the fuller quote, which is really on point:

    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… Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.

    And another:

    To make a contented slave, you must make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate his power of reason.

    Boy is that on point.

    How fitting that our Constitution addressed that point in its First Amendment.

    • #2
  3. She Member
    She
    @She

    I approve this message.

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    • #3
  4. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Hear, hear!

    This is the great cultural battle of our time. The left’s fearful embrace of censorship and silencing is shameful and pathetic.

    • #4
  5. Theodoric of Freiberg Member
    Theodoric of Freiberg
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    Frederick Douglass is one of our greatest Americans. He understood freedom and liberty as few others have.

    • #5
  6. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Freedom of speech is not just a question of you being able to talk, it is a question of whether you can hear what other people have to say.  Their words hold value, like yours.

    Alas, no. The words may cause harm. The words may be literally violent. The words may imply, or commit,  erasure. The words may deny lived experience. The words may marginalize. The words may be saturated in Western “rationalism” to an extent that they otherize other ways of apprehending the world.

    A word may sound like a bad word, and while it is not the bad word, it maybe phoneme-adjacent, and cause harm by making the listener imagine the word that was not spoke. A word may be uttered with noble intent, but if it is heard by someone who interprets the intent differently, trauma may occur.

     it is a question of whether you can hear what other people have to say

    Yeah no if they’re Nazis, bro, miss with me that fash talk

    Douglass was an inheritor of a tradition of rational inquiry and analytic rhetoric, so he can be safely dismissed as having incorporated the values of the oppressor. 

    All nonsense, of course, but you know he’ll be quietly cancelled, eventually. His brilliance aside, he is . . . inconvenient.

    • #6
  7. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    it maybe phoneme-adjacent,

    I will be looking for an opportunity to plagiarize that.

    • #7
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