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FREEDOM OF SPEECH QUOTES

quotations about freedom of speech

Freedom of speech is of no use to a man who has nothing to say and freedom of worship is of no use to a man who has lost his God.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, speech, Nov. 2, 1940

Ideas about the scope and meaning of freedom of speech do expand and contract with the times. At the moment, we live in an age that is very permissive, both legally and socially, on a wide range of subjects from Karl Marx to kinky sex. This has not always been the case. Things that even children freely see and read and hear today -- writings, pictures, words -- would have been banned as just plain obscene, even for adults, as recently as the middle of the twentieth century.

LAWRENCE MEIR FRIEDMAN, American Law in the 20th Century

The worst way to defend our freedom is to let our leaders start taking away our freedoms! It is exactly during times like these [a national crisis] that we need more freedom of speech, a strong and critical press, and a citizenry that is not afraid to stand up and say that the emperor has no clothes.

MICHAEL MOORE, Stupid White Men

Freedom of speech is useless without freedom of thought.

SPIRO AGNEW, speech, Dec. 3, 1969

Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, The New England Courant, Jul. 9, 1722

Wherever despotism abounds, the sources of public information are the first to be brought under its control. Where ever the cause of liberty is making its way, one of its highest accomplishments is the guarantee of the freedom of the press.

CALVIN COOLIDGE, speech, Jan. 17, 1925

Freedom of speech is a guiding rule, one of the foundations of democracy, but at the same time, freedom does not imply anarchy, and the right to exercise free expression does not include the right to do unjustified harm to others.

RAPHAEL COHEN-ALMAGOR, Speech, Media and Ethics

We should not have either a blunt knife or a freedom of speech which is ill-managed.

EPICTETUS, Enchiridion

When a man says that he is Jesus or Napoleon, or that the Martians are after him, or claims something else that seems outrageous to common sense, he is labeled psychotic and locked up in a madhouse. Freedom of speech is only for normal people.

THOMAS SZASZ, The Second Sin

Should freedom of speech include the freedom to tell lies? Who decides what is true and what is a lie? Should the young and impressionable be exposed to propaganda deliberately designed to make them hate others? If we deny the deniers the right to spread their venom, are we then putting our own right to free speech at risk? At which point does hate speech so directly provoke violence that it should be banned?

TED GOTTFRIED, Deniers of the Holocaust

Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.

SALMAN RUSHDIE, London Guardian, Nov. 8, 1990

For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, address to the officers of the army, Mar. 15, 1783

Free speech is to a great people what winds are to oceans and malarial regions, which waft away the germs of disease, and bring new elements of health.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, "On Freedom of Speech and the Press," Pennsylvania Gazette, Nov. 17, 1737

I am here to speak on freedom of speech. It is a great topic, and I am going to make my speech as free as possible. But you know that this cannot be done, for when anyone announces that he is going to speak his mind freely, everyone is frightened. This shows that there is no such thing as true freedom of speech. No one can afford to let his neighbors know what he is thinking about them. Society can exist only on the basis that there is some amount of polished lying and that no one says exactly what he thinks.

LIN YUTANG, lecture, Mar. 4, 1933

Freedom of speech gives you the right to stay silent.

NEIL GAIMAN, American Gods


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