Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Liberals have fallen in love with the idea of censoring people they disagree with via shouting them down, political correctness, violently attacking them in the streets, or denying them a platform to speak. This is profoundly unhealthy, un-American, and bad for the country. Conservatives seem to understand this, but liberals have lost sight of this principle that helped make America such a great country. We may never change the minds of liberals in power who use censorship because they’re incapable of defending their ideas, but we may be able to reach younger Americans and teach them lessons about freedom of speech and censorship that they’re not going to hear from their liberal teachers.
1) “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” – Ben Franklin
2) “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – S.G. Tallentyre, The Friends of Voltaire
3) “I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking. It cannot be so easily discovered if you allow him to remain silent and look wise, but if you let him speak, the secret is out and the world knows that he is a fool. So it is by the exposure of folly that it is defeated; not by the seclusion of folly, and in this free air of free speech men get into that sort of communication with one another which constitutes the basis of all common achievement.” – Woodrow Wilson
4) “When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.” – Yevgeny Yevtushenko
5) “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.” – Salman Rushdie
6) “Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
7) “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. In the long run it will create a generation incapable of appreciating the difference between independence of thought and subservience.” – Henry Steele Commager
8) “All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.” – George Bernard Shaw
9) “Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.” – Potter Stewart
10) “Freedom of speech is freedom above all for those whose views you dislike most.” – Peter Hitchens
11) “He who stifles free discussion, secretly doubts whether what he professes to believe is really true.” – Wendell Phillips
12) “Without free speech no search for Truth is possible; without free speech no discovery of Truth is useful; without free speech progress is checked, and the nations no longer march forward towards the nobler life which the future holds for man. Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day; the denial slays the life of the people and entombs the hope of the race.” – Walter Bradlaugh
13) “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 of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment to come in their presence. Slavery cannot tolerate free speech.” – Frederick Douglass
14) “You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.” – John Morley
15) “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
16) “You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing everything with logic. If words control you that means everyone else can control you.” – Bruce Lee
17) “It was a shocking thing to say and I knew it was a shocking thing to say. But no one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. And if you open it and read it, you don’t have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don’t have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book. You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, or sold, or bought, or read.” – Philip Pullman
18) “If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all — except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.” – John F. Kennedy
19) “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.” – Mark Twain
20) “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell
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