Writers & Freedom of Speech

“I may not agree with what you say,
but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

François-Marie Arouet, (1694 – 1778)

There can be no more important sentiment than Voltaire’s commitment to the freedom of speech. Once we have lost this, we have committed ourselves to imprisonment of mind, soul and spirit. Here, in our country, this commitment is enshrined in our Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

First Amendment, The Bill of Rights, The Constitution of the United States

The moment we allow others to silence us, or deny any other person their right to speak their mind, we lose our fundamental freedom to express ourselves. The loss of this freedom, or any other in our Constitution, will destroy our reason to write, to think, to speak.

We may not like what others say, but we must not deny them the freedom to express their opinion. If we silence those with whom we disagree, we will be silenced in our turn.

Along with the freedom to speak goes the freedom not to listen.

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4 Comments

  1. “I may not agree with what you say,
    but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    François-Marie Arouet, (1694 – 1778)

    If only more people could read those words and take them to heart. Unfortunately, the Western world’s claim to such a freedom as that of speech is little more than a fallacy, at best. Any casual remark or personal opinion that the media gets a whiff of turns into furious debates and accusations of bigotry. Any untoward expression is treated as cultural regression, every defence of opinion is seen as an attack. It seems opinion is free so long as it does not offend anybody, which it will by virtue of nature. At least there still exist level-headed individuals who recognise that irony.

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