Free Speech Quotes

Quotes tagged as "free-speech" (showing 1-30 of 140)
Søren Kierkegaard
“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
Søren Kierkegaard

Salman Rushdie
“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
Salman Rushdie

G.K. Chesterton
“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”
G.K. Chesterton

Stephen Fry
“It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what."

[I saw hate in a graveyard -- Stephen Fry, The Guardian, 5 June 2005]”
Stephen Fry

Winston S. Churchill
“Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”
Winston S. Churchill

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
“To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Kurt Vonnegut
“All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let's get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States -- and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!”
Kurt Vonnegut

Daniel Patrick Moynihan
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Salman Rushdie
“Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn't exist in any declaration I have ever read.

If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people.

I can walk into a bookshop and point out a number of books that I find very unattractive in what they say. But it doesn't occur to me to burn the bookshop down. If you don't like a book, read another book. If you start reading a book and you decide you don't like it, nobody is telling you to finish it.

To read a 600-page novel and then say that it has deeply offended you: well, you have done a lot of work to be offended.”
Salman Rushdie

Richard Pryor
“You can't talk about fucking in America, people say you're dirty. But if you talk about killing somebody, that's cool.”
Richard Pryor

George Bernard Shaw
“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, Mrs. Warren's Profession

Utah Phillips
“The state can't give you free speech, and the state can't take it away. You're born with it, like your eyes, like your ears. Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free...”
Utah Phillips

Vera Nazarian
“A choir is made up of many voices, including yours and mine. If one by one all go silent then all that will be left are the soloists.

Don’t let a loud few determine the nature of the sound. It makes for poor harmony and diminishes the song.”
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Abbie Hoffman
“Free speech means the right to shout 'theatre' in a crowded fire.”
Abbie Hoffman

Christopher Hitchens
“The struggle for a free intelligence has always been a struggle between the ironic and the literal mind.”
Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens
“When the Washington Post telephoned me at home on Valentine's Day 1989 to ask my opinion about the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwah, I felt at once that here was something that completely committed me. It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved. In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying, and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual, and the defense of free expression. Plus, of course, friendship—though I like to think that my reaction would have been the same if I hadn't known Salman at all. To re-state the premise of the argument again: the theocratic head of a foreign despotism offers money in his own name in order to suborn the murder of a civilian citizen of another country, for the offense of writing a work of fiction. No more root-and-branch challenge to the values of the Enlightenment (on the bicentennial of the fall of the Bastille) or to the First Amendment to the Constitution, could be imagined. President George H.W. Bush, when asked to comment, could only say grudgingly that, as far as he could see, no American interests were involved…”
Christopher Hitchens, Hitch 22: A Memoir

Bryant McGill
“Do not make the mistake of thinking that you have to agree with people and their beliefs to defend them from injustice.”
Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason

William Lloyd Garrison
“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.”
William Lloyd Garrison

Napoléon Bonaparte
“Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets..”
Napoléon Bonaparte

Thomas L. Friedman
“When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, it becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues.”
Thomas L. Friedman

E.A. Bucchianeri
“It’s not unpatriotic to denounce an injustice committed on our behalf, perhaps it’s the most patriotic thing we can do.”
E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly,

Edward Snowden
“Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
Edward Snowden

Daniel M. Gilbert
“We live in a world in which people are censured, demoted, imprisoned, beheaded, simply because they have opened their mouths, flapped their lips, and vibrated some air. Yes, those vibrations can make us feel sad or stupid or alienated. Tough shit. That's the price of admission to the marketplace of ideas. Hateful, blasphemous, prejudiced, vulgar, rude, or ignorant remarks are the music of a free society, and the relentless patter of idiots is how we know we're in one. When all the words in our public conversation are fair, good, and true, it's time to make a run for the fence.”
Daniel M. Gilbert

Maajid Nawaz
“No idea is above scrutiny and no people are beneath dignity.”
Maajid Nawaz, Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue

“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”
Hubert H. Humphrey

Northrop Frye
“Nobody is capable of of free speech unless he knows how to use language, and such knowledge is not a gift: it has to learned and worked at. [p.93]”
Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination

Robert G. Ingersoll
“Some Christian lawyers—some eminent and stupid judges—have said and still say, that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of all law.

Nothing could be more absurd. Long before these commandments were given there were codes of laws in India and Egypt—laws against murder, perjury, larceny, adultery and fraud. Such laws are as old as human society; as old as the love of life; as old as industry; as the idea of prosperity; as old as human love.

All of the Ten Commandments that are good were old; all that were new are foolish. If Jehovah had been civilized he would have left out the commandment about keeping the Sabbath, and in its place would have said: 'Thou shalt not enslave thy fellow-men.' He would have omitted the one about swearing, and said: 'The man shall have but one wife, and the woman but one husband.' He would have left out the one about graven images, and in its stead would have said: 'Thou shalt not wage wars of extermination, and thou shalt not unsheathe the sword except in self-defence.'

If Jehovah had been civilized, how much grander the Ten Commandments would have been.

All that we call progress—the enfranchisement of man, of labor, the substitution of imprisonment for death, of fine for imprisonment, the destruction of polygamy, the establishing of free speech, of the rights of conscience; in short, all that has tended to the development and civilization of man; all the results of investigation, observation, experience and free thought; all that man has accomplished for the benefit of man since the close of the Dark Ages—has been done in spite of the Old Testament.”
Robert G. Ingersoll, About The Holy Bible

Thomas Jefferson
“The only security of all is in a free press.”
Thomas Jefferson

Earl Warren
“The censor's sword pierces deeply into the heart of free expression.”
Earl Warren

William O. Douglas
“The framers of the constitution knew human nature as well as we do. They too had lived in dangerous days; they too knew the suffocating influence of orthodoxy and standardized thought. They weighed the compulsions for restrained speech and thought against the abuses of liberty. They chose liberty."

[Beauharnais v.Illinois, 342 U.S. 250, 287 (1952) (dissenting)]”
William O. Douglas

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