John Stuart Mill

“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion"

See "On Liberty."

Rosa Luxemburg

"Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element."

See The Russian Revolution, chapter 6 ("The Problem of Dictatorship")

Frederick Douglass

"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."

See "A Plea for Free Speech in Boston" (1860)

George Orwell

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Thurgood Marshall

“The First Amendment serves not only the needs of the polity but also those of the human spirit — a spirit that demands self-expression. Such expression is an integral part of the development of ideas and a sense of identity.”

See concurring opinionProcunier v. Martinez (1974).

George Carlin

Christopher Hitchens

"The right of others to free expression is part of my own. If someone’s voice is silenced, then I am deprived of the right to hear. Moreover, I have never met nor heard of anybody I would trust with the job of deciding in advance what it might be permissible for me or anyone else to say or read. That freedom of expression consists of being able to tell people what they may not wish to hear, and that it must extend, above all, to those who think differently is, to me, self-evident."

See clip from 2006 University of Toronto debate (“Freedom of Speech includes the Freedom to Hate”)  

Salman Rushdie

"Everyone has a right to tell their story in any way they wish. This goes back to the question of what sort of society we want. If you wish to live in an open society, it follows that people will talk about things in different ways and some of them will cause offense and anger. The answer to that is matter-of-fact: OK, you don’t like it, but there are lots of things I don’t like either. That’s the price for living in an open society. From the moment you begin to talk about limiting and controlling certain expressions, you step into a world where freedom no longer reigns and from that moment on, you are only discussing what level of un-freedom you want to accept. You have already accepted the principle of not being free."

See clip (minutes 33 to 39) from 2015 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize.

Mario Savio

"To me freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity of what a human being is.… That’s what marks us off from the stones and the stars. You can speak freely. It is almost impossible for me to describe. It is the thing that marks us as just below the angels."

See clip of 1964 Sproul Hall speech.

The Georgetown University Free Speech Project

"The Free Speech Project, a grantee of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, studies the state of Free Speech in America, particularly in higher education, in the context of broader developments in civil society"

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© Jeffrey Aaron Snyder, 2020