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Freedom of Speech Quotes


Freedom of Speech is a very controversial subject, and with the recent events in France, more timely than ever. I could waste tons of good quotes here in this introduction – but I won’t. Too many people have fought for the right to speak freely without censorship. Too many people have died for this right to be regarded as an integral concept in our, self-proclaimed, liberal democracies. Too many people; but as it seems, not many enough.

The basic concepts of the notion can be found in nearly all incarnations of the earliest documents dealing with our rights as human beings. As early as 1698, when England’s Bill of Rights granted the Parliament the right to speak its mind; the same bill is in effect today. Some 100 years later in France, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, elevated free speech as an undeniable human right. There is even the famous article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; a declaration written and adopted right after the tragic events of the Second World War.

Article 19:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

 

Here is a list of such articles:

  • Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights
  • Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Freedom of Speech is important. It is a multifaceted right and it is not limited, contrary to popular belief, to the right of expressing one’s ideas:

  1. Freedom of Speech is the right to seek new information and new ideas
  2. Freedom of Speech is the right to receive new information and new ideas
  3. Freedom of speech is the right to communicate new information and new ideas

Sadly, these rights are, most of the times, easier recited than upholded. Discrimination, racism, the power of the rich, unfairness, capitalism: the content of and the means for free expression are in a constant war with terms like “politically correct” and “respect of individuality”.

Some of the greatest men and women said some wonderful things on the right to speak your mind.

Here are 10 Quotes about Freedom of Speech:

1. Freedom is For Everyone

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

Freedom is For Everyone - Noam Chomsky

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

2. What Liberty Means

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

What Liberty Means - George Orwell

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

3. You Have the Right of Your Words

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”

You Have the Right of Your Words - Oscar Wilde

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”

4. Like Sheep to the Slaughter

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

Like Sheep to the Slaughter - George Washington

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

5. Above All Liberties

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

Above All Liberties - John Milton

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

6. An opinion for a knock down

“Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it.”

An opinion for a knock down - Samuel Johnson

“Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it.”

7. Lies Are no Match for the Truth

“We have to uphold a free press and freedom of speech. Because, in the end, lies and misinformation are no match for the truth.”

Lies Are no Match for the Truth - Barack Obama

“We have to uphold a free press and freedom of speech. Because, in the end, lies and misinformation are no match for the truth.”

8. The Right to Blaspheme and Offend

“Free speech is the bedrock of liberty and a free society. And yes, it includes the right to blaspheme and offend.”

The Right to Blaspheme and Offend - Ayaan Hirsi Ali

“Free speech is the bedrock of liberty and a free society. And yes, it includes the right to blaspheme and offend.”

9. The Music of Our Opinions

“The sound of tireless voices is the price we have to pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions.”

The Music of Our Opinions - Adlai Stevenson

“The sound of tireless voices is the price we have to pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions.”

10. The First Link is All it Takes

The First Link is All it Takes - Judge Aaron Satie

“With the first link, the chains are forged. The first speech censured, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.”