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If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. (Belief & Free Speech) Noam Chomsky
In many respects, the United States is a great country. Freedom of speech is protected more than in any other country. It is also a very free society. In America, the professor talks to the mechanic. They are in the same category. Noam Chomsky
With regard to freedom of speech there are basically two positions: you defend it vigorously for views you hate, or you reject it and prefer Stalinist/fascist standards. It is unfortunate that it remains necessary to stress these simple truths. Noam Chomsky, On Anarchism
Stand-up comedy and comedy in general is the ultimate form of free speech, because you get to poke holes in all the pretentious bubbles politicians and pundits and popes and pretenders try to float over our heads. Denis Leary
Like John Milton and other civil libertarians of the period, Locke held a sharply limited conception of freedom of expression. Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy
The right to freedom of speech in the United States was not established by the First Amendment to the Constitution, but only through dedicated efforts over a long period by the labor movement, the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s, and other popular forces. ibid.
It is also worth recalling that victories for freedom of speech are often won in defence of the most depraved and horrendous views. The 1969 Supreme Court decision was in defense of the Ku Klux Klan from prosecution after a meeting with hooded figures, guns, and a burning cross calling for ‘burying the nigger’ and ‘sending the Jews back to Israel’. ibid.
Give me the liberty to know to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties. John Milton, Areopagitica, 1644
The more a government strives to curtail freedom of speech, the more obstinately is it resisted; not indeed by the avaricious ... but by those whom good education, sound morality, and virtue have rendered more free. Baruch Spinoza
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. George Orwell
If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them. George Orwell, Tribune 7th December 1945
Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. Benjamin Franklin
It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practise either of them. Mark Twain, Following the Equator
Darrow came to Dayton because he believed in free speech and because he wanted to challenge a man who was in many ways his polar opposite, William Jennings Bryan. The Monkey Trial, PBS 2002
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 Gilbert
Why do socialists deny free speech to fascists? After all, we are in favour of democracy. Socialist ideas flourish best where there are trade unions, public meetings, leaflets and newspapers which express different points of view. Imposing socialist ideas without that democratic debate is the opposite of real socialism.
Yet we deny these rights to the Nazis. Is this just the same sort of hypocrisy used by tyrants through the ages who have demanded free speech for themselves but seized the first opportunity to deny it to others? After all, runs our critics’ argument, the fascists are, like you, a minority. They have a ‘point of view’. Why should they be denied the right to put that point of view in the same way that you do?
There are two immediate answers. First, there is the connection between saying and doing. If an organised party goes around preaching race hatred against black people, as the British National Party does, that race hatred is bound to overflow into deeds ...
The other answer to the question why deny free speech to the fascists is that the central aim of fascism is to destroy democracy. This is not speculation, as it might have been before Mussolini came to power in Italy in 1922 or Hitler in Germany 11 years later. Now we know without any shadow of doubt that the aim of fascism is totally to destroy democracy and to remove the rights and freedoms of everyone except themselves ...
The single common aim of fascism in the 1930s was to break the strength and spirit of organised labour: to pave the way for uninterrupted profiteering by the people who own the means of production. Though its shock troops were the lumpen proletariat and the lower middle class, fascism’s real master was capital. When at least sections of the capitalists lost all hope of proceeding through the democratic system and the trade unions it had conceded under pressure in the past, it looked round for a battering ram to dispose of both. Paul Foot, article May 1994, ‘Silencing the Nazi Threat’
A long time ago there was a company that made lots of money selling bits of meat between two bits of bread. Many people were employed to put the meat between the bread and many animals were killed to be the meat. A friendly clown persuaded children to love the company. Some decades passed and all was well. The company became very very rich. Richer even than many countries. And then some people wrote in their newspapers that eating lots of meat and bread could make people ill. Other people said on television that too many trees had been cut down and that the workers were unhappy. This made the company very angry. The company looked around the world and saw that in England there existed a special law that could stop people saying things the company didn’t like. And make them say sorry. McLibel (Two People Who Wouldn’t Say Sorry) 1997 ***** starring Helen Steel & David Morris & Eric Schlosser & Morgan Spurlock & Oliver Ford Davies, directors Franny Armstrong & Ken Loach, opening credits
19th June 1997: the Royal Courts of Justice. ibid.
One of the spies ... stole letters, broke into the office to take photographs, followed people home; we were infiltrated for about eighteen months by seven different spies. ibid. Dave Morris
At some meetings there were as many spies as campaigners. ibid. Dave Morris
Five of us in the group have received libel writs over the What’s Wrong with McDonald’s leaflets. ibid.
The world’s largest fast food business McDonald’s has begun a libel action at the high court against two environmental campaigners. ibid. BBC News 28th June 1994
We were defending ourselves. ibid. Helen Steel
Their own expert was saying, It’s a very reasonable thing to say. ibid.
The entire ad campaign ... was intrinsically deceptive. ibid. Stephen Gardner, Assistant US Attorney General
McDonald’s to try to justify themselves have had to bring all their big guns into the witness box. ibid. Dave Morris
One of the biggest battles we had throughout the trial was getting McDonald’s to hand over the relevant documents. ibid. Helen Steel
They flew over to have secret talks with me and Helen. ibid. Dave Morris
They just couldn’t bear to accept any of our demands really, and so it was back to court. ibid.
They would not be allowed to carry out any overt union activity on McDonald’s premises. ibid. trial judge
Key practices that they’ve pioneered over the last fifty years are spreading throughout society. ibid. Dave Morris
McLibel is now the longest trial ever in English history. ibid. Helen Steel
Libel laws are being used in this country as a draconian form of mass censorship. ibid. Dave Morris, day 309
Judgment Day: It has not been proved that a diet high in fat and animal products and low in fibre leads to a very real risk of cancer. ibid. trial judge
McDonald’s are culpably responsible for cruel practices in the rearing and slaughter of some of the animals which are used in their food. ibid.