censorship / freedom / liberty

Censor, n. An officer of certain governments, employed to supress the works of genius. Among the Romans the censor was an inspector of public morals, but the public morals of modern nations will not bear inspection.

The Enlarged Devil's Dictionary, 1967

The Electronic Frontier Foundation Quotes Collection : "A collection of the wittiest and stupidest, most sublime and most inane comments ever said or written about free speech, cryptography, privacy, civil liberties, networking, government, communication, society, human nature, reason, optimism and pessimism, progress, and more."

The American magazine Sky & Telescope is aimed at amateur astronomers, young and old, with articles on such topics as "The scavenger's 12-inch telescope" which can be built for under $300. The magazine's publishers have a nice website at http://www.skypub.com .
But don't try to get there from your school's PC if the head of IT has installed one of the "net-minder" software-censor programs. Sky & Telescope reports that because of the frequent appearance of the term "naked eye" on its Web pages, some of these search-and-ban programs have blocked access.

-- Feedback, New Scientist , 28 March 1998

Dissent is the mark of freedom.

-- Science and Human Values 1965

Thou shalt not kill; but need'st not strive
Officiously to keep alive.

-- The Latest Decalogue 10

It is not the job of government to guarantee that the business model enabled by last year’s technology will go on for ever. If it were, we would have outlawed radio to save vaudeville.

-- Denying physics won’t save the video stars , The Times , 30 Oct 2009

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread.

-- The Red Lily , ch. 7. 1894

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-- Historical Review of Pennsylvania , 1759
see also http://www.futureofthebook.com/stories/storyReader$605

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

-- The Friends of Voltaire , 1906

The phrase "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" is widely attributed to Voltaire , but cannot be found in his writings. With good reason. The phrase was invented by a later author as an epitome of his attitude. It appeared in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall under the pseudonym S[tephen] G. Tallentyre.
Hall wrote:

...The men who had hated [the book], and had not particularly loved Helvétius, flocked round him now. Voltaire forgave him all injuries, intentional or unintentional. 'What a fuss about an omelette!' he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,' was his attitude now.

Hall herself claimed later that she had been paraphrasing Voltaire's words in his Essay on Tolerance : "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too."

-- http://www.plexoft.com/

I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to mis-attribute this quote to Voltaire.

-- Avram Grumer, rec.arts.sf.written , May 2000

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

-- St. John's Speech, 23 March 1775
(speech reconstructed after the event, first published 1817)

When I became convinced that the universe is natural—that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light, and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world—not even in infinite space.

I was free—free to think, to express my thoughts—free to live to my own ideal—free to use all my faculties, all my senses—free to spread imagination's wings—free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope—free to judge and determine for myself—free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the "inspired" books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past—free from popes and priests—free from all the "called" and "set apart"—free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies—free from the fear of eternal pain—free from the winged monsters of the night—free from devils, ghosts, and gods.

For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought—no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings—no chains for my limbs—no lashes for my back—no fires for my flesh—no master's frown or threat—no following another's steps—no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain—for the freedom of labor and thought—to those who proudly mounted scaffold's stairs—to those whose flesh was scarred and torn—to those by fire consumed—to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.

-- Ingersoll's Vow

I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous - if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men.

-- The Ghosts , 1877

This crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves.

-- An Interview on Chief Justice Comegys , Brooklyn Eagle, 1881

Intellectual freedom is only the right to be honest.

-- Works of Robert G. Ingersoll: Tributes and Miscellany Vol 12, 1915, p358

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

-- Notes on the State of Virginia , 1784

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.

-- Letter to Peter Carr , from Paris, 10 August 1787
collected in Memoirs, Correspondence and Private Papers of Thomas Jefferson , Volume II, p216, 1829

Against us are the executive, the judiciary, two out of three branches of the legislature, all the officers of the government, all who want to be officers, all timid men who prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty , British merchants, and Americans trading on British capitals, speculators and holders in the banks and public funds, a contrivance invented for the purposes of corruption, and for assimilating us in all things to the rotten as well as the sound parts of the British model.

-- Letter to Philip Mazzei , from Monticello, 24 April 1796
collected in Memoirs, Correspondence and Private Papers of Thomas Jefferson , Volume III, p334, 1829

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them

-- Letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp , from Monticello, 30 July, 1816
in Matthew A. Misbach, ed. The Van der Kemp Collection: A bundle of Thomas Jefferson's Letters , p30, 2006

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable

-- speech, 13 March 1962

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put up a wall to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us.

-- "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, 26 June 1963

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

-- Letter from Birmingham Jail, 16 April 1963

Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.

-- Prejudices, Third Series , Chapter 3, 1922

The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty — and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies.

-- Baltimore Evening Sun , 12 February 1923

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

-- (attrib.)

John Stuart Mill

But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error .

-- On Liberty , 1859
Chapter 2: Of the liberty of thought and discussion

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out, because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.

-- there are several versions of this famous anti-Nazi speech,
probably because it was given on several different occasions

When they took the 4th Amendment, I was quiet because I didn't deal drugs. When they took the 6th Amendment, I was quiet because I am innocent. When they took the 2nd Amendment, I was quiet because I don't own a gun. Now they have taken the 1st Amendment, and I can only be quiet."

Lyle Myhr

while children should be protected against potentially corrupting material, adults are too often over-protected. If they're old enough to choose a government, they're certainly old enough to decide what they want to watch on TV.

-- On Censorship, Radio Times , p55, 5-11 March, 2005

Thomas Paine

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. 'Tis dearness only that gives everything its value.

-- The Crisis , 1776

It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves

-- On First Principles of Government , 1795

Qu’on me donne six lignes écrites de la main du plus honnête homme, j’y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre.
If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

-- attrib.

le citoyen doit s'armer de force et de constance, et dire chaque jour de sa vie au fond de son coeur ce que disait un vertueux Palatine 2 dans la diète de Pologne: Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium .
1 Le Palatine de Posnanie, père du roi de Pologne, duc de Lorraine.

-- Du Contrat Social IV, Démocratie , 1762

the citizen should arm himself with strength and constancy, and say, every day of his life, what a virtuous Count Palatine 1 said in the Diet of Poland: " Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium ."
1 The Palatine of Posen, father of the King of Poland, Duke of Lorraine. [ I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery. ]

-- The Social Contract chapter IV, Democracy , 1762

One should respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.

The Conquest of Happiness

, 1930

Bruce Schneier

... it is poor civic hygiene to install technologies that could someday facilitate a police state.

-- Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World , 2000

Too many wrongly characterize the debate as "security versus privacy." The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.

-- The Eternal Value of Privacy . Wired, 18 May 2006

A terrorist attack cannot possibly destroy a country's way of life; it's only our reaction to that attack that can do that kind of damage. The more we undermine our own laws, the more we convert our buildings into fortresses, the more we reduce the freedoms and liberties at the foundation of our societies, the more we're doing the terrorists' job for them.

-- Is aviation security mostly for show? . CNN.com, 29 December 2009

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

-- "Maxims for Revolutionists: Liberty and Equality", Man and Superman . 1903

...society, with all its prisons and bayonets and whips and ostracisms and starvations, is powerless in the face of the Anarchist who is prepared to sacrifice his own life in the battle with it. Our natural safety from the cheap and devastating explosives which every Russian student can make, and every Russian grenadier has learnt to handle in Manchuria, lies in the fact that brave and resolute men, when they are rascals, will not risk their skins for the good of humanity, and, when they are sympathetic enough to care for humanity, abhor murder, and never commit it until their consciences are outraged beyond endurance. The remedy is, then, simply not to outrage their consciences .

-- Preface, Major Barbara . 1905

Il vaut mieux hasarder de sauver un coupable que de condamner un innocent.

-- Zadig , 1747

It is better to risk sparing a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.

Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort.

-- Catalogue pour la plupart des écrivains français qui ont paru dans Le Siècle de Louis XIV, pour servir à l'histoire littéraire de ce temps , Le Siècle de Louis XIV , 1752

It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong.

frequently translated as:

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

It is now long ago that I learned this lesson from General Armstrong, and resolved that I would permit no man , no matter what his colour might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him .

-- Up From Slavery , chapter XI, 1901

I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.

-- "Mr. Chesterton in Hysterics: A Study in Prejudice", The Clarion, , 14 Nov 1913
reprinted in The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West, 1911-17 . 1982

God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide.

-- "The Tosh Horse", The New Statesman . 1925
reprinted in The Strange Necessity: Essays and Reviews , ch.11, 1928