Publication information
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Source: Commoner
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Freedom of Speech”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Lincoln, Nebraska
Date of publication: 27 September 1901
Volume number: 1
Issue number: 36
Pagination: 1

“Freedom of Speech.” Commoner 27 Sept. 1901 v1n36: p. 1.
full text
freedom of speech (restrictions on); freedom of speech.
Named persons
William McKinley.


Freedom of Speech

     Some of the republican papers are suggesting limitations upon the freedom of speech as a cure for anarchy. The editor of THE COMMONER has as much reason as any living man to know of the abuse sometimes heaped upon candidates for office. He has been the victim of as much malice and vituperation as have ever been employed against an American, and yet he is opposed to placing any additional restriction upon the freedom of speech or the freedom of the press.
     First, because the evils of restriction are greater than the evils of freedom, and, second, because abuse does not hurt the man or the party made the subject of attack. The death of President McKinley can not be traced to anything ever spoken or written against him. The assassin spoke affectionately of his victim and said that he killed him not because of his dislike for the man but because of his opposition to government of any kind. Some who are engaged in schemes which will not bear the light will shield themselves behind the murderous deed of the assassin and denounce freedom of speech because they do not want the public to be informed of their doings. Others, stirred by a righteous indignation, strike at free speech because some have abused the latitude allowed. It is time for liberty-loving citizens to protest against the attempt to suppress free speech. The warfare must be against anarchy, not against freedom of speech. Anarchy is an European product and thrives most where there is least freedom of speech and least freedom of the press. Let us not make the mistake of undermining our institutions under the delusion that we are thus protecting those institutions.
     Free speech and a free press are essential to free government. No man in public life can object to the publication of the truth and no man in public life is permanently injured by the publication of a lie. That much is published that should not be is only too evident, but let public opinion correct the evil; that will be more effective than law and will bring no danger with it. If a paper abuses a political opponent stop your subscription and teach the editor to conduct his paper on respectable lines. There is a sense of justice in the human heart and he who violates it violates it at his own peril. This sense of justice ultimately turns abuse to the benefit of the man abused. The present laws against slander and libel are sufficient; leave the rest to a healthy public sentiment—and then help to create the sentiment.



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