Source: Lodi Sentinel
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Speech May Be Too Free”
Author(s): Potter, Henry Codman
City of publication: Lodi, California
Date of publication: 8 October 1901
Volume number: 22
Issue number: 55
|Potter, Henry Codman. “Speech May Be Too Free.” Lodi Sentinel 8 Oct. 1901 v22n55: p. .|
|freedom of speech; anarchism (dealing with); education.|
|“By Henry Codman Potter, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York” (p. ).|
Speech May Be Too Free
WOULD it not seem that there is something wrong in the heritage which has
come down to us through history? Howsoever deep our admiration, it is impossible
not to recognize that certain elements of our constitution are the products
of brains which DREW THEIR INSPIRATION FROM THE TEACHINGS OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.
To the men that made the constitution the modern anarchist might have been a
figure as monstrous as impossible. But some of the tenets of anarchy were not
wrong, in the opinion of the makers of the constitution. In fact, if seen in
the light thus thrown upon them, the principles of anarchy today are not so
One of th[ese] is free speech. But can there be any such thing as absolutely free speech? If it were so, would we then stretch out our hand to stay him who would enter our homes and poison the minds of our half grown sons and daughters? There should be no freedom of speech in any such unlicensed sense more than there should be freedom to handle gunpowder as any irresponsible person may see fit. There are laws to govern the latter, and if it be our right and duty to make laws to guard against this danger it is equally our right and OUR DUTY TO ERECT SAFEGUARDS AGAINST THE LICENSE OF SPEECH.
But we are not prepared to expel the false prophets, nor to muzzle free speech, nor to burn incendiary books. Treatment of this kind, even were we prepared for it, would be essentially superficial. We must delve deep[er] in order to find a remedy. Then we will in all probability find that these conditions have been created by ignorance.
From all parts of the old world there is a constant march to these shores of a class of radical socialists. They are ignorant of our institutions and our system of government. We must have a great system of free education, a system that will reach and enlighten the perverted minds of all such persons of whatever age, so as to give them a true comprehension of the principle[s] underlying our government.
AND WE MUST REPRESENT IN OUR LIVES AN EXAMPLE OF SINCERE MANHOOD AND ENLIGHTENED CITIZENSHIP AND REFRAIN FROM SINKING INTO LYING PHARISAISM WHICH, WHILE READY TO DENOUNCE THE WRONG, WILL NOT LIFT ITS SMALLEST FINGER TO REMOVE IT AND ITS CAUSES.