Thomas Jefferson On Tolerance of Opposing Opinions

If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

The Time Rock & Roll Saved Free Speech (YouTube)

Nice video from the Foundation for Economic Education recounting the tale of the Parent’s Music Resource Center.

I’d forgotten about the Filthy Fifteen list of songs that the PMRC put out in 1985 as being most objectionable.

  1. Prince “Darling Nikki”
  2. Sheena Easton “Sugar Walls”
  3. Judas Priest “Eat Me Alive”
  4. Vanity “Strap On ‘Robbie Baby'”
  5. Mötley Crüe “Bastard”
  6. AC/DC “Let Me Put My Love Into You”
  7. Twisted Sister “We’re Not Gonna Take It”
  8. Madonna “Dress You Up”
  9. W.A.S.P. “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)”
  10. Def Leppard “High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night)”
  11. Mercyful Fate “Into the Coven”
  12. Black Sabbath “Trashed”
  13. Mary Jane Girls “In My House”
  14. Venom “Possessed”
  15. Cyndi Lauper “She Bop”

C-SPAN has a video of the nearly 5-hour long testimony on September 19, 1985 before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. A full transcript plus additional materials is available here.

Wendy Kaminer On The Right Not To Be Offended

Wendy Kaminer hits the nail on the head about avoiding offense.

If we have a right not to be offended, then we have no right to give offense. That means we have no reliable, predictable right to speak, because in diverse societies there are no universal opinions or beliefs that are universally inoffensive. If we have a legal right to feel emotionally safe and un-offended, we have a legal obligation to keep silent, which we violate at our peril. Emotionally safe societies are dangerous places for people who speak.

-Wendy Kaminer, On College Campuses, The Danger of Playing It Safe With Ideas, November 21, 2014

John Stuart Mill on Freedom of Speech

We have now recognised the necessity to the mental well-being of mankind (on which all their other well-being depends) of freedom of opinion, and freedom of the expression of opinion, on four distinct grounds; which we will now briefly recapitulate.

First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.

Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions, that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.

Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.

-John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859