Free Press Anthology (Classic Reprint)by Theodore Schroeder
Excerpt from Free Press Anthology
A Few Years ago I went to a public library containing 250,000 volumes, and found in its catalogue only two items indexed under freedom of speech and press. In several smaller libraries nothing upon this subject was found. Such conditions evidence a supine and lethargic security which is ever the best possible encouragement for the… See more details below
Excerpt from Free Press Anthology
A Few Years ago I went to a public library containing 250,000 volumes, and found in its catalogue only two items indexed under freedom of speech and press. In several smaller libraries nothing upon this subject was found. Such conditions evidence a supine and lethargic security which is ever the best possible encouragement for the destroyers of liberty. I was therefore partially prepared for another extraordinary discovery.
A comparative study of the laws persuaded me that, notwithstanding our paper constitutions to the contrary, liberty of speech and of the press, in some parts of the United States, is now abridged to a greater extent than it is in England, or was, even a century ago. While the cruelty of the penalties has been much relaxed, the number of penalized ideas has been increased. Now, as then, these repressive laws are not generally enforced, but are always readily and successfully invoked against persons who have otherwise made themselves unpopular. Furthermore, the uncertainty of the criteria of guilt, in these censorial laws, has been materially increased, in spite of our constitutional guarantees against constructive crimes. The arbitrariness of the lawless suppression of free speech by ignorant, hysterical, and tyrannical police officers, and through the extension of executive process and government by injunctions, and the unjust discrimination manifested in the exercise of a lawless discretion on the part of municipal executives and our quasi-official moralists for revenue, should be apparent and abhorrent to all who view current events with an earnest and intelligent desire to promote truth, justice, and liberty.
The most discouraging feature of this state of facts arises from the total absence of anything like a formidable protest. Where in England a century ago riots resulted from attempts to enforce laws abridging free speech, and the right of free assembly, the present American public views such conduct with utter indifference. Although the repression is often unwarranted even by an unconstitutional statute, yet, in most instances, the mass of the public applauds this official lawlessness.
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