Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition…But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas. . . . The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. — Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+freedom+of+speech&qpvt=images+freedom+of+speech&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=6F2A23F3EA3D83E2BB036880B3DDB4EA9A89C78E&selectedIndex=27

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrams_v._United_States#Holmes.27_dissent

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 Holmes’ dissent is now accepted as the better statement of the law.     Holmes’s passionate, indignant opinion above is often quoted.

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http://www.booktv.org/Program/14955/The+Great+Dissent+How+Oliver+Wendell+Holmes+Changed+His+Mind+and+Changed+the+History+of+Free+Speech+in+America.aspx

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Wendell_Holmes,_Jr#cite_note-6

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Profoundly influenced by his experience fighting in the American Civil War, Holmes helped move American legal thinking towards legal realism, as summed up in his maxim: “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

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Holmes espoused a form of moral skepticism and opposed the doctrine of natural law, marking a significant shift in American jurisprudence.

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As he wrote in one of his most famous decisions, his dissent in Abrams v. United States (1919), he regarded the United States Constitution as “an experiment, as all life is an experiment” and believed that as a consequence “we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death.”

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During his tenure on the Supreme Court, to which he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt, he supported efforts for economic regulation and advocated broad freedom of speech under the First Amendment. These positions as well as his distinctive personality and writing style made him a popular figure, especially with American progressives, despite his deep cynicism and disagreement with their politics. His jurisprudence influenced much subsequent American legal thinking, including judicial consensus supporting New Deal regulatory law, and influential schools of pragmatism, critical legal studies, and law and economics. He was one of only a handful of justices to be known as a scholar; The Journal of Legal Studies has identified Holmes as one of the three most cited American legal scholars of the 20th century.

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One Response to Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition…But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas. . . . The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. — Oliver Wendell Holmes

  1. Pingback: clear and present danger — free speech vs. impermissible action | Curtis Narimatsu

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