Friday, August 5, 2011

Free Speech: Cherish, Don't Cheapen It


In his famous dissent in Abrams v United States, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote that "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 can be safely carried out.  That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution."

Patriot Week celebrates the First Principle of unalienable rights - and the freedom of speech and press are some of our most cherished unalienable rights.

Today, this sentiment seems to be accepted as law, but under assault in practice.  Too often political commentators engage in ad hominenattacks and character assassination.  The demonization of those on the other side of political disputes is so commonplace, that it hardly is noticed.

Stated another way, although freedom of speech and press are precious rights, they have been cheapened and weakened by today's corrosive atmosphere.  When is the last time we had a serious political debate invoking the higher principles - the better angels - of our nature?

But Justice Holmes is correct - it is the competition of ideas - in a free marketplace - in which the best public policy and ideas can be derived - and attacking the messengers does nothing but corrupt and denigrate the quality of the debate - to the detriment of all.

For more about Patriot Week, visit Patriot Week.  For more about our how our liberty is at risk, visit America's Survival Guide

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