Voltairine de CleyreVoltairine de Cleyre, (1866-1912) American anarchist, writer, speaker, feminist

Voltairine de Cleyre Quote

“Make no laws whatever concerning speech, and speech will be free; so soon as you make a declaration on paper that speech shall be free, you will have a hundred lawyers proving that “freedom does not mean abuse, nor liberty license,” and they will define freedom out of existence.”

Voltairine de CleyreVoltairine de Cleyre
~ Voltairine de Cleyre

Anarchism & American Traditions in Mother Earth (December 1908/January 1909)

Ratings and Comments

Anonymous, Reston, VA, US

Abusive/hate speech should not be tolerated regardless of if there is a statement that speech is free or not, and thus this argument is specious.

Ken, Allyn, WA

The lack of a written contract never stopped a lawyer from suing or from defining freedom out of existence. Any speech that does not directly threaten or destroy someone else's property must be tolerated. Any speech can be "hate speech" to someone and it is a dangerous path to speak of not tolerating someone else's thoughts or beliefs. As for myself, I think most of the speech that comes from leftist progressives is hate speech. Maybe Anonymous from Reston is right. They should be locked up too.

E Archer, NYC

Remember that in America, our government has not declared that speech shall be free. Quite the contrary -- the People have declared that the government may not ever make any law abridging the freedom of speech. If the government can grant a right, it can take it away, too. Anon from Reston, you cannot have it both ways -- your comments about 'King George' leave no doubt of your hatred of Bush and his cronies -- the day 'hate speech' will not be tolerated will be the day people like GWB take over our country for good. In this country you can tell a person to go to hell.

A.Jurgensen, Stuart, FL

Every single word we utter is up for grabs (read censorship). There is no such thing as 'hate speech'. Perception is the issue here...One perceives what One wants to. Even the phrase "I'd like to kill you" is generally said out of emotion rather than deliberately. Hate speech? Depends upon who is hearing the phrase. Ah, but let the lawyers into the discussion and we're probably looking at some kind of legislation aginst using that phrase...as if it were possible to enforce such a law.

Mike, Norwalk

In the light and context the quote is given, a broad spectrum of depth is covered (far more accurate, far more often than not). At the most basic review, “speech” is unalienable / inherently free at nature’s law (with or without legal calligraphy or other script). In carnal man’s philisophical application of control (also called law), freedom of anything (speech) is never exempt from scathing reviews. An occupational hazard of attorneys is he/she/it (can’t forget AI) gets paid by the word; thus, leaving no term or concept safe from alteration.

Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

A feminist should be an advocate for gender equality, not supremacy.  A masculinist is a male advocate for gender equality. Do not perform abortions, no matter the gender.


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