William O. DouglasWilliam O. Douglas, (1898-1980), U. S. Supreme Court Justice

William O. Douglas Quote

“Ideas are indeed the most dangerous weapons in the world. Our ideas of freedom are the most powerful political weapons man has ever forged.”

William O. DouglasWilliam O. Douglas
~ William O. Douglas

An Almanac of Liberty, 1954

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

Ideas when acted upon may be the most dangerous weapons in the world; or the safest. I don't know that I would include Mr. Douglas in the 'Our' of the founders, their ideas of freedom, or their political perspectives. The quote as a stand alone abstract is accurate enough.

Andrea, Floral Park

Ideas on their own are not powerful nor dangerous. They are what we all have, all the time. The idea of freedom is basic, and could be at the heart of all humanity. Insecurity and greed motivates people with bad ideas to overpower others. (Hence, our president and his ideas and use of weapons in carrying these ideas out which has made our world a less stable place.

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  • Reply
    Anonymous    7/20/06

    Insecurity motivates people to to fear and either run or attack-flight or fight. When the reaction is flight, this invites attack from the adversary because it demonstrates weakness. Hence, when America allowed the hostages to be taken and held in Iran in 1979, when American ran from Lebanon in 1983, when America ran from Somalia, America's weakness was demonstrated and invited attack on 9/11. If you want to be a target, run and show your weakness.

    E Archer, NYC

    Free thought is a death-knell to any fundamentalist ideology whether religious or secular. A totalitarian regime that cannot keep the propaganda flowing will eventually fall. Ideas are powerful, but Truth reigns supreme.

    Mike, Norwalk

    If the quote, on a more broad spectrum (out side a stand alone status and as Archer illuminates) was considered from a Douglas specific epistemology, the quote would have to get a thumbs down a multiple of times. My idea of freedom, liberty, law, justice, rights and morality are far different from Mr. Douglas'. His ideas of freedom are the most powerful elements that are killing Amerika today. Freedom exist at law outside of man. Men have ideas. Men act on ideas. There is a man perceived idea of freedom. When man's ideas harmonize with natural law, freedom is possible (and hopefully realized). Man never forged freedom from his ideas. Douglas is referencing a lie that never was and never will be. Douglas is escalating the ideologue of his religion to enslave the ignorant.

    • Reply
    anonymous    7/11/14

    Too bad we have more ideas than follow-through.

    Scream TERRORISM.

    jim k, austin tx

    I'll go along with E Archer on this one.

    L. Hanson, Edmonton, Canada

    Let's talk about something that we can control now: guns. Texas is an open-carry state. Where were the good guys with guns when Ronald Lee Haskell was murdering his family? Do you think a guy with a history of domestic violence should have been banned from owing or posessing firearms? Maybe that would have helped. So the "Good guy with gun vs. Bad guy with gun" philosophy falls flat.

    Your country needs to control guns now. How many more of these tragedys will you allow to happen before you take real action and instill mandatory background checks and limit clip sizes?

    Ron w13, Or

    To infringe upon the right to bear arms, A house divided will not stand ! Divide the house and disarm the public makes every decent law abiding citizen a prey ! Weapons demand respect, Whether idle or active, as with any tool in the shed. Unprovoked aggression thinks twice ! If a region becomes more lawless, or remote, a show of force is required ! !Bleeding heart socialism in the USA we need less of. Policing one's self and providing your own security is rule # 1. The lazier the public grows, through handouts and video games, TV's and the like, the more the bleeding heart socialist wants to protect the public from their own ignorance. Doctrines of Liberty and Freedom we maintain were never forged by man but Ordained by our Creator as per our Constitution by way of natural law and the laws of nature observed.

    Mike, Norwalk

    Hanson, how about using the greater number of lives that are saved in self defense than are taken illegally ! ! ! That is where the discussion should start, then legitimate ideas can start to come forth. In your example; where were the police when Haskell was murdering his family ? Cops get to kill pretty much at will in Amerika. By your logic we need to take the guns out of the police state's hands. (Actually, I think we should just get rid of the police, they are not much good for any thing else except revenueing and spreading tyranny - bring back personal responsibility and liberty.)

    Ron w13, Or

    Well said Mike !!

    Ron w13, Or

    Archer if fundamentals are foundation. Why contradict our Constitution and our Creator the Higher Power. Get out of intellect and into a Higher power than man ! The God of Nature !! Though secular exist it is the Spirit of God that is life in itself. Faith the most powerful thing in the universe. The Mountain will move ! Seven notes in the scale. : )

    Ron w13, Or

    One thing to be said of socialism in my life time, that is seen. The shorter the skirt the more Violent the time !!! Get a clue of decency ! That is the ( Law of Nature 101) ! Socialism without moral constraint is tyranny. Debauchery At the most ! With consent. The fence sitters in war get shoot. ! Or just plan fall off !! Archer

    cal, Lewisville, Tx

    L Hanson, he got his gun in another state and then came to Texas. Criminals will get their guns illegally when they can't get them legally.

    Mike, Norwalk

    (-; cal, L Hanson would probably want the "he" (any he, she or it) to get one of the guns Mr. Obamunist Goodwrench the assassin and his Czars / Cronies are liquidating down in Mexico to the drug cartels and other criminal types. Then, coming across the border with the rest of the hordes, "he" could get a ride in a government bus to Texas. That way, the "he" is nothing more than another justified government sponsored criminal - killing, raping, pillaging, that makes everything OK; society is made right because there is no more liberty or rights as displayed by no more guns in the hands of the individual sovereign(s) ;-(


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