Oct. 2 – “I disapprove of what you say, but…”

On Oct. 2, 1789, George Washington proposed the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, called the Bill of Rights. Some of these rights have become mostly forgotten: few people worry about violations of the third amendment¬† prohibiting the quartering of soldiers in homes; speedy and public trials (6th amendment) are not disputed, nor the right to a jury trial (7th amendment). But some continue to generate considerable controversy. One, in particular, is the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. A famous statement in this regard is often attributed to Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. The American Civil Liberties Union has long been at the forefront of defending, especially, the free speech rights of those with unpopular opinions. Possibly their most famous case occurred in 1977, when they defended the rights of neo-Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois, a Chicago suburb with a large Jewish population. Watch the following video, an interview with David Hamlin of the ACLU, explaining their principles and how they distinguish between defending someone’s rights, and agreeing with their principles:


  1. Do you agree with Hamlin that it is possible to distinguish between supporting someone’s right to speak, and endorsing their opinions?
  2. How important is it to you to live in a country where those with minority viewpoints are defended against the majority?
  3. Compared to other rights, how important is free speech to you?
Image Citation:

26, Sept. 2018, Bill of Rights . Retrieved from <google.com>.

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