Censorship and freedom of speech are hot button issues these days. It used to be that censors didn’t have to spend very much effort presenting their argument against free speech. “Say that again and I’ll boil you alive,” although tactless, is effective. But now that people can express their thoughts anonymously – and because they have been corrupted by concepts such as “rights” and “the First Amendment”—speech that threatens the established authorities is becoming increasingly difficult to suppress.

So how do you stop free speech? It’s not so difficult once you get creative. The most important thing an elite must do is convince people that any idea they don’t like is hate speech. Bonus points if they believe speech can equate to violence. Once the hoi polloi begin censoring themselves, you’ll have far more time to devote to what really matters in life: acquiring wealth and power.

It will also help a great deal if the people you rule over are no longer capable of critical thinking. Tackle this quandary in three easy steps. First, portray intellectualism in a negative light in the media. Second, produce endless amounts of mind-numbing media products. (The less stimulating the better.) Third, redesign the education system so it no longer teaches English or mathematics. Before long people won’t even have the capacity to perceive what is disagreeable about the status quo you have cultivated and profit from.

Just remember: As enthusiastically as you would like to persecute every last dissident who shares quotes about freedom of speech online, you’ve got to let a few of them get away with it. It’s easier to rile up your dogs on command when a shadowy threat is still at large somewhere.

Quotes About Free Speech and Censorship

Noam Chomsky

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

– Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky on Free Speech Quotes

This quote, often attributed to Noam Chomsky, elucidates a strategy employed by those in power to maintain control over society. By permitting discussion and disagreement within a predefined range of acceptable viewpoints while censoring or marginalizing dissenting opinions, authorities can effectively suppress radical or transformative ideas. This tactic fosters the illusion of freedom of expression while subtly constraining the potential for meaningful change.

Mark Twain

“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.”

– Mark Twain

Mark Twain on Free Speech Quotes

Mark Twain’s quote ingeniously illustrates the absurdity of censorship by comparing it to denying someone access to something based on the limitations of another. It humorously conveys the idea that restricting information or freedom based on the perceived inability of some individuals to handle it is unreasonable and unjust.

Lord Acton

“Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice.”

– Lord Acton

Lord Acton on Free Speech Quotes

Lord Acton’s quote highlights the inherent dangers of secrecy, even within the administration of justice. It suggests that when decisions are made behind closed doors or information is withheld from public scrutiny, corruption and decay are more likely to occur. Transparency and openness are essential for maintaining integrity and ensuring that justice is truly served.


“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”

– Voltaire

Voltaire on Free Speech Quotes

Voltaire’s quote encapsulates the perilous nature of challenging governmental authority, particularly when it is in the wrong. It underscores the risks individuals face when they oppose the ruling powers, highlighting the potential consequences of speaking out against injustice or corruption.

P.D. James

“I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.”

– P.D. James

P.D. James on Free Speech Quotes

P.D. James’ quote draws a bold parallel between political correctness and fascism, suggesting that the former can stifle freedom of expression in a manner reminiscent of the latter’s oppressive tactics. It evokes a sense of concern and unease, particularly among those who have experienced the devastating impact of fascism firsthand, highlighting the dangers of imposing rigid language norms in society.

Aryeh Neier

“Those who call for censorship in the name of the oppressed ought to recognize it is never the oppressed who determine the bounds of censorship.”

– Aryeh Neier

Aryeh Neier on Free Speech Quotes

Aryeh Neier’s quote astutely observes the irony inherent in calls for censorship purportedly in defense of the oppressed. It suggests that those who advocate for censorship often fail to acknowledge that it is typically wielded by those in power, rather than by the marginalized groups they claim to protect. This insight challenges the notion that censorship serves the interests of the oppressed and underscores the importance of scrutinizing the true motives behind such calls.

Peter McGlouchlin

“Political correctness is a sinister device constructed by the left to cause the negative outcomes of left-wing ideology to never be subject to criticism.”

– Peter McGlouchlinEasy Meat: Inside the British Grooming Gang Scandal

Peter McGlouchlin on Free Speech Quotes

Peter McGlouchlin’s quote asserts that political correctness is utilized by the left as a tool to shield left-wing ideologies from criticism. It implies that by enforcing language and behavior norms, political correctness inhibits open discussion and examination of the negative consequences associated with certain left-leaning policies or beliefs.

Sam Harris

“We (as a society) have to be committed to defending free speech however impolitic, or unpopular, or even wrong because defending that is the only barrier to violence. That’s because the only way we can influence one another short of physical violence is thru speech, thru communicating ideas. The moment you say certain ideas can’t be communicated you create a circumstance where people have no alternative but to go hands on you.”

– Sam Harris, Making Sense with Sam Harris, #67 – Meaning and Chaos

Sam Harris on Free Speech Quotes

Sam Harris’ quote underscores the vital importance of defending free speech, even when it involves unpopular or incorrect ideas. He argues that safeguarding free expression acts as a crucial barrier against resorting to violence as a means of influence. By allowing open communication of ideas, society provides a nonviolent avenue for discourse and persuasion. Restricting certain ideas from being communicated could potentially lead to frustration and aggression, as people feel they have no other recourse to express themselves or challenge prevailing norms.

Ann Althouse

“Why does the left hate free speech? Because they don’t know how to talk about the substantive merits when they are challenged. Having submerged themselves in disciplining each other by denouncing any heretics in their midst, they find themselves overwhelmed and outnumbered in America, where there is vibrant debate about all sorts of things they don’t know how to begin to talk about. They resort to stomping their feet and shouting ‘shut up’… when they aren’t prissily imploring everyone to be ‘civil.’”

– Ann Althouse

Ann Althouse on Free Speech Quotes

Ann Althouse’s quote suggests that some on the left may exhibit hostility towards free speech because they struggle to engage in substantive debate when their ideas are challenged. She argues that by adhering to strict ideological conformity and denouncing dissenters, they limit their ability to effectively articulate their positions in a diverse and open forum. Instead of engaging in constructive dialogue, they may resort to silencing opposing views through dismissiveness or demands for civility, reflecting a discomfort with engaging in robust discussions on contentious topics.

Ray Bradbury

“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.”

– Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury on Free Speech Quotes

Ray Bradbury’s quote metaphorically illustrates the various ways in which censorship and suppression of ideas can occur. It suggests that the act of burning books, traditionally associated with censorship, is just one manifestation of a broader phenomenon where people seek to eradicate or silence dissenting viewpoints. The quote serves as a warning about the pervasive threats to intellectual freedom and the multitude of ways in which information and expression can be stifled.

Winston Churchill

“Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”

– Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill on Free Speech Quotes

Winston Churchill’s quote wryly observes the common hypocrisy surrounding the concept of free speech. While many claim to support it, they often hold a narrow interpretation where they are entitled to express their opinions without repercussions, but view dissenting voices as unacceptable or offensive. It highlights the importance of recognizing that true free speech encompasses both the right to speak and the right to respond, even when the response is critical or challenging.

William F. Buckley

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

– William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley on Free Speech Quotes

William F. Buckley’s quote satirically critiques the inconsistency often observed among liberals who profess to champion diversity of thought but react defensively or disdainfully when confronted with perspectives diverging from their own. It highlights the irony of purported openness to alternative viewpoints being met with surprise or offense, suggesting a lack of genuine tolerance for ideological diversity.

Hugo Black

“Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

– Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black

Hugo Black on Free Speech Quotes

Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black’s quote underscores the critical role of a free and unrestricted press in holding governments accountable. It suggests that without the ability of the press to operate without hindrance, it becomes challenging to uncover and publicize instances of deception or wrongdoing within government institutions. Thus, press freedom is essential for maintaining transparency and accountability in governance.

Theodore Roosevelt

“It is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt on Free Speech Quotes

Theodore Roosevelt’s quote emphasizes the importance of truthfulness as a cornerstone of patriotism. It asserts that withholding or distorting the truth, regardless of the subject, is ultimately harmful to the nation’s welfare. By advocating for honesty in all matters, including the actions and decisions of the president, Roosevelt underscores the duty of citizens to prioritize the integrity of information over blind loyalty to authority.

George Orwell

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it.”

– George Orwell1984

George Orwell on Free Speech Quotes

George Orwell’s quote from “1984” elucidates the insidious nature of Newspeak, the language manipulation tool employed by the authoritarian regime in the novel. It reveals that the ultimate goal of Newspeak is to limit the range of ideas that can be expressed by systematically eradicating words and concepts that oppose the regime’s ideology. By eliminating the vocabulary necessary for critical thought, the regime seeks to render dissent and independent thinking impossible, thereby consolidating its power and control over the population.

Johan Norberg

“The right to speak freely does not include the right to be taken seriously.  And it certainly doesn’t include the obligation that others must supply you with a platform.”

– Johan Norberg

Johan Norberg on Free Speech Quotes

This quote suggests that while individuals have the right to express their opinions freely, it does not guarantee that their views will be regarded as valid or receive a platform for dissemination. It underscores the distinction between the freedom to speak and the expectation of being listened to or given a platform, highlighting that the responsibility to provide a platform lies with others who may or may not choose to do so based on their own discretion.

John Stossel

Stossel: “If somebody wants to be called Ze or Zir, why not?”

Peterson: “I don’t care what people want to be called, that’s fine.  But that doesn’t mean I should be compelled by law to call them that.  The government has absolutely no business whatsoever ever governing the content of your voluntary speech.”

Stossel: “But if I personally said I’d like you to call me Ze or Zen?”

Peterson: “We could have a conversation about that.  Just like I would if you asked me to use a nickname for example.  But there’s a big difference between privately negotiated modes of address.  And legislatively demanded compelled speech.”

– John Stossel interviewing Jordan Peterson

John Stossel on Free Speech Quotes

This conversation between John Stossel and Jordan Peterson delves into the distinction between personal choice and government-enforced speech regulations. Peterson acknowledges individuals’ rights to choose their preferred pronouns or forms of address but emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between voluntary compliance and legally mandated speech. He argues against government intervention in dictating language usage, advocating for private negotiation rather than legislative enforcement of speech.