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Freedom of Speech Quotes on Protecting our First Amendment Right

Take a look at these freedom of speech quotes that truly demonstrate the importance of unfettered expression.

Do you feel that you are listened to? Everyone deserves to be heard, but sometimes it is easy to feel like our voices get drowned out.

When people think about their perceived “freedom of speech”, many aspects of that right are misunderstood and the limits are often overlooked.

Contrary to some people’s belief, the 1st Amendment is not a permission slip to recklessly harass people or go around sharing false information. For example, any words that are determined to promote incitement, defamation, fraud, obscenity, or are deemed fighting words or threats are not protected under the 1st Amendment.

In this piece, you will find quotes from those with full impunity to say what they want to those who are under-represented and too often silenced.

Hopefully, you will find inspiration or at the very least, food for thought in these freedom of speech quotes.

Don’t forget to also check out these freedom quotes on destiny, leadership and independence.

Freedom of speech quotes from writers

1. “Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.” – Henry Louis Gates

2. “You win a debate with a better argument, not by force.” – Frank Sonnenberg

3. “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell

4. “Sometimes a people lose their right to remain silent when pressured to remain silent.” –Criss Jami

5. I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall

6. “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.” – Oscar Wilde

7. “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”- John Milton

8. “It’s not unpatriotic to denounce an injustice committed on our behalf, perhaps it’s the most patriotic thing we can do.”- E.A Bucchianeri

9. “Ultimately, saying that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different from saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say.” – Edward Snowden

10. “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.” – William O. Douglas

11. “Freedom of speech is unnecessary if the people to whom it is granted do not think for themselves.” – Mokokoma Mokhonoana

12. “Free speech is unthinkable. All other kinds of freedom are permitted. You are free to be a drunkard, an idler, a coward, a backbiter, a fornicator; but you are not free to think for yourself.” – George Orwell

13. “Hot weather brings out snakes and slaveholders, and I like one class of the venomous creatures as little as I do the other. What a comfort it is, to be free to say so!” – Harriet Jacobs

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14. “If my freedom of speech hurts your sentiment, no doubt you are SentiMental” ― Dr. P.S. Jagadeesh Kumar

15. “Having the freedom of speech doesn’t mean saying whatever you want, it means saying what’s humane, hateless and non-prejudicial.”― Abhijit Naskar

16. “I am well acquainted with all the arguments against freedom of thought and speech – the arguments which claim that it cannot exist, and the arguments which claim that it ought not to. I answer simply that they don’t convince me and that our civilisation over a period of four hundred years has been founded on the opposite notice.” – George Orwell

17. “Freedom of speech is a fallacy, it is not absolute. It can be hailed absolute only if the person possessing it, has the conscience to distinguish the right from the wrong, justice from injustice, acceptance from discrimination.” ― Abhijit Naskar

Freedom of speech quotes from politicians

18. “There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech.” – Idi Amin

19. “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” – Ben Franklin

20. “Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.” – Thomas Jefferson

21. “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” – George Washington

22. “Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.” – Ben Franklin

23. “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” – Harry Truman

Freedom of Speech quotes from Inspired Women

24. “Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.” – St. Catherine of Sienna

25. “The thing about freedom is that it defines its own borders.” – Laura Chouette

26. “Having a free press doesn’t mean anyone cares.” – Nell Zink

27. “Cancel culture is a term bounced around by people afraid of accountability. But freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.” – Monisha Rajesh

28. “To view the opposition as dangerous is to misunderstand the basic concepts of democracy. To oppress the opposition is to assault the very foundation of democracy.” – Aung San Suu Kyi

29. “The opinion that one cannot express an opinion, however potentially harmful, is the most dangerous of all.” – Luigina Sgarro

30. “Censors never go after books unless kids already like them. I don’t even think they know to go after books until they know that children are interested in reading this book, therefore there must be something in it that’s wrong.” – Judy Blume

31. “I know what it’s like to live in a place where people have no choices. What happens in a world like that, when you’re unable to speak out against something you think is wrong?” – Mary Lu

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32. “The more you talk about something or someone or prevent them from expressing themselves, the more you give them strength, even – and perhaps above all – when you talk about them badly.”- Luigina Sgarro

33. “When my brothers try to draw a circle to exclude me, I shall draw a larger circle to include them. Where they speak out for the privileges of a puny group, I shall shout for the rights of all mankind.” – Pauli Murrag

34. “What else do we have to expose and investigate corruption and maintain informed citizenry? When all levels of government and justice system are abusing power, where can people go with claims of that abuse? Only the press.” – JoeAnn Hart

35. “The right to have the freedom of speech is a high Good, which is there to express ones thoughts and emotions to others in any manner without having to fear to be punished for.” –Vivian Schey

36. The only effective way that I know of to fight an idea that we believe to be potentially damaging to our values, principles, ideals, is to try to support the validity of alternative points of view.”- Luigina Sgarro

37. “Education is the way to move mountains, to build bridges, to change the world. Education is the path to the future. I believe that education is indeed freedom.”- Oprah Winfrey

Freedom of Speech Quotes about Children 

38. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss

39. “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”— Margaret Mead

40. “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”— Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

41. “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”— Margaret Mead

42. “Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.”- Jess Lair

LBGTQ Community Members on the Freedom of Speech 

43. “If I wait for someone else to validate my existence, it will mean that I’m shortchanging myself.” – Zanele Muholi

44. “It is absolutely imperative that every human being’s freedom and human rights are respected, all over the world.”– Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

45. “I am proud, that I found the courage to deal the initial blow to the hydra of public contempt.” – Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

46. “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.” – Audre Lorde

47. “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” – Bayard Rustin

48. “If a transvestite doesn’t say I’m gay and I’m proud and I’m a transvestite, then nobody else is going to hop up there and say I’m gay and I’m proud and I’m a transvestite for them.” – Marsha P. Johnson

49. “Only by speaking out can we create lasting change. And that change begins with coming out.” – Deshane Stokes

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50. “It is against this God who kills that we are fighting and resisting.” – Alexya Salvador

Freedom of speech quotes about its importance

51. “Freedom of speech is a human right and the foundation upon which democracy is built. Any restriction of freedom of speech is a restriction upon democracy.” –Deeyah Khan

52. “We have freedom of speech, but you got to watch what you say.” –Tracy Morgan

53. “Freedom of speech and thought matters, especially when it is speech and thought with which we disagree. The moment the majority decides to destroy people for engaging in thought it dislikes, thought crime becomes a reality.” –Ben Shapiro

54. “We all have the right of freedom of speech under the First Amendment. We all don’t have to agree with one another on our opinions. Everyone in my circle, that I run around with, we all feel the same about God, country, integrity and character.” –Luke Scott

55. “Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion all have a double aspect – freedom of thought and freedom of action.” –Frank Murphy

56. “While people can differ on the issues, no one should seek to discourage freedom of speech.” –Stan Van Gundy

57. “Standing up for what you believe in, to me, is freedom of speech. And that’s a right that every American citizen has and what makes this country great.” –Will Muschamp

58. “There is no ageism or ‘youthism’ when it comes to freedom of speech. We are all citizens.” -Jacques Parizeau

59. “Being offended by freedom of speech should never be regarded as a justification for violence.” –Alan Dershowitz

60. “I fight, and have fought, for political freedom, for justice and for fairness and freedom of speech.” –Teresa Heinz

What did you learn from these freedom of speech quotes?

Most people would agree that the freedom to express themselves without hindrance is important to them. As humans, we are innately creative beings and it is natural to desire full autonomy in how we choose to express ourselves.

However, we do live in a world where our expressions are accountable to the audiences we address. Even though many people are well-intentioned in their speech, as a collective, we are all evolving how we address ourselves and each other. It says a lot about humanity that more and more people are getting to share their voices.

After reading the expressions of those who have experienced the challenge of sharing their voice regardless of the difficulty, what do you think? Do you feel free or limited in how you express yourself? If there are limitations, are they self-imposed or from an outside source? These are all great questions we can ask ourselves when thinking about our own freedom of speech.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these freedom of speech quotes and sayings? Do you have any other inspirational quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Clifton Sankofa
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