Radio, Television and Society

By Charles A. Siepmann | Go to book overview

IX FREEDOM OF SPEECH: IN THEORY
'The essence of our political theory in this country is that a man's conscience shall be a private, not a public affair, and that only his deeds and words shall be open to survey, to censure and to punishment. The idea is a decent one, and it works . . . One need only watch totalitarians at work to see that once men gain power over other men's minds, that power is never used sparingly and wisely, but lavishly and brutally and with unspeakable results. If I must declare today that I am not a Communist, tomorrow I shall have to testify that I am not a Unitarian. And the day after, that I have never belonged to a dahlia club. It is not a crime to believe anything at all in America.'

-- E. B. WHITE, in the New York Herald Tribune, 2 December, 1947


THE DANGER OF DOGMA

FREEDOM, like democracy, is a word so mutiliated by reiterated mouthing that it threatens to become as shapeless and as devoid of flavor as a piece of chewed gum. This is due partly to the general debasement of language in our time, and partly to the vogue of patenting one's own, private concept of freedom and foisting it on everybody else. We lend ourselves the more readily to this fashion for its being characteristic of human kind.

The disposition of mankind, whether as rulers or as fellow citizens, to impose their own opinions and inclinations as a rule of conduct on others, is so energetically supported by some of the best and by

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