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revised Feb 2006
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Intro & Index page
Separation of church and state.
Rights:

Liberties are not given; they are taken. - Aldous Huxley

**Note to readers - if you have any good quotes, or sources for quotes, on responsibilities please send them to me!**

The American ideal is not that we all agree with each other, or even like each other, every minute of the day. It is rather that we will respect each other's rights, especially the right to be different, and that, at the end of the day, we will understand that we are one people, one country, and one community, and that our well-being is inextricably bound up with the well-being of each and every one of our fellow citizens. - C. Everett Koop,  US Surgeon General

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will. - Frederick Douglass

The enemies of freedom do not argue; they shout and they shoot. - William R. Inge

If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force. -Teresa Nielsen Hayden,  Making Light

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. - Abbot Joseph Liebling, New Yorker magazine, 1960

The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom. - William Orville Douglas, US Supreme Court

We've gotten to the point where everybody's got a right and nobody's got a responsibility. - Newton Minow

They have exiled me now from their society and I am pleased, because humanity does not exile except the one whose noble spirit rebels against despotism and oppression. He who does not prefer exile to slavery is not free by any measure of freedom, truth and duty. - Kahil Gibran, Spirits Rebellious

Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. - Paulo Freire

A cult is a religion with no political power. - Tom Wolfe

A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular. - Adlai Stevenson

TeddyTo announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic, but is morally treasonable to the American public. - Theodore Roosevelt. (thanks, G.B. Trudeau)

...debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open, and...it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks. - U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan

The right to be let alone is the underlying principle of the Constitution's Bill of Rights. - Erwin N. Griswold

...the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others...Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. - John F. Kennedy

I'm not sure which upsets me more: that people are so unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions, or that they are so eager to regulate everyone else's. - Uri Blumenthal

All we have of freedom - all we use or know -
This our fathers bought for us, long and long ago.
- Rudyard Kipling

Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. - Benjamin Franklin

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

All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships. - George Bernard Shaw

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion. - Robert H. Jackson, US Supreme Court Justice

We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person 'to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.' Neither can it constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non- believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs. [School District of Abington TP. PA. v. Schempp/Murray v. Curlett, 1963]

It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error. - Robert H. Jackson

Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought. - Graham Greene

The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. - Frederick Douglass

Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a Freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth. - George Washington, July 2, 1776

The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do. - Eric Hoffer

Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. - Louis Brandeis

Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind. - John Milton

 
Das war ein vorspeil nur;
dort wo man Buecher verbrennt, vebrennt man auch am Ende
Menchen.
That was only a prelude;
Where one burns books,
One will also burn people
eventually.
    - Heinrich Heine


Of course, trusting the government with your privacy is like having a Peeping Tom install your window blinds. - John Perry Barlow

I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. - James Madison

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. - James Madison

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

What if the 2nd Amendment had read 'A literate population, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read books, shall not be infringed'? Would that allow the State to restrict books to libraries or require licenses for their posession? What about exceptionally dangerous or subversive books? - J. Neil Schulman

In a free society, standards of public morality can be measured only by whether physical coercion violence against persons or property occurs. There is no right not to be offended by words, actions or symbols. - Richard E. Sincere, Jr.

The trouble about fighting for human freedom is that you have to spend so much of your life defending sons of bitches; for oppressive laws are always aimed at them originally, and oppression must be stopped in the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. - H.L. Mencken

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law. - Thomas Jefferson, February 10, 1814

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. - Thomas Jefferson

No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. - Thomas Jefferson

That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceful citizens from keeping their own arms. - Samuel Adams, U.S. Constitutional Convention, 1788

I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it. - Voltaire (1694-1778)
    [I am informed that this is a paraphrase by Tallentyre, written as an embodiment of Voltaire's philosophy, rather than an actual (translated) quote.]

Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions... Liberty and responsibility are inseparable. - Friedrich von Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty (1960)

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John G. Diefenbaker

I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous - if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men. - Robert Ingersoll, The Ghosts

Liberty don't work as good in practice as it does in speeches. - Will Rogers

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences. - C. S. Lewis

Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could. - William F. Buckley, Jr.

What are politicians going to tell people when the Constitution is gone and we still have a drug problem? - William Simpson, A.C.L.U.

Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes crimes out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. - Abraham Lincoln

Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished. - HL Mencken, in The American Mercury
 

Yale University has the Avalon web site, with hundreds of historic documents, including the US Constitution.