"There are two kinds of restrictions on human liberty --
the restraint of law and that of custom.
No written law has ever been more binding than
unwritten custom supported by popular opinion."
Speech, 8 February 1900
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Reader comments about this quote:
I would add intolerance and ignorence - perhaps that falls under custom?
 -- Robert, Sarasota     
    Though republicans and democrats are the same party in different rhetoric, most people feel obligated to vote for one of these two parties because their parents did. I challenge you to investigate the Libertarian and other parties, then vote the party that most represents your views. As long as republi-crats run this country, your taxes will increase, government will become more intrusive, and we will continue to poke our noses into the internal business other countries that don't concern us.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
    Law, when defined as the absolute that it is, and properly applied, protects liberty. Restraint is a concept more closely associated with justice. Beyond the concept 'my rights end where your nose begins' is tyranny. Any free man's actions that are restrained, compelled, or otherwise forcefully manipulated is done contrary to law. Custom, as an intricate element of 'Common Law' is a lawful study and application of certain scenarios or given circumstances. When the 'custom' becomes obtrusive or otherwise abusive to the individual, in any lawful way, 'custom' has then crossed over the line and become unlawful.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    "Binding" is too strong a word, but the basic jest is valid.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
    As Einstein said "the only constant factor in the Universe is change" and that applies to all things - the absolute that exists is in form only. A persons Liberty is only determined by laws that reflect social harmony and that my dear friends is a longway from being availble to all mankind. There are unjust laws and there are just laws - the book of laws will never be absolute.
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
    The theory that life would improve without any restrictions on human liberty is disproven by the tendency to ignore those restrictions and ruin life.
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
    I would disagree. The greatest restraint upon human actions is neither law nor custom. It is conscience. That is why, to have a free people, we must also have a moral people. One of the biggest problems with society today is the lack of personal morality which guides the individual to do the right thing, i.e. to love one's neighbor more than oneself. Despite all of the flaws of organized religion (flawed, of course, because it is made up of men) it is that more than anything else which has established the morality of conscience in individuals because the source of the morality is greater than capricious human beings. That is why the religion of liberalism will never instill moral values in men. Liberalism worships men.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    There are just laws, unjust laws, and too many laws. Among the worst laws of all is Asset Forfeiture, passed by our congress, which allows cops to steal your property without your having committed a crime.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
    The reason the government gets away with as much as it does is because of popular opinion. Custom and tradition are relatively invisible barriers -- to break them is taboo, no matter what the statute.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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