"We are willing enough to praise freedom
when she is safely tucked away
in the past and cannot be a nuisance.
In the present, amidst dangers
whose outcome we cannot foresee,
we get nervous about her, and admit censorship."
by:
E. M. Forster
(1879-1970) English novelist, short story writer, essayist, and librettist
Source:
Two Cheers for Democracy, 1951
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Reader comments about this quote:
When censorship is mentioned, the so-called "fairness doctrine" comes to mind. The Libs are panting to get rid of conservative talk radio. They can't seem to get anyone to listen to the bilge that airs on such programs as Air America.
 -- jim k, austin     
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    Spot on Forster - Jim why can't you just cool it on the Liberal stuff - you must be a latent Liberal as you mention practically in every post. We have more Rush Limbaugh (who has be the be the hypocrite of all time) and his like who spew hatred and division far more than any liberal discourse. Furthermore, it was liberals who brought about the American Constitution. We now have more socialism in America (bailing out the two biggest mortgage firms - Oh yes, let's socialize our losses) under the GOP than ever before - grow up and know your facts. Jim, you must have a real problem if you live in Austin, the most liberal city in Texas. By the way, Forster was gay and a liberal.
     -- RobertSRQ     
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    Forster is an interesting case, but I agree with the quote. Censorship comes in many forms, even in the form of lost freedoms for perceived safety as the transparency of government gives way to tyranny.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Two cheers for the title of Forester's book. Another authoritative public figure opts fo the D word, democracy that is! And correctly in my view he connects majority rule democracy with freedom.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Hmm, why not 3 cheers for democracy? We're missing one cheer for something. ;-) Yes, freedom is fine for the founders, but today why not be free from freedom -- it is such a burden, and other "authoritative" people know so much better than we what we should do and say -- we mustn't take things into our own hands -- we cannot be trusted. But our elected 'people' (they're different -- not as 'human' as we are so therefore better at regulating our lives than us little 'people') know what to do, and a lot of people apparenty voted for them, so, you know, they are "authoritative public figures" so just do what they say, and if you don't like it, just go along until the next election, and try harder next time to get a better person elected. Gee, Waffler, I think I am seeing the light! ;-) [Back to reality...] Censorship is prohibition and is justified for the same reasons. I could care less about Liberal vs. Conservative -- they are too fuzzy for me. I am liberal with respect to Freedom and conservative with respect to Responsibily. Both the GOP and Demos forward socialism in their respective camps and are beholden to only money and power.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Ha Ha, Waffler, thanks for the laugh... You have to adhere to a modern-day sophist to rely for your asinine ideology. Absolutely hilarious! Too bad you can't produce any founders to "opts fo the D word".
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    The only reason to fear someone else's free speech is if you're a liar. If truth is on your side you can effectively refute any lie (if you aren't censored).
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Robert, Fannie and Freddie were already national socialist institutions and always had been since their creation by FDR. The market distortion that was created by that federal guarantee is why we are where we are today; that and the criminal practices of Clintonite partisans who ran Fannie and Freddie (Gorelick, Raines, et. al.). In addition, threats of industry regulation over "red lining" and just plain old greed by lenders and borrowers, didn't help the situation.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Taking things into our own hands is what electoral politics is all about. Those above who would prefer a different style or idea of what it is to be free should move to a bannana republic or some small African republic and have a go at taking over by force. Everthing is FDR's and Clintons fault. When Clinton left office things were booming except for the tech bubble, now well now things are indescribable. The Enron fiasco was engineered by McCains Texas economic guru. The rest of Bush's buddies were tied in with Abramoff and the Indian Gaming fiasco. McCain and Palin are reforming this crowd (except Palin has a real problem of her own in taking per diem for her work at home*) lets let them stay at it for a few years. Historically per diem is for travel expenses when away from home. So this is what you call reform.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    The outcomes of socialist policies are socialists' fault. GW is nearly as big a socialist as Clinton. What else could his "compassionate conservatism" be if not socialist? Myself, I am looking for rational conservatism/liberalism. People who ignore natural human behavior (the profit motive) will always take us down the road that leads to misery. By the way, Enron failed because Bush failed to sign on to the global warming/carbon credit trading scheme. They were counting on it to make money, and they bet wrong.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    What it is to be free and responsible is not electing other folks to tell us what to do, so get over it, Waffler. Our representatives do not have absolute power -- nor should they. It is only because we have waived our rights by believing that Clinton or Bush or Congress or the police are our 'superiors' that we have become subject to their oppressive policies. We in fact do not have to obey 99% of their nonsense since almost all of today's rules are what we must do IF we want to CONTINUE to get federal funding and entitlements. If we never were dependent upon them to begin with, it wouldn't matter what rules they make about them. Accepting government handouts come with strings attached!! And if all we are doing when we 'elect' (i.e. pick from THEIR list) someone who will make sure I keep getting 'what is owed to me by the government,' then we have already relinquished our freedom, already given up respect for ourselves and everyone else, already sold out to the nanny-state. So-called 'democracy' is in fact not a democracy at all but an autocracy in the guise of democracy. Everyone should have an equal say as to how public services are to be delivered if at all, but too often 'public' issues infringe on 'private' lives. When the 'public' can 'vote' on what 'private' people must do, then is there nothing to stop those who control the 'democratic process' to benefit them financially and politically? Mind your own business! The country is BANKRUPT and in receivership to the Fed. If it were anyone else, we would have to cut 75% of these 'services' and let people just take care of themselves -- what a concept! The government can no more take care of each and everyone of us as it can manage to keep their hands off White House interns. And believe me, their abuses of office have been well censored from public scrutiny.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Interesting observation on Enron Ken. I do not know that part. I only new about the Enron loophole and that that Senator's wife was on the board of Enron.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Sorry, Robert SRQ, I'm a Libertarian and have never been a Lib. As to all this trouble "under the GOP", I believe that the Dems have been in power for the past 2 years. I love Austin and have no trouble living here at all. The Liberals who founded our country were an entirely different breed from the ones who infest our country today. And what on earth does it matter if Forster was gay and liberal. He died 38 years ago and would probably disavow the socialists calling themselves liberals today. Oh, I forget, they are "progressives" now.
     -- jim k, austin     
  •  
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
     
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