"A people who extend civil liberties only to preferred groups
start down the path either to dictatorship of the right or the left."
Justice William O. Douglas
(1898-1980), U. S. Supreme Court Justice
Obituary, New York Times, 20 January 1980
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Joe, Rochester, MI      
That's strange. I would have said that such a people had already arrived at dictatorship.
 -- David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood, FL     
    The fact that we have arrived at a dictatorship does not negate the truth of the quotation. We have simply let the small group of the rich and powerful brain wash the majority to follow the path to dictatorship of the right.
     -- Dick, Fort Worth     
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    A truthful quote tailor made for the same sex marriage ban.
     -- Jason, Santa Cruz     
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     -- Anonymous     
     -- Anonymous      
    A strange day when I agree with both David and Dick. Jason from Santa Cruz. Would you expand on your statement ? Are you in favor of governmental licensing over all religion's sacraments ? OR, are you saying; "A people who extend civil liberties" are dictators, having already considered themselves as the gods. I'm not quite sure how to rate this quote because, it starts out on a false premise - a people who extend civil liberties are already dictators, believing themselves as the gods (all rights are inalienable - not to be extended or taken away). Distinguishing between preferred groups for anything is nothing more than an existing path traveled, now existing as a dictator's club, both of the right (fascists, neo-cons, etc.) and of the left (communists, progressives, etc.).
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Justice William Douglas was a word smith that used noble phraseology mixed with tenants of tyrants. Coming out of Douglas' mouth made what ever was said suspect at best.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    He should know. He was of the far left.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
    It seems that there are some who truly don't get the meaning of Justice William Douglas' quote.
    Our U.S. Constitution is what it is .... this nation's ONLY Supreme Rule of Law .. which promotes equal justice for all and not just for a privileged few. "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" does not grant the lawful authority for government to create 'Affirmative Action' for a select few, or create convoluted laws such as "Hate Crime" .. because a crime is a crime no matter whether the crime is committed by a bigot.
     -- Mary - MI     
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    Good points made by all -- I agree with David on this one. Of course those on the left think it is a right-wing dictatorship while those on the right call it a socialist (left-wing) dictatorship. I think if Americans should remember that our form of government is to protect individual liberty not extend special dispensations to influential groups at the expense of non-consenting citizens.

    The difference is between individualism vs. statism, not right vs. left. We've had as much dictatorship under Bush than we have had under Obama -- the mistake is not seeing that they are both on the statist side which most resembles fascism more than anything else. Of course the left say fascism is of the right, and the right says fascism is of the left -- was Hitler a right-wing dictator or left-wing dictator? Look when you have a dictator, you have someone using the power of the state to force the citizens to obey -- does it matter if it is from the left or the right? Same as in the US today. What we need to get rid of is the statists and the mindset of collectivism -- a tall order indeed.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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