"We hold that the greatest right in the world is the right to be wrong, that in the exercise thereof people have an inviolable right to express their unbridled thoughts on all topics and personalities, being liable only for the use of that right."
William Randolph Hearst
(1863-1951) American newspaper publisher
Independence League Platform, New York Journal, 1 February 1924
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Reader comments about this quote:
The right to be wrong is clearly a great right. Maybe the quote in context would be more accurate. I believe the right to liberty is more broad in its applications and as such - greater. I believe the right to bear arms (in a non-military status and right to bear regulation in a military setting - militia or otherwise) is greater in that ultimately, it will protect the right to be wrong. So, when considering all rights, the right to be wrong is not the greatest.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Hm ... I'd never thought about a ranking of rights, although we do tend to rank wrongs. Surely somewhere, sometime, someone would have established a non-alphabetical listing of our rights; perhaps beginning with subsets of from whence they come. I'm serious and glad Mike has raised the issue.
     -- Bob, Charlotte, VT     
    Good point about ranking of rights . There is also the question of conflict of ideologies; ideologies whose purpose is to capture the monopoly on the legal use of force.

     -- Walter Clark, Fullerton CA     
    " . . . being liable only for the use of that right." should be followed by . . .Because every single act of government is carried out with force, governments have the unattainable obligation to never be wrong. The continuing question society must face is are the unavoidable wrongs worth whatever it is that government provides? But to answer that, we must find out if what government provides cant be provided in some other way.
     -- Walter Clark, Fullerton CA     
    Hearst should certainly know about the right to be wrong. This is the fellow that said he could create a war and he did by propagandizing the story of the USS Maine in the Havana harbor. The war was the Spanish American War. Some believe that he was responsible for the blast that sank the Maine which is probably not far from wrong. After the Maine was raised, it was discovered that the blast was internal rather than external as Hearst excessively promoted which meant that the Spanish had noting to do with the sinking. Hearst was a champion of being wrong whether intentional or not. Credence to anything this man said would be questionable at best.
     -- Gene, Atlanta, GA     
    Of course the source immediately makes the quote suspect, but on its face sounds about right. But upon deeper reflection ...

    The 'greatest right'? I don't think so. We may have the right to be wrong but not to be free of the consequences of being wrong. With great power comes great responsibility -- little men's mistakes have little impacts, big men's mistakes have big impacts. That's why the massive collective power of the government needs to remain even more distributed -- wielding such power according to the fickle passions of the public creates waves, booms, busts... When will we let nature take its course?

    This type of excuse is meant to distract from the violation of the rights of those impacted by 'being wrong.'
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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