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Un-American Activities

We witness today perhaps the most widespread suppression of views the country has known. The suppression comes not from fear of being jailed but from fear of being dismissed from employment, banned from radio work, disqualified for teaching, or unacceptable for the lecture platform. Those sanctions are effective and powerful. They often carry as much sting as a fine or a jail sentence . . .

“It is our attitude toward free thought and free expression that will determine our fate. There must be no limit on the range of temperate discussion, no limits on thought. No subject must be taboo. No censor must preside at our assemblies. We need all the ingenuity we possess to avert the holocaust . . .

“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”

~ Justice William O. Douglas


Douglas was an associate justice of the Supreme Court originally nominated by President F. D. Roosevelt. He was the longest serving justice to sit on the court (36 years, and 211 days). The below is excerpted from a speech he gave to the Authors Guild Council upon receiving the 1951 Lauterach Award. It rings more true today than it did in the 1950’s.

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