Signs of the Times

The Rights and Liberty of Man

The Colonist
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Wise men in all ages have known the value of free speech, which has brought to man most of his civil liberties. Free discussion turns up error, and shows it for the sham that it is. The truth stands upon its own feet, and always will. It is only error that has to be propped. Thomas Jefferson, who reasoned many things with his own ripe mind, once put it this way:

"Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error, and of error only. The Newtonian principle of gravitation is now more firmly established, on the basis of reason, than it would be were the government to step in, and to make it an article of necessary faith. Reason and experiment have been indulged and error has fled before them. It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature."

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April 15, 1944

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