"Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the State was to make men free to develop their faculties; and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government. They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secure merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope, and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law - the argument of force in its worst form. Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the Constitution so free speech and assembly should be guaranteed."


- Holmes, dissenting in Whitney v. California

Granted, it sort of annoys me that he couches this all in terms of “the founders thought!” I don’t generally like it when we worship the founders, given that, for example, Jefferson was all about free speech till people said cranky things about him. Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, for goodness sakes. But Holmes can’t really come out and say *I believe* this.

But he does. And so do I.

PS - To clarify, this isn’t meant as a comment on SOPA. Just on free speech.