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Epigraphs on First Amendment Law and Related Topics:

I'm looking for interesting or amusing epigraphs for various sections of my First Amendment textbook — quotes from books or poems that touch on the topic but from a nonlegal perspective. Here are some examples:

  1. From the section on advocacy of violent conduct:
    They never told the [raging] crowd to [flay] a woman's hide,
    They never marked a man for death—what fault of theirs he died? --
    They only said 'intimidate,' and talked and went away --
    By God, the boys that did the work were braver men than they!
    Their sin it was that fed the fire — small blame to them that heard --
    The boys get drunk on rhetoric, and madden at a word — ...
    If words are words, or death is death, or powder sends the ball,
    [They] spoke the words that sped the shot — the curse be on [them] all.
    -- Rudyard Kipling, "Cleared"
  2. From the section on Communist advocacy:
    Sam Goldwyn said, 'How'm I gonna do decent pictures when all my good writers are in jail?' Then he added, the infallible Goldwyn, 'Don't misunderstand me, they all ought to be hung.' Mr. Goldwyn didn't know about 'hanged.' That's all there is to say.
    -- Dorothy Parker, Interview, in Writers at Work
  3. From the section on fighting words:
    Trampas (Walter Huston): "Now who's talkin' to you?"
    Virginian (Gary Cooper): "I'm talking to you, Trampas."
    Trampas: "When I want to know anything from you I'll tell you, you long-legged son-of-a-—."
    Virginian pulls out gun.
    Virginian: "If you want to call me that, smile."
    Trampas: "With a gun against my belly I — I always smile."
    -- Owen Wister, The Virginian
I don't insist that I agree with the sentiment behind the epigraph (if there is such a sentiment), so long as I think it's interesting or amusing.

Can any of you suggest such epigraphs that are related to various free speech issues, religious freedom issues, church-state issues, and the like? If so, please post them in the comments. Thanks!

UPDATE: Let me a bit more specific: I'm not looking for stirring defenses of free speech, or other aphorisms about how religiosity or speech or skepticism or whatever else is important. I'd prefer things that are funny or wry, or that otherwise illustrate some aspect of the topic without simply announcing an ideological position. The Kipling quote shows that I don't mind things that do express a view, though even that was meant as a commentary on one particular form of incitement, not about free speech theory generally.

John Beukema (mail):
For a discussion of the power of the press, you might consider the quip of Stanley Baldwin, of all people (I used to think it was Churchill, but, alas,it isn't): "Ah, the press. Power without responsibility -- the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages." This is a bit of a paraphrase, I think, but I don't have my Quotable Baldwin handy.
3.8.2005 3:10pm
Anonymous Coward:
I doubt this will work, but I was reminded of this joke:

Q: How does the Polish Constitution differ from the American?
A: Under the Polish Constitution citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech, but under the United States constitution they are guaranteed freedom after speech.
-- allegedly told in Poland circa 1987
3.8.2005 3:12pm
Richard Bellamy (mail):
"I've never quibbled
If it was ribald.
I would devour
Where others merely nibbled.
As the judge remarked the day that he acquitted my Aunt Hortense,
'To be smut
It must be ut-
Terly without redeeming social importance.'"

--Tom Lehrer
3.8.2005 3:16pm
Richard Bellamy (mail):
"The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less."

--Arthur Miller, "The Crucible"
3.8.2005 3:38pm
Nick Carter (mail):
I like to use "freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion."
Also, when it comes to people bending law because of emotion:
"And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast—man's laws, not God's—and if you cut them down—and you're just the man to do it—d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? "
A Man For All Seasons by Thomas More (Act One, scene seven)
3.8.2005 3:45pm
M.F. (mail):
"In our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either." —Mark Twain (I think)

"No nation ancient or modern ever lost the liberty of freely speaking, writing, or publishing their sentiments, but forthwith lost their liberty in general and became slaves." -John P. Zenger

"If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all." - Noam Chomsky

"People hardly ever make use of the freedom they have. For example, the freedom of thought. Instead they demand freedom of speech as a compensation." - Soren Kierkegaard

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." - Benjamin Franklin
3.8.2005 3:51pm
Bob Woolley (mail):
Some thoughts I've used as email signature files over the years. Their relevance to first amendment issues is in the eye of the beholder.

"One of the truths we hold to be self-evident is that a government
that tells its citizens what they may *say* will soon be dictating
what they may *think*. But in a country that puts such a high premium
on freedom, we cannot allow ourselves to be the captives of orthodox,
culturally imposed thinking patterns. Indeed, I can conceive no im-
prisonment so complete, no subjugation so absolute, no debasement so
abject as the enslavement of the mind."

--Justice Janice R. Brown, California Supreme Court,
dissenting in *Aguilar v. Avis*


"Truth may be stretched but cannot be broken, and always
gets above falsehood, as oil does above water."

-- Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616)


"Trying to say something interesting can be
more trouble than it's worth."

-- Michael Kinsley, 1/7/02 column



"Having attacked the First Amendment with his bill to regulate
political speech and the Second Amendment with his campaign
against the nonexistent gun-show loophole, word has it that
Sen. John McCain is going for the hat trick: He plans to
introduce legislation requiring Americans to quarter troops in
their houses in times of peace."

-- Tim Slagle



"The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most
daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to
tell them the truth."

-- H. L. Mencken


A pun does not commonly justify a blow in return. But if a blow were given for such cause, and death ensued, the jury would be judges both of the facts and of the pun, and might, if the latter were of an aggravated character, return a verdict of justifiable homicide.

-- Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr.



There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well
please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take
the consequences.

--P.J. O'Rourke



Society imposes insults that must be borne, comforted by the knowledge that in this world there comes a time when the most humble of men, if he keeps his eyes open, can take his revenge upon the most powerful.

--Mario Puzo



I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.

-- John Wayne, as J.B. Books, in "The Shootist" (1976)



"Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize on it."

-- Mark Twain



"Familiarize yourself with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you."

-- Abraham Lincoln



"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
3.8.2005 4:03pm
Avi:
It seems to a young rabbi of Chabad,

That the Constitution is exceedingly odd;

To protect all speech in a public place

On AIDS, abortion, or race,

But to prohibit any person's mention of God.

CHABAD-LUBAVITCH OF GEORGIA v. MILLER, 5 F.3d 1383, n. 17 (11th Cir. 1993)
3.8.2005 4:57pm
Tony Zbaraschuk (mail) (www):
Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert? . . . I think that in such a case, to silence the agitator, and save the boy, is not only constitutional, but, withal, a great mercy.

--Abraham Lincoln
3.8.2005 5:01pm
Misanthronomicon (www):
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences."
C. S. Lewis

[I]ncreasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron.
John Perry Barlow, "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace," February 6, 1996

The twentieth century was one in which limits on state power were removed in order to let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abattoir…. We Americans are the only ones who didn't get creamed at some point during all of this. We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and value systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we have lost touch with those intellectuals.
Neal Stephenson, "In the Beginning was the Command Line"
3.8.2005 5:26pm
Michael Newman:
Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders
than the arguments of its opposers.
—William Penn

It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.
—T.H. Huxley

Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving in words evidence of the fact. --George Eliot
3.8.2005 5:30pm
just me:
"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds."

Bob Marley, "Redemption Song."

I also like side-by-side quotes from McCain-Feingold and the Alien and Sedition Act - I don't have the time to google it now, but I've seen snapshots that reveal some great similarities.
3.8.2005 5:30pm
David Weinstein (mail):
On the issue of obscenity:


Helen: You've got to lead our protest against this abomination!
[shows newspaper article]
Marge: Mm, but that's Michelangelo's David. It's a masterpiece.
Helen: [gasp] It's filth! It graphically portrays parts of the human body,
which, practical as they may be, are evil.
Marge: But I like that statue.
Helen: [gasp] I told you she was soft on full frontal nudity!
Come on, girls...
-- ``Itchy and Scratchy and Marge'
3.8.2005 5:48pm
CatherineSeipp (mail) (www):
Re public decency: I think this is a Clerihew, but I'm not sure:

An old person of Troy
Was so prudish and coy
That it doesn't know yet
If it's a girl or a boy
3.8.2005 6:04pm
Ken (mail) (www):
"All great truths begin as blasphemies." -- G.B. Shaw
3.8.2005 6:17pm
Troy Hinrichs:
A little Ogden Nash never hurts either... for cases dealing with signage, billboards, etc.

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all.
from Song of the Open Road
3.8.2005 6:26pm
MF:
Oldie but a goodie:

Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2

Antony: You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And since you are men, if you hear Caesar's will,
It will excite you, it will make you mad.
It's good that you don't know that you are his heirs,
Because if you did, what would happen?

. . . .

4th Citizen: Oh traitors, villans!
1st Citizen: O most bloody sight!
2nd Citizen: We will get revenge.
All: Revenge! Look around! Seek! Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay! Don't let a traitor live!

. . . .

Antony: Now let it work. Mischief, you are loose.
Take whatever you want.
3.8.2005 8:01pm
Alaska Jack:
I've always liked this Twain quote from Huckleberry Finn, though it pertains more to actions than to speech:

Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow
to let me. But she wouldn't. She said it was a mean
practice and wasn't clean, and I must try to not do it
any more. That is just the way with some people.
They get down on a thing when they don't know
nothing about it. Here she was a-bothering about
Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to any-
body, being gone, you see, yet finding a power of
fault with me for doing a thing that had some good in
it. And she took snuff, too; of course that was all
right, because she done it herself.
3.8.2005 8:43pm
Cory (mail):
The argument they used was that it sufficed for the condemnation of my book that I had presumed to read it in public without the approval of either the Roman Pontiff or of the Church, and that, furthermore, I had given it to many to be transcribed. Methinks it would be a notable blessing to the Christian faith if there were more who displayed a like presumption.
Peter Abelard, History of My Calamities (1140)

If your textbook covers things kept secret for reasons of national security, this medieval quote on Greek fire might be worthwhile:

This fire was revealed and taught to the great First Emperor of the Christians, Constantine (as we are fully assured by ancient fathers and divines) by an angel from heaven, who gave him emphatic instructions to the effect that this weapon is only to be manufactured among Christians- nowhere else -and only in that city where they have their capital, and absolutely nowhere else. Under no circumstances is any sample of the substance or the formula to be transmitted to any other nation. It was for the purpose of keeping this secret under his successors that the same Constantine had placed upon the high altar of the Great Church itself an inscription to the effect that anyone who dares to give a sample of said fire to any other nation forfeits thereby the name of Christian and the right to hold any government office, that such an one should be stripped of any office he holds, be declared anathema forever and ever, and be made a public example- even though he be the Emperor or the Patriarch himself, or any other high official .. any attempt to break this rule must incur the penalty. And he calls upon all who have the cause and fear of God at heart to treat anyone acting in a contrary way as a Public Enemy and a traitor to this supreme order, and to consign him to the most humiliating and painful death possible. It actually happened once (for there are always criminal types) that one of our generals accepted a huge bribe from a number of foreign powers to provide them with a sample of this fire; but God, who would not suffer such a crime to be perpetrated ... smote the offender with fire from heaven ... and from that day no one, whether Emperor, prince, commoner, army officer, or any mortal, has ever dared think of such an act, let alone making any attempt to perpetrate it.
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, 13, quoted in Hugh Nibley, "The Unsolved Loyalty Problem: Our Western Heritage", Western Political Quarterly 6/4 631-57.

You obviously won't want to use the whole thing, but if your book covers the subject you might use part of it.
3.8.2005 8:59pm
Ben (mail):
For the section on religious freedom, I like this one from former Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long (Huey's little brother) :

"I consider myself 40 percent Catholic and 60 percent Baptist. but I'm in favor of every religion, with the possible exception of snake-chunking. Anybody that so presumes on how he stands with Providence that he will let a snake bite him, I say he deserves what he's got coming to him. "
3.8.2005 10:37pm
Joshua:
For the section on establishment of religion:


When I mention religion, I mean the Christian religion; and not only the Christian religion, but the Protestant religion; and not only the Protestant religion, but the Church of England.

--Mr. Thwackum, in Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
3.8.2005 11:22pm
Troy Hinrichs:
Perhaps the opening line of Poe's short story

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge."
- Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado
3.9.2005 12:02am
fub (mail):
Apropos the issue of defining religion or religious belief for free exercise and establishment doctrine::

...Some to church repair
Not for the doctrine, but the music theee.

-- Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism


Whenever God erects a house of prayer,
Tyhe Devil always builds a chapel there;
And 'twill be found upon examination,
The latter has the largest congregation.

-- Daniel Defoe The True-Born Englishman
3.9.2005 1:38am
Jeff Silver (mail):
Twain's been mentioned above. Here he is again:

It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them. (from Pudd'nhead Wilson)
3.9.2005 8:51am
John Crichton:
There was a young lawyer named Rex
Who was very deficient in sex.
When charged with exposure,
He said with composure,
"De minimis non curat lex!"
3.9.2005 11:52am
CatherineSeipp (mail) (www):
The "Clerihew" I listed earlier is actually an Ogden Nash "limick," just for the record. I also like this one, about justice in general:

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella
But mostly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just's umbrella.

(This is sometimes attributed to Sen. Sam Ervin, but actually it is by Lord Bowen, whom I guess Ervin was quoting.)
3.9.2005 1:32pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Numerous portions of Tom Lehrer's "Obscenity" could be used for an epigraph.

Here are the full lyrics, in what appears from my memory to be an accurate transcription (copyright Tom Lehrer)

I do have a cause though. It is obscenity. I'm for it. Unfortunately, the civil liberties types who are fighting this issue have to fight it owing to the nature of the laws as a matter of freedom of speech and stifling of free expression and so on but we know what's really involved: dirty books are fun. That's all there is to it. But you can't get up in a court and say that I suppose. It's simply a matter of freedom of pleasure, a right which is not guaranteed by the Constitution unfortunately. Anyway, since people seem to be marching for their causes these days, I have here a march for mine. It's called...

Smut!
Give me smut and nothing but!
A dirty novel I can't shut,
If it's uncut,
and unsubt- le.

I've never quibbled
If it was ribald,
I willingly devoured where others merely nibbled.
As the judge remarked the day that he
acquitted my Aunt Hortense,
"To be smut
It must be ut-
Terly without redeeming social importance."

Por-
Nographic pictures I adore.
Indecent magazines galore,
I like them more
If they're hard core.

(Bring on the obscene movies, murals, postcards, neckties,
samplers, stained-glass windows, tattoos, anything!
More, more, I'm still not satisfied!)

Stories of tortures
Used by debauchers,
Lurid, licentious, and vile,
Make me smile.
Novels that pander
To my taste for candor
Give me a pleasure sublime.
(Let's face it, I love slime.)

All books can be indecent books
Though recent books are bolder,
For filth (I'm glad to say) is in
the mind of the beholder.
When correctly viewed,
Everything is lewd.
(I could tell you things about Peter Pan,
And the Wizard of Oz, there's a dirty old man!)

I thrill
To any book like Fanny Hill,
And I suppose I always will,
If it is swill
And really fil-
thy.

Who needs a hobby like tennis or philately?
I've got a hobby: rereading Lady Chatterley.
But now they're trying to take it all
away from us unless
We take a stand, and hand in hand
we fight for freedom of the press.
In other words,

Smut! (I love it)
Ah, the adventures of a slut.
Oh, I'm a market they can't glut,
I don't know what
Compares with smut.

Hip hip hooray!
Let's hear it for the Supreme Court!
Don't let them take it away!


As a note for those unfamiliar with the song, the introductory paragraph is spoken rather than sung.

If you want an epigraph concerning freedom of conscience, I recommend Galileo's "Eppur, si muove". [English translation is normally "And yet, it moves."]

For commercial speech, I have two suggestions.

"This way to the egress." was the call of P.T. Barnum's carnival barkers paid to trick people into leaving.

Month Python's "Dead Parrot Sketch" included the following passage (Mr. Praline, the customer, was played by John Cleese):

Mr. Praline: Um...now look...now look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
3.9.2005 3:42pm
Cory (mail):
When Senator Smoot, of Utah, sought to increase restrictions on pornography, Ogden Nash wrote the following:

Oh rooti-ti-toot for Smoot of Ut.
And his reverent occiput.
Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
Grit your molars and hold your dut.,
Gird up your l--ns,
Smite h-p and th-gh,
We'll all be Kansas
By and by.
3.9.2005 4:01pm
Elisson (mail) (www):
A First Amendment Epigraph

Christian or Muslim, Muslim or Jew -
The difference depends upon your point of view.
Step far enough back, and that alien "other"
Starts in to lookin' more like your brother.
When the little green men come from outer space,
They won't ask to whom you pray or note the color of your face.
To them we'll just be Humans - prey to be destroyed,
By the Bug-Eyed Monsters from the Outer Void.
And will God shed a tear? Will He say "Boo-Hoo"?
Well, the bug-eyed dudes are His children, too.
So we'd better stick together in our Earthly stew,
'Cause the difference depends upon your point of view.
3.10.2005 12:35pm
Patricia (mail) (www):
Here's a couple:

(for bloggers>) Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.
A.J. Liebling

Numerous politicians have seized absolute power and muzzled the press. Never in history has the press seized absolute power and muzzled the politicians.
David Brinkley (1920 - 2003)
3.10.2005 10:29pm
Pete (mail):
GK Chesterton via Quote DB:

"When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws."

"'My country, right or wrong' is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'"

"Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God."

"Anyone who is not an anarchist agrees with having a policeman at the corner of the street; but the danger at present is that of finding the policeman half-way down the chimney or even under the bed."

"Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable."

"Most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities."

"The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog."
3.12.2005 12:52pm