Freedom of the Press and Responsible Speech

On this day, July 8, 1889, the “Wall Street Journal” begins publishing.

“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press…”

Sir William Blackstone said, “Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public.”

This “freedom of speech” is essential in a society. Free debate leads to correction of public errors.

But Blackstone also said, “But if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequences of his temerity.”

Freedom of Speech comes with responsibilities.

“The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” — Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823.

“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” — Thomas Jefferson to John Jay