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Dissent is a sentiment or philosophy of non-agreement or opposition to a prevailing idea, such as a government's policies, or an entity – such as an individual or political party which advocates such policies. The term's antonyms include agreement, consensus (when all or nearly all parties agree on something) and consent (when one party agrees to a proposition made by another).
A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government. - Edward Abbey
A reporter interviewing A.J. Muste, who during the Vietnam War stood in front of the White House
night after night with a candle, one rainy night asked, "Mr. Muste, do you really think you are going
to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night with a candle?" Muste replied,
"Oh, I don't do it to change the country, I do it so the country won't change me."
- Andrea Ayvazian
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Various; misattributed to Thomas Jefferson.
Earliest source The Use of Force in International Affairs, (Philadelphia: Friends Peace Committee, 1961), 6, and popularized by various users in the 1960s: If what your country is doing seems to you practically and morally wrong, is dissent the highest form of patriotism?
Other form by Howard Zinn, Dissent In Pursuit Of Equality, Life, Liberty And Happiness: An Interview With Historian Howard Zinn by Sharon Basco, TomPaine.com, July 03 2002: While some people think that dissent is unpatriotic, I would argue that dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
Freedom of speech is useless without freedom of thought. And I fear that the politics of protest is shutting out the process of thought, so necessary to rational discussion. We are faced with the Ten Commandments of Protest:
Thou Shalt Not Allow Thy Opponent to Speak.
Thou Shalt Not Set Forth a Program of Thine Own.
Thou Shalt Not Trust Anybody Over Thirty.
Thou Shalt Not Honor Thy Father or Thy Mother.
Thou Shalt Not Heed the Lessons of History.
Thou Shalt Not Write Anything Longer than a Slogan.
Thou Shalt Not Present a Negotiable Demand.
Thou Shalt Not Accept Any Establishment Idea.
Thou Shalt Not Revere Any but Totalitarian Heroes.
Thou Shalt Not Ask Forgiveness for Thy Transgressions, Rather Thou Shalt Demand Amnesty for Them.
Spiro Agnew, speech to governors and their families, Washington, D.C. (December 3, 1969), Collected Speeches of Spiro Agnew (1971), pp. 98–99.
Thought that is silenced is always rebellious. Majorities, of course, are often mistaken. This is why the silencing of minorities is necessarily dangerous. Criticism and dissent are the indispensable antidote to major delusions. Alan Barth, The Loyalty of Free Men (1951).
Leading fosters a working atmosphere that stimulates an open exchange of ideas and fosters dissent. People should show a genuine concern for one another and treat one another with fairness, as peers and friends. With such an atmosphere it should be a pleasure to come to work. Marvin Bower, (1997). The Will to Lead. p. 131, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, ISBN 0-87584-758-7.
No doubt, there are those who believe that judges-and particularly dissenting judges-write to hear themselves say, as it were, I I I. And no doubt, there are also those who believe that judges are, like Joan Didion, primarily engaged in the writing of fiction. I cannot agree with either of those propositions. William J. Brennan, Jr., In Defense of Dissents, 37 Hastings L. J. 427, 428 (1985-1986).
Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our lifetime. Jacob Bronowski, Science and Human Values (1956, 1965), Part 3: "The Sense of Human Dignity", §5.
Dissent is the mark of freedom. Jacob Bronowski, Science and Human Values (1956, 1965).
All protestantism, even the most cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent in our northern colonies is a refinement on the principles of resistance: it is the dissidence of dissent, and the protestantism of the Protestant religion. Edmund Burke, Second Speech on Conciliation with America, The Thirteen Resolutions (1775).
When you would suffocate or ignore dissent, remember how many times you dissented. Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, Lulu Press (Raleigh, NC, USA), http://www.lulu.com/, 2nd ed. 2014 (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Unported License), p. 37.
The right to dissent is the only thing that makes life tolerable for a judge of an appellate court... the affairs of government could not be conducted by democratic standards without it. William O. Douglas, America Challenged (1960).
The first opinion the Court ever filed has a dissenting opinion. Dissent is a tradition of this Court... When someone is writing for the Court, he hopes to get eight others to agree with him, so many of the majority opinions are rather stultified. William O. Douglas, New York Times interview, (29 October 1973).
There are only two choices: A police state in which all dissent is suppressed or rigidly controlled; or a society where law is responsive to human needs. If society is to be responsive to human needs, a vast restructuring of our laws is essential.
Realization of this need means adults must awaken to the urgency of the young people’s unrest—in other words there must be created an adult unrest against the inequities and injustices in the present system. If the government is in jeopardy, it is not because we are unable to cope with revolutionary situations. Jeopardy means that either the leaders or the people do not realize they have all the tools required to make the revolution come true. The tools and the opportunity exist. Only the moral imagination is missing. William O. Douglas, Points of Rebellion (1970), pp. 92–93.
If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Frederick Douglass, "West India Emancipation", speech delivered at Canandaigua, New York (August 4, 1857); reported in Philip S. Foner, ed., The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass (1950), vol. 2, p. 437.
No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots. Barbara Ehrenreich, "Family Values," The Worst Years of Our Lives: Irreverent Notes from a Decade of Greed (1991).
Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionaries and rebels—men and women who dared to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech at Columbia University's bicentennial, 31 May 1954, Public papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower (1961), p. 524.
You can actively flee, then, and you can actively stay put. Erik Erikson, Insight and Responsibility, New York, W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1964, p. 86; cited in Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, p. 49, footnote 5.
It is often hard to secure unanimity about the borders of legislative power, but that is much easier than to decide how far a particular adjustment diverges from what the judges deem tolerable. On such issues experience has over and over again shown the difficulty of securing unanimity. This is disastrous because disunity cancels the impact of monolithic solidarity on which the authority of a bench of judges so largely depends. Learned Hand, The Bill Of Rights (1958), p. 72.
In the end it is worse to suppress dissent than to run the risk of heresy. Learned Hand, Oliver Wendell Holmes lecture delivered at Harvard (1958); quoted in The Rhetoric of Our Times (1969) by J. Jeffery Auer, p. 124.
A dissenting minority feels free only when it can impose its will on the majority: what it abominates most is the dissent of the majority. Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, aph. 40 (1973).
[Dissents are] appeals to the brooding spirit of the law, to the intelligence of another day. Charles Evans Hughes, reported in "Keeping Politics out of the Court", The New York Times (December 9, 1984); quoted in The HarperCollins Dictionary of American Government and Politics (1992) by Jay M. Shafritz, p. 407.
Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard. Robert H. Jackson, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) at 641.
Political dissension is doubtless a less evil than the lethargy of despotism: but still it is a great evil, and it would be as worthy the efforts of the patriot as of the philosopher, to exclude its influence if possible, from social life. The good are rare enough at best. There is no reason to subdivide them by artificial lines. But whether we shall ever be able so far to perfect the principles of society as that political opinions shall, in its intercourse, be as inoffensive as those of philosophy, mechanics, or any other, may well be doubted. Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Pinckney, 29 May 1797.
The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere. Thomas Jefferson, to Abigail Smith Adams, February 22, 1787.
It's beyond me how anybody can look at these protestors and call them anything other than what they are: anti-American, anticapitalist, pro-Marxist communists. Rush Limbaugh, speaking about political dissent (February 2003), quoted in — Hunt, Jim (2009). They Said What?: Astonishing Quotes on American Democracy, Power, and Dissent. Polipoint Press. p. 22. ISBN 0981709168..
We see political leaders replacing moral imperatives with a Southern strategy. We have seen all too clearly that there are men—now in power in this country—who do not respect dissent, who cannot cope with turmoil, and who believe that the people of America are ready to support repression as long as it is done with a quiet voice and a business suit. And it is up to us to prove that they are wrong. John V. Lindsay, mayor of New York City, speech at University of California, Berkeley (April 2, 1970), as reported by The Washington Post (April 3, 1970), p. 3.
There is one tradition in America I am proud to inherit. It is our first freedom and the truest expression of our Americanism: the ability to dissent without fear. It is our right to utter the words, "I disagree." We must feel at liberty to speak those words to our neighbors, our clergy, our educators, our news media, our lawmakers and, above all, to the one among us we elect President. Natalie Merchant in The Nation (15 July 1991).
The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859).
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. Edward R. Murrow, See It Now, broadcast of 9 March 1954 on CBS TV.
A simple way to determine whether the right to dissent in a particular society is being upheld is to apply the town square test: Can a person walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm? If he can, then that person is living in a free society. If not, it's a fear society. Natan Sharansky, The Case for Democracy, pp. 40–41, 2004, with Ron Dermer.
In a society where dissenting viewpoints are suppressed, those viewpoints are potent and dangerous... Where dissent is tolerated, it rapidly becomes quaint and is viewed as un-sophisticated; people merely amuse themselves with the expression of contrary opinion. Oscar, in Melmoth by David Sim, p. 41, 1991.
The fault I find with most American newspapers is not the absence of dissent. it is the absence of news. With a dozen or so honorable exceptions, most American newspapers carry very little news. Their main concern is advertising. I. F. Stone, The Haunted Fifties (1963).
Trudeau: Well there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don't like to see people with helmets
and guns. All I can say is, go on and bleed. But it's more important to keep law and order in the society
than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don't like the looks of a soldier—
CBC reporter Tim Ralfe [interrupting]: At any cost? How far would you go with that? How far would you extend that?
Trudeau: Well, just watch me. … Society must take every means at its disposal to defend itself against the emergence of a parallel power which defies the elected power. Pierre Trudeau, responses to reporters following the kidnapping by the FLQ of a provincial cabinet minister who was eventually murdered. CBC video archives (1970-10-13).
The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere. Thomas Jefferson, From Library of Congress - Jefferson Papers letter “Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Smith Adams, February 22, 1787”.
If our democracy is to flourish, it must have criticism; if our government is to function it must have dissent. Henry Steele Commager
Everybody Draw Mohammed Day
Freedom of speech
1.↑ Jump up to: a b Dissent is the highest form of patriotism, Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia
2.Jump up ↑ Discussion at urbanlegends.about.com/b/2005/02/15/misattributed-dissent-is-the-highest-form-of-patriotism.htm (Misattributed: Dissent is the highest form of patriotism)
on Tue, 03/08/2011 - 17:29
#1031026 "It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error"
– United States Supreme Court decision in American Communications Association v. Douds
"To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men."
- Abraham Lincoln
"Those who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty
- Ben Franklin
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
- Thomas Jefferson
"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."
"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time
a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice,
he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy
and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and
- Robert F . Kennedy
"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush
fires in people's minds."
- Samuel Adams
"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other
public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic
to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to
the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."
– Teddy Roosevelt
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President,
right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
– Teddy Roosevelt
“The citizen who sees his society’s democratic clothes being worn out and does not cry it out, is not a patriot, but a traitor.” --- Mark Twain
"Liberty has never come from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of government power, not the increase of it." -- Woodrow Wilson
"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent" -- Thomas Jefferson
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow
weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their
revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it."
- Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural
"In this point of the case the question is distinctly presented whether the people of the United States are to govern through representatives chosen by their unbiased suffrages or whether the money and power of a great corporation are to be secretly exerted to influence their judgment and control their decisions."
- Andrew Jackson
"I am more than ever convinced of the dangers to which the free and unbiased exercise of political
opinion -- the only sure foundation and safeguard of republican government -- would be exposed by any
further increase of the already overgrown influence of corporate authorities."
- Martin Van Buren, Eighth President of the United States
"As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations,
and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron
heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of
the people, are fast becoming the people's masters."
- Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President of the United States
"I again recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses
of any party.… Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all
corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly." Teddy Roosevelt
added, "The fortunes amassed through corporate organization are now so large, and vest such power in
those that wield them, as to make it a matter of necessity to give to the sovereign -- that is, to the
Government, which represents the people as a whole -- some effective power of supervision over their
corporate use. In order to insure a healthy social and industrial life, every big corporation should
be held responsible by, and be accountable to, some sovereign strong enough to control its conduct."
- Theodore Roosevelt
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether
sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced
power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties
or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting
for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped
it in the robes of legal sanction. ...And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem
that faced the Minute Man....
- Franklin Roosevelt
"A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's
property, other people's money, other people's labor -- other people's lives. For too many of us life
was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness."
- Franklin Roosevelt
"These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they
really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions
requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution.
In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for."
- Franklin Roosevelt
"Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and
acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy
alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the
- Theodore Roosevelt
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by
their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of
Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers
from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these
ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying
its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most
likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
-Thomas Jefferson, American Declaration of Independence
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Dissent - Wikiquote
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