Did We Say That?: Down with Free Speech

In wartime, the editors argued, this First Amendment right should be suppressed.

Censored man

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“Did We Say That?” is a look at the Post‘s occasional lapses in judgment. In wartime, the 1917 editors argued, this First Amendment right should be suppressed. 

Normally we can well afford to let anybody say what he chooses. Just now we are sending a million men to the trenches — which entirely alters the case. Nobody is required to like it; but everybody who would like to hinder it is strictly required to mind his speech and manners carefully. Any tolerance of active opposition would be insufferable. Many things go by the board in war. Lives, limbs, hopes, peace of mind, wealth — all those things go into the red pot. Free speech goes too. There must be no freedom for the speech that counsels resistance to war laws. For it a quick route to a stout jail.

Above  is the unabridged editorial from the August 11, 1917, issue of the Post.

This article is featured in the July/August 2017 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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