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Meiklejohn, Alexander / Free speech and its relation to self-government
(1948)

Chapter I:The rulers and the ruled,   pp. 1-27


Page 25

The Rulers and the Ruled  25 
in that method of political self-government, the point of ultimate interest
is not the wOrds of the speakers, but the minds of the hearers. The final
aim of the meeting is the voting of wise decisions. The voters, therefore,
must be made as wise as possible. The welfare of the community requires that
those who decide issues shall understand them. They must know what they are
voting about. And this, in turn, requires that so far as time allows, all
facts and interests relevant to the problem shall be fully and fairly presented
to the meeting. Both facts and interests must be given in such a way that
all the alternative lines of action can be wisely measured in relation to
one another. As the self-governing community seeks, by the method of voting,
to gain wisdom in action, it can find it only in the minds of its individual
citizens. If they fail, it fails. That is why freedom of discussion for those
minds may not be abridged.. 
 The First Amendment, then, is not the guardian of unregulated talkativeness.
It does not require that, on every occasion, every citizen shall take part
in public debate. Nor can it even give assurance that everyone shall have
opportunity to do so. If, for example, at a town meeting, twenty like-minded
citizens have become a "party," and if one of them has read to
the meeting
an argument which they have all approved, it would be ludicrously out of
order for each of the others to insist on reading it again. No competent
moderator would tolerate that wasting of the time available for free discussion.
What is essential is not that everyone shall speak, but that everything worth
saying shall be said. To this 


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