October 4, 1989, pages S12596-S12597: Government may not forbid the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable. The right to free expression is meaningless if that right only protects expression sanctioned by the majority. The depth of a nation`s commitment to free speech is measured by its willingness to tolerate expression which most its people find repellent. And the strength of a nation`s unity - its sense of shared values - is measured by its capacity to tolerate expression which tries to destroy that unity. Strong nations tolerate dissenting expression. Weak nations suppress it. It is that simple.
But one of the things that makes this country the greatest and freest in the world, is that we protect free expression even when we hate the message and despise the messenger.
June 14, 1990, page S7928: I am angry that once again we are going to turn the Bill of Rights into a political football. In 200 years, the Bill of Rights has never, never, been curtailed. This country has gone through a Civil War, two World Wars, and a Great Depression - monumental events which tested our strength and unity. But in those moments, we resisted the temptation to cut back individual freedom. Once you start fiddling with the Bill of Rights to outlaw offensive expression, where do you stop?
The reason this country is a shining example for the rest of the world is that we protect all political expression, even when it is wrong-headed, offensive, and outrageous. That is not such a complicated idea.
We do not protect the flag by diminishing the liberties for which it stands. We do not breed respect for the flag by legislating devotion to Old Glory. And we will not strengthen this Nation by weakening the Bill of Rights.Warren S. Apel