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Leslie Stephen

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Why, when no honest man will deny in private that every ultimate problem is wrapped in the profoundest mystery, do honest men proclaim in pulpits that unhesitating certainty is the duty of the most foolish and ignorant? Is it not a spectacle to make the angels laugh?
--
The Fortnightly Review, vol. 25 (1876) p. 859

 
Leslie Stephen

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What is blasphemy? I will give you a definition; I will give you my thought upon this subject. What is real blasphemy?
To live on the unpaid labor of other men that is blasphemy.
To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body that is blasphemy.
To enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips that is blasphemy.
To deny what you believe to be true, to admit to be true what you believe to be a lie that is blasphemy.
To strike the weak and unprotected, in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant and superstitious mob that is blasphemy.
To persecute the intelligent few, at the command of the ignorant many that is blasphemy.
To forge chains, to build dungeons, for your honest fellow-men that is blasphemy.
To pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain that is blasphemy.
To violate your conscience that is blasphemy.
The jury that gives an unjust verdict, and the judge who pronounces an unjust sentence, are blasphemers.
The man who bows to public opinion against his better judgment and against his honest conviction, is a blasphemer.
Why should we fear our fellow-men? Why should not each human being have the right, so far as thought and its expression are concerned, of all the world? What harm can come from an honest interchange of thought?

 
Robert G. Ingersoll
 

Four Good Reasons for Electing Cleveland: 1. He is honest. 2. He is honest. 3. He is honest. 4. He is honest.

 
Grover Cleveland
 

Then Mr. Honest called for his friends, and said unto them, I die, but shall make no will. As for my honesty, it shall go with me; let him that comes after be told of this. When the day that he was to be gone was come, he addressed himself to go over the river. Now the river at that time over-flowed its banks in some places; but Mr. Honest, in his lifetime, had spoken to one Good-conscience to meet him there, the which he also did, and lent him his hand, and so helped him over. The last words of Mr. Honest were, Grace reigns! So he left the world.

 
John Bunyan
 

The question to be tried by you is whether a man has the right to express his honest thought; and for that reason there can be no case of greater importance submitted to a jury. And it may be well enough for me, at the outset, to admit that there could be no case in which I could take a greater a deeper interest. For my part, I would not wish to live in a world where I could not express my honest opinions. Men who deny to others the right of speech are not fit to live with honest men.
I deny the right of any man, of any number of men, of any church, of any State, to put a padlock on the lips to make the tongue a convict. I passionately deny the right of the Herod of authority to kill the children of the brain.
A man has a right to work with his hands, to plow the earth, to sow the seed, and that man has a right to reap the harvest. If we have not that right, then all are slaves except those who take these rights from their fellow-men. If you have the right to work with your hands and to gather the harvest for yourself and your children, have you not a right to cultivate your brain? Have you not the right to read, to observe, to investigate and when you have so read and so investigated, have you not the right to reap that field? And what is it to reap that field? It is simply to express what you have ascertained simply to give your thoughts to your fellow-men.
If there is one subject in this world worthy of being discussed, worthy of being understood, it is the question of intellectual liberty. Without that, we are simply painted clay; without that, we are poor, miserable serfs and slaves.

 
Robert G. Ingersoll
 

These religions teach the slave virtues. They make inanimate things holy, and falsehoods sacred. They create artificial crimes. To eat meat on Friday, to enjoy yourself on Sunday, to eat on fast-days, to be happy in Lent, to dispute a priest, to ask for evidence, to deny a creed, to express your sincere thought, all these acts are sins, crimes against some god, To give your honest opinion about Jehovah, Mohammed or Christ, is far worse than to maliciously slander your neighbor. To question or doubt miracles. is far worse than to deny known facts. Only the obedient, the credulous, the cringers, the kneelers, the meek, the unquestioning, the true believers, are regarded as moral, as virtuous. It is not enough to be honest, generous and useful; not enough to be governed by evidence, by facts. In addition to this, you must believe. These things are the foes of morality. They subvert all natural conceptions of virtue.

 
Robert G. Ingersoll
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