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The moral thing I wish to say to [future generations] is very simple. I should say love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other. We have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way, and if we are to live together and not die together we must learn the kind of charity and kind of tolerance which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Interview by John Freeman, Face to Face, BBC TV (1959-03-04)
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Added on 14-Feb-24 | Last updated 14-Feb-24
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It is the certainty that they possess the truth that makes men cruel.

[C’est la certitude qu’ils tiennent la vérité qui rend les hommes cruels.]

Anatole France (1844-1924) French poet, journalist, novelist, Nobel Laureate [pseud. of Jaques-Anatole-François Thibault]
(Misquotation)

Widely attributed (in French and English) to Anatole France, but not found in his works, including the one location it is sometimes cited from, Les Dieux Ont Soif [The Gods Are Thirsty, The Gods Are Athirst, The Gods Will Have Blood] (1912), in either English translation or, more importantly, in the original French.

While thematically keeping in the novel's depiction of the French Revolution and the Terror, the closest match to the quote I can find is this portion of ch. 22, talking about the expediting of the trials of those charged with counter-revolutionary crimes, eliminating the need to prove a misdeed by simply inquiring as to the accused's beliefs.

Justice thus abbreviated satisfied them; the pace was quickened, and no obstacles were left to fret them. They limited themselves to an inquiry into the opinions of the accused, not conceiving it possible that anyone could think differently from themselves except in pure perversity. Believing themselves the exclusive possessors of truth, wisdom, the quintessence of good, they attributed to their opponents noting but error and evil. They felt themselves all-powerful; they envisaged God.
[tr. Allinson (1913), Jackson (1921)]

Justice, thus curtailed, satisfied them; the pace was quickened and no obstacles were left to confuse them. They confined themselves to inquiring into the opinions of the accused, not conceiving it possible that anyone, except from pure perversity, could think differently from themselves. Believing themselves to possess a monopoly of truth, wisdom and goodness, they attributed to their opponents all error, stupidity and evil. They felt themselves omnipotent: their eyes had seen God.
[tr. Davies (1979)]

La justice abrégée les contentait. Rien, dans sa marche accélérée, ne les troublait plus. Ils s’enquéraient seulement des opinions des accusés, ne concevant pas qu’on pût sans méchanceté penser autrement qu’eux. Comme ils croyaient posséder la vérité, la sagesse, le souverain bien, ils attribuaient à leurs adversaires l’erreur et le mal. Ils se sentaient forts : ils voyaient Dieu.
[Original]

 
Added on 9-Nov-23 | Last updated 9-Nov-23
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Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, “My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.” But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today but for tomorrow.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020) American lawyer and jurist, Supreme Court Justice (1993-2020)
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Malvina Harlan,” interview by Nina Totenberg, NPR (2002-05-02)
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Speaking of Justice John Marshall Harlan and his lone dissent in Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883), where the Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Ginsburg was being interviewed for her role in getting a long-lost memoir by Malvina Harlan, the Justice's wife, published as a book.
 
Added on 17-Oct-23 | Last updated 17-Oct-23
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The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man’s observation, not overturning it.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) English novelist and politician
The Student, Vol. 2, “The New Phaedo,” Conversation 1 (1835)
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See La Bruyere.
 
Added on 7-Jul-23 | Last updated 7-Jul-23
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We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.

Jones - We can disagree and still love each other unless disagreement rooted oppression denial humanity right exist - wist.info quote

Robert Jones Jr
Robert Jones, Jr. (b. 1971) American writer [a.k.a. "Son of Baldwin"]
Twitter (2015-08-18)
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Frequently misattributed to James Baldwin.

More discussion here: Galería de la Raza: Son of Baldwin.
 
Added on 1-Jun-23 | Last updated 1-Jun-23
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If all the People of different Opinions in this Province would engage to give me as much for not printing things they don’t like, as I can get by printing them, I should probably live a very easy Life; and if all Printers were every where so dealt by, there would be very little printed.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Apology for Printers,” Philadelphia Gazette (1731-06-10)
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Added on 24-May-23 | Last updated 24-May-23
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Why is it that right-wing bastards always stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity, while liberals fall out among themselves?

Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017) Russian poet, writer, film director, academic [Евге́ний Евтуше́нко, Evgenij Evtušenko]
In The Observer (15 Dec 1991)
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Added on 19-Sep-22 | Last updated 19-Sep-22
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Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued. They quarreled. Eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
“Farewell Address,” Chicago (10 Jan 2017)
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Added on 3-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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Unfortunately, civility is hard to codify or legislate, but you know it when you see it. It’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor (b. 1930) American attorney, politician, Supreme Court justice (1981-2006)
Speech, Wake Forest University, North Carolina (3 Apr 1993)
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At the dedication of the Worrell Professional Center. Quoted in "Justice O'Connor Criticizes Lawyers for 'Rambo' Tactics," Washington Post (4 Apr 1993).
 
Added on 18-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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We were like a lot of clocks, he thought, all striking different hours, all convinced we were telling the right time.

Susan Ertz
Susan Ertz (1887-1985) Anglo-American writer
The Story of Julian (1931)
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Added on 9-Nov-21 | Last updated 9-Nov-21
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Everyone loves the Revolution. We only disagree on whether it has occurred.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
“Vectors: 56 Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays,” Michigan Quarterly Review, # 8 (Spring 1999)
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Added on 28-Sep-21 | Last updated 28-Sep-21
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To disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen well, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say.

Bret Stephens (b. 1973) American journalist, editor, columnist
“The Dying Art of Disagreement,” Lecture, Lowy Institute Media Award dinner, Sydney (23 Sep 2017)
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Reprinted in the New York Times (24 Sep 2017)
 
Added on 15-Jun-21 | Last updated 15-Jun-21
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Every great idea is really just a spectacular disagreement with some other great idea.

Bret Stephens (b. 1973) American journalist, editor, columnist
“The Dying Art of Disagreement,” Lecture, Lowy Institute Media Award dinner, Sydney (23 Sep 2017)
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Reprinted in the New York Times (24 Sep 2017).
 
Added on 2-Jun-21 | Last updated 2-Jun-21
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A society is most vigorous, and appealing, when both partisan and critic are legitimate voices in the permanent dialogue that is the testing of ideas and experience. One can be a critic of one’s country without being an enemy of its promise.

Daniel Bell (1919-2011) American sociologist, writer, editor, academic
The End of Ideology, Introduction (1961 ed.)
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Added on 5-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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From such Considerations as these it follows, that I ought never to be angry with any one for differing in Judgment from me. For how know I but the Point in dispute between us, is one of those Errors that I have embrac’d as Truth. If I am in the Wrong, I should not be displeas’d that another is in the Right. If I am in the Right, ’tis my Happiness; and I should rather pity than blame him who is unfortunately in the Wrong.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Josiah Franklin (Apr 1738) [draft]
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His father.
 
Added on 8-Oct-20 | Last updated 20-Mar-23
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Respect only has meaning as respect for those with whom I do not agree.

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
A History of God (1993)
 
Added on 21-Sep-20 | Last updated 21-Sep-20
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Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that, if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe, say, or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

Rick Warren (b. 1954) American Christian pastor and author
“Rick Warren on Muslims, Evangelism & Missions,” interview with Brandon A. Cox, Christian Post (2 Mar 2012)
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Added on 27-May-19 | Last updated 27-May-19
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Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
“Talk and Talkers (A Sequel),” Cornhill Magazine (1882-08)
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Reprinted in Memories and Portraits, ch. 11 (1886).
 
Added on 21-Nov-18 | Last updated 8-Sep-23
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Consistently wise decisions can only be made by those whose wisdom is constantly challenged.

Theodore "Ted" Sorensen (1928-2010) American lawyer, writer, presidential adviser, speechwriter
Decision-Making in the White House: The Olive Branch or the Arrows, ch. 7 (1963)
 
Added on 14-Nov-17 | Last updated 14-Nov-17
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Philosophy had supplied Socrates with convictions in which he had been able to have rational, as opposed to hysterical, confidence when faced with disapproval.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 1 “Consolations for Unpopularity” (2000)
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Added on 24-Aug-17 | Last updated 24-Aug-17
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If you are threatened or offended by people disagreeing, challenging or even ridiculing your faith, your faith can’t be that strong.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (23 Sep 2012)
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Added on 25-Aug-16 | Last updated 25-Aug-16
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I do not kill everyone with whom I have a difference of opinion and I would not want anyone reading this memoir to think that I do.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Friday Jones] (1982)
 
Added on 27-Oct-15 | Last updated 27-Oct-15
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Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Letter to Edward Newenham (30 Oct 1792)
 
Added on 6-May-15 | Last updated 6-May-15
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What Tully said of war may be applied to disputing: “It should be always so managed as to remember that the only true end of it is peace.” But generally true disputants are like true sportsmen, — their whole delight is in the pursuit; and the disputant no more cares for the truth than the sportsman for the hare.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
“Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1727)
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Added on 8-Aug-14 | Last updated 8-Aug-14
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Every man who attacks my belief, diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (3 Apr 1775)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
 
Added on 11-Apr-14 | Last updated 11-Apr-14
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Most Mens Anger about Religion is as if two Men should quarrel for a Lady they neither of them care for.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Religion,” Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
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Added on 17-Jan-14 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
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It is good, too, that we sometimes suffer opposition, and that men think ill of us and misjudge us, even when we do and mean well. Such things are an aid to humility, and preserve us from pride and vainglory. For we more readily turn to God as our inward witness, when men despise us and think no good of us.

[Bonum est quod patiamur quandoque contradictiones, et male et imperfecte de nobis sentiatur, etiamsi bene agimus, et intendimus. Ista sæpe juvant ad humilitatem, et a vana gloria nos defendunt. Tunc enim melius interiorem testem Deum quærimus, quando foris vilipendimur ab hominibus, et non bene de nobis creditur.]

Thomas von Kempen
Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471) German-Dutch priest, author
The Imitation of Christ [De Imitatione Christi], Book 1, ch. 12, v. 1 (1.12.1) (c. 1418-27) [tr. Sherley-Price (1952)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

It is good also that we suffer sometime contradiction, and that we be holden of others as evil, and wretched, and sinful, though we do well and intend well: for such things help us to meekness and mightily defend us from vain-glory and pride. We take God the better to be our judge and witness, when we be outwardly despised in the world, and the world judgeth not well of us.
[tr. Whitford/Raynal (1530/1871)]

It also is good that we sometimes suffer contradiction, and that we be thought of by others as evil and wretched and sinful, though we do well and intend well; such things help us to humility, and mightily defend us from vainglory and pride. We take God better to be our judge and witness when we are outwardly despised in the world and the world does not judge well of us.
[tr. Whitford/Gardiner (1530/1955)]

It is good for us sometimes to be crossed and contradicted, yea to be ill spoken of, and ill thought of, although we both doe and mean well. These wonderfully increase in us the vertue of humility, and strongly beat downe in us the vice of vain-glory. For then we more earnestly call God to witnesse in us and for us, when men abroad dis-esteeme us and give no credit unto us.
[tr. Page (1639), 1.3.3-5]

The Injuries and contumelious Usage, the Calumnies and Censures of them who speak and think ill of us, bring their Profit with them too; even when most wrongful, most undeserved. For these oftentimes are an occasion of rectifying our Measures, as bringing us to a juster and more modest Opinion of our selves: They cure our Ambition and Vain-glory, and convince us how vain a thing it is, to thrill after Reputation and the Praise of Men, when even Innocence and Goodness cannot protect us from Slander and Reproaches. They teach us to set a due Value upon the Testimony of our own Consciences, and the righteous Approbation of God, the Searcher of Hearts; when that which he will not fail to commend and reward, cannot escape the Contempt and Condemnation of the World, nor prevail for so much as fair Quarter, from our mistaken and injurious Brethren.
[tr. Stanhope (1696; 1706 ed.)]

It is good for him also to meet with contradiction and reproach; and to be evil thought of, and evil spoken of, even when his intentions are upright, and his actions blameless; for this keeps him humble, and is a powerful antidote to the poison of vain glory: then chiefly it is, that we have recourse to the witness within us, which is God; when we are outwardly despised, and held in no degree of esteem and favor among men.
[tr. Payne (1803)]

It is good that we be sometimes contradicted; and that there be an evil or a lessening conceit had of us; and this, although we do and intend well. These things help often to the attaining of humility, and defend us from vain glory: for then we chiefly seek God for our inward witness, when outwardly we be contemned by men, and when there is no credit given unto us.
[ed. Parker (1841)]

It is good for us also to meet with contradiction and reproach; and to be evil thought of, and evil spoken of; even when our intentions are upright, and our actions blameless; for this keeps us humble, and is a powerful antidote to the poison of vain glory. Then chiefly it is, that we have recourse to the witness within us, which is GOD; when we are outwardly despised, and held in no esteem and favor among men.
[tr. Dibdin (1851)]

It is good that we sometimes suffer contradictions, and that men have an evil or imperfect opinion of us, even when we do and intend well. These things are often helps to humility, and defend us from vain glory. For we then better seek God as our inward witness, when outwardly we are despised by men, and little credit is given to us.
[ed. Bagster (1860)]

It is good that we sometimes endure contradictions, and are hardly and unfairly judged, when we do and mean what is good. For these things help us to be humble, and shield us from vain-glory. For then we seek the more earnestly the witness of God, when men speak evil of us falsely, and give us no credit for good.
[tr. Benham (1874)]

It is good that we be sometimes contradicted, and this, although we do and intend well. These things help often to the attaining of humility, and defend us from vain glory: for then we are more inclined to seek God for our inward witness.
[tr. Anon. (1901)]

It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory. When to all outward appearances men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts.
[tr. Croft/Bolton (1940)]

It is good for us sometimes to endure contradictions, and to be thought of as bad or imperfect, even when we do and mean well. Such things often help towards meekness, and protect us from idle boasting. For then we look to God, the better inward witness, when we are disparaged from without by men, and no good is credited to us.
[tr. Daplyn (1952)]

It's good for you sometimes to hear men's voices raised against you, and to find that you are making a bad impression, or at least a false impression, on others, even when you are doing your best, and with the best intentions. It often makes for humility; prevents you from having too good an opinion of yourself. It's when we make a bad surface impression, and people are ready to think ill of us, that we learn to fall back upon God's judgements, because he witnesses all our actions from within.
[tr. Knox-Oakley (1959)]

It is a good thing that we are maligned now and again, and are misjudged and disliked even when we mean and do well. This sort of thing is often a great help in achieving humility, and it keeps us from groundless self-satisfaction; for we are more ready to listen for God’s assuring voice within, when those around believe the worst of us and treat us with contempt
[tr. Knott (1962)]

It is good too that we should be contradicted and ill-thought of, even when we act with the best intentions. Experiences like these help us towards humility and guard us against vainglory. When outwardly we are slandered and ill-thought of, then we will yearn more anxiously for God’s inward witness.
[tr. Rooney (1979)]

Sometimes it is good that we put up with people speaking against us, and sometimes it is good that we be thought of as bad and flawed, even when we do good things and have good intentions. Such troubles are often aids to humility, and they protect us from pride. Indeed, we are sometimes better seeking God when people have nothing but bad things to say about us and when they refuse to give us credit for the good things we have done!
[tr. Creasy (1989)]

 
Added on 1-Jul-13 | Last updated 28-Sep-23
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Whether we are New Dealer, Old Dealer, Liberty Leaguer or Red, whether we agree or not, we still have the right to think and speak how we feel.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American politician, educator, US President (1963-69)
Speech (1939-09-15), Chamber of Commerce Barbeque, Smithville, Texas
 
Added on 15-May-13 | Last updated 26-Apr-24
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‘Yes,’ I answered you last night;
‘No,’ this morning, sir, I say.
Colors seen by candle-light,
Will not look the same by day.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) English poet
“The Lady’s ‘Yes'”, st. 1 (1844)
 
Added on 2-May-13 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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We believe very strongly on preserving the right to differ in this country, and the right to dissent; and if I have done a good job of anything since I’ve been president, it’s to ensure that there are plenty of dissenters.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American politician, educator, US President (1963-69)
Press Conference (1967-11-17)
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Added on 7-Nov-12 | Last updated 3-Nov-23
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Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.

Horace Mann (1796-1859) American educator
Thoughts (1867)
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Added on 29-May-12 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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The individual is not accountable to society for his actions in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself. Advice, instruction, persuasion, and avoidance by other people, if thought necessary by them for their own good, are the only measures by which society can justifiably express its dislike or disapprobation of his conduct.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
On Liberty, ch. 5 “Applications” (1859)
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Added on 25-Aug-10 | Last updated 19-Oct-23
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sandman 69 p16

LUCIFER: I had the hubris originally to regard myself as a collaborator, as a co-author …. Very rapidly I found myself reduced to the status of character, following something of a disagreement in the fundamental direction of the Creation. Now I sometimes feel I’m simply waiting around to see which of us was right, which was wrong.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British author, screenwriter, fabulist
Sandman, Book 9. The Kindly Ones, # 69 “The Kindly Ones” (1995-07)
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Added on 6-Apr-10 | Last updated 21-Mar-24
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Unreason and anti-intellectualism abominate thought. Thinking implies disagreement; and disagreement implies nonconformity; and nonconformity implies heresy; and heresy implies disloyalty — so, obviously, thinking must be stopped. But shouting is not a substitute for thinking and reason is not the subversion but the salvation of freedom.

Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965) American diplomat, statesman
Call to Greatness, ch. 3 “America’s Burden” (1954)
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Adapted from his "A Troubled World," Godkin Lectures, Harvard University (1954-03-17 - 1954-03-20)
 
Added on 26-Oct-09 | Last updated 28-Mar-24
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Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism:

The right to criticize.
The right to hold unpopular beliefs.
The right to protest.
The right of independent thought.

The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood, nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know someone who holds unpopular beliefs. Who of us doesn’t? Otherwise none of us could call our souls our own. Otherwise thought control would have set in.

Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1965) American politician (US Senator, Maine)
“Declaration of Conscience” (1950-06-01)
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Speech given in the US Senate.
 
Added on 27-Sep-07 | Last updated 4-Jul-23
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Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Inaugural Address (4 Mar 1801)
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Added on 15-Jun-04 | Last updated 6-Jul-22
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You don’t promote the cause of peace by talking only to people with whom you agree.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
News conference (20 Jan 1957)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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Ideological differences are no excuse for rudeness.

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist, etiquette expert [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
“Miss Manners,” syndicated column (1978-10-08)
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On interactions between the general public and picketers, though she has used the phrase on other occasions.

Reprinted in Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Part 3 "Basic Civilization," "Common Courtesy for All Ages" (1983).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Jan-24
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Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.

Emerson - Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted - wist.info quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1838-11-08)
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BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you don’t entertain.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Bigot,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
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Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
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From the same it proceedeth that men give different names to one and the same thing from the difference of their own passions: as they that approve a private opinion call it opinion; but they that mislike it, heresy: and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion; but has only a greater tincture of choler.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 11 (1651)
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We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.

Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) American journalist
See It Now (7 Mar 1954)

Episode dealing with Sen. Joe McCarthy's of Communists in the US.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Apr-21
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