John Stuart Mill,
1806-1873, Inspired by the happenings in America, wrote one of the MOST
ELOQUENT AND PERSUASIVE ESSAYS EVER about social and political freedoms.
"Society can and
does exercise it's own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead
of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to
meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds
of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme
penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply
into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection,
therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough, there
needs protection also against the tyranny of prevailing opinion and
feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by means other than
civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on
those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible,
prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its
ways, and compels all characters to fashion themselves upon the model
of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective
opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit; and maintain
it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of
human affairs, as protection against political despotism"
"In the conduct
of human beings towards one another it is necessary that general rules
should for the most part be observed, in order that people may know
what they have to expect; but in each person's own concerns his individual
spontaneity is entitled to free exercise. Considerations to aid his
judgment, exhortations to strengthen his will, may be offered to him,
even obtruded on him, by others: but he himself is the final judge.
All errors which he is likely to commit against advice and warning are
far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to what
they deem his good"
"But the strongest
of all the arguments against the interference of the public with purely
personal conduct is that, when it does interfere, the odds are that
it interferes wrongly, and in the wrong place"