Mill, 1806-1873, Inspired by the happenings in America, wrote one of
the MOST ELOQUENT AND PERSUASIVE ESSAYS EVER about social and political
freedoms. ON LIBERTY
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"
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"
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"