A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time” (5/25)
“A gig is worth ten rehearsals” (music adage) (5/24)
“Victory is a thousand times sweeter when you’re the underdog” (5/24)
“Progress is what happens when impossibility yields to necessity” (5/24)
“An optimist is a person who has no trouble seeing the bright side of your problems” (5/24)
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Entry from April 25, 2019
“Freedom of speech is not a license to be stupid”

"Freedom of speech is not a license to be stupid” is a saying that has been printed on many images. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. The saying means that just because one can do something—especially something stupid—that doesn’t mean that it’s wise to do it.

Some critics of the saying insist that “freedom of speech” means exactly that, and that the saying attempts to curb speech that is unpopular or “stupid.” Freedom of speech is a natural right, not requiring a license.

“Freedom of speech is not a license to be stupid” has been cited in print since at least 2007, when it was a T-shirt saying. Authorship is unknown.


Doug Johnson
Doug’s t-shirt says
- a collection of t-shirt sayings from catalogs, websites, and personal sighting

(...)
408. Freedom of speech is not a license to be stupid.
(...)
POSTED ON SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2007 AT 11:39AM BY Registered CommenterDOUG JOHNSON

Google Groups: tx.guns
Guns & Ammo magazine
Paul Cassel
2/11/08
(...)
Freedom of speech is not a license to be stupid. I have little or no respect for anonymous Internet cowards hiding behind handles and afraid to come into the light. If they are your words, either they ARE your words or shut up.

Twitter
Dameofficial
@Lady_Dame
Freedom of speech is not a license to be stupid..
12:57 PM - 24 Oct 2010

10 June 2011, Herald & Review (Decatur, IL), ‘Spelling out the wise use of free speech” by Dave Dawson, pg. A4, col. 1:
... Allison (Allison Petty, a reporter—ed.) brought back a souvenir for me from the Newseum.

It’s a magnet with the saying, “Freedom of speech is not a license to be stupid.”

The quote is attributed to anonymous, which is too bad because anonymous deserves a medal.

Twitter
Doug Johnson
@BlueSkunkBlog
Doug’s t-shirt says: Freedom of speech is not a license to be stupid. (Thanks to Assorted Stuff for this one http://bit.ly/xHzpke )
7:20 AM - 8 Jan 2012

Twitter
uradn
@uradn
‘freedom of speech; isn’t a license to be stupid’ #newseum
11:01 AM - 15 Jun 2012

4 October 2013, The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction, CO), “Letters,” pg. 4A, col. 4:
There is a saying at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., that read, ‘Freedom of speech is not a license to be stupid.”
CHRISTINA HOBBS
Grand Junction

The News-Gazette (Champaign, IL)
13 May 2018, News Gazette (Champaign, IL), “It might be time for a refresher course on free speech” by Emily Klose, pg. C7:
Think about the many events in our nation’s history that have occurred—and continue to occur—because people have refused to remain quiet. Have refused to accept the status quo. Have spoken up. Have spoken their minds. Have refused to be well-behaved. Have been unafraid to demand change. Have protested and risked and lost their lives struggling for righteous causes that others denounced as, well, harebrained or hopeless.

People exercising their First Amendment rights often say things that are stupid. But consider the alternative. I think it’s called Russia. In the Newseum’s own video, rapper and actor LL Cool J nails it when he says: “All of these ideas deserve to be heard. All of them.”

Perhaps the bigwigs at the Newseum need a timeout to watch their own video about the First Amendment before they embark on their next junket to purchase Newseum bling.
Emily Klose lives in Champaign.

2 June 2018, News Gazette (Champaign, IL), “It’s OK to stand up to stupidity,” pg. A4:
As her recent News-Gazette essay explains, Emily Klose dislikes the T-shirt maxim “Freedom of Speech is NOT a license to be stupid!” Sighting it in the Washington, D.C., Newseum so irritated her that she doggedly employed her journalistic bent to stalk her essay’s foreground, substance and background for three days, vainly pursuing Newseum staff for interviews.

Personally, I like the quip’s sentiment. There’s a sting in its tail useful to recall when rambunctious stupidity—one’s own or another’s—hinders reasonable, civil discussion.

She complains that the statement implies (or proposes? or condoles?) Putinesque suppression. She says, “... in a free society, all voices shall be heard, regardless of whether the words being uttered seem stupid, controversial, offensive ... to someone, somewhere.”
(...)
DWAIN BERGGREN
Urbana

Arkansas Times (Little Rock, AR)
JULY 26, 2018 NEWS » THE OBSERVER
The Newseum
(...)
The gift shop seemed to be doing a much brisker business in hats that said: “Freedom of Speech is Not a License to Be Stupid.” But, as any journalist worth his or her salt will tell you, giving space for the countervailing viewpoint is important in any good story.

Twitter
Kevin Brown
@KBrownianMotion
Replying to @KBrownianMotion @onthemedia @dpfunke
“Freedom of speech is not a license to be stupid” available on shirts, mugs, hats, magnets, and stickers.
3:28 PM - 3 Aug 2018

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Thursday, April 25, 2019 • Permalink