Truth does not need gallows, chains, torture and prisons in order to defend itself.

George Thompson, translated by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 327 to 343 (in French)
Covent Garden, May 22nd 1844

In this speech, George Thompson reverts back to the idea according to which the fight against slavery does not require protectionism. We have seen that, at the time, a number of liberals accepted the government’s argument who differentiated free-grown sugar from slave sugar in order to implement differential tariffs. George Thompson insists on the fact that some evil cannot be fought through some other evil and comes back to the inconsistencies of government who would be philanthropic towards slave sugar but would apply other principles towards coffee. Moreover, he illustrates his position by quoting the brother of Joseph Sturge (I could not find out his first name and it cannot be Edmund Sturge who was still alive in 1844) who observed how, fourty years earlier, the indigo introduced by some British capitalists in Bengal had substituted the indigo produced by slaves.

Today’s quote seems essential to me in the lens of what it means for the opposite. When a government attacks freedom of speech, one can legitimately think that it is not in pursuit of the truth but in order to hide the truth (some oppressed individual may well talk nonsense but the best way of avoiding it is to show how rather than silencing him). Besides George Thompson appropriates the motto “Fiat justicia, ruat cœlum” that translates into “Let justice be done though the heavens fall”, which I find admirable in its optimism and courage to the extent that it conveys the integrity of those who trust justice rather than accept compromission (beware: it is not the same as “I trust the justice of my country”, which pertains to the institution).

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