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Freedom of Speech

The emergence of freedom of speech as an essential value of Western civilization is inseparable from the emergence of individual religious liberty in the 17th and 18th centuries. For generations, following the Reformation of the 16th century, religious war, mutual fratricide, torture, hatred, and repression had rent the fabric of European society, which pointed to the increasing incompatibility of coercing inward belief and outward expression with the needs of civil and policy society. Further, the consciences of a growing number of Europeans were moved by the seeming contrast between the violence of such coercion and repression, on the one hand, and the claims of religion to be a source of peace and love, on the other hand. For reasons of practice and conviction, then, ...

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