"My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular." Adlai Stevenson (October 7, 1952 (Detroit)).
Presidential candidate Stevenson's concise definition may be incomplete, but it is essential. In too many ages, in too many societies, to be unpopular was - and is - a ticket to the dungeon or execution.
Yet, the unpopular position often becomes the all but unchallenged position generations later. Women's suffrage, abolitionism, and civil rights were all unpopular in large segments of America at its founding, and now it is difficult to imagine how that could be. Yesterday's heresy is tomorrow's orthodoxy. That is how a free society grows.
The failure to allow the unpopular view - witness the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Syria - creates pressure that ensures unrest - and often the demise of the oppressive government - but not without terrible costs.
Just as important, the right to speak and print one's mind - no matter how unpopular - is an unalienable right given to us by Nature and Nature's God, and is protected our Bill of Rights. Attempts to censor us results not only in bad policy, but is the very definition of tyranny. That is why its so important to protect all opinions - regardless of their popularity. After all, it wouldn't be much of a free society if all that was protected was the popular speech - it doesn't need the protection, its the heresy and sacrilege that needs it.
For more about our unalienable rights, visit PatriotWeek.org and AmericasSurvivalGuide.com.