A lesson about free speech

Nearly 60 years ago I was in university sharing an apartment with my best friend. George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party, was on our campus to give a speech. My best friend announced that he was going to hear Rockwell speak. I commented that the leader of the American Nazi Party should be run off of the campus.

My friend then asked me if I believed in free speech to which I replied in the affirmative. I was then asked how I could make such a statement and deny speech I disliked. I wrestled with my beliefs after that question. I finally came to the conclusion that I should never block speech I didn’t like.

Later that night my friend returned and I asked about the speech. The answer stunned me. I was told that George Lincoln Rockwell was a great orator but the content of the speech was despicable.

My best friend was killed in Vietnam about three years later. I respected that man and loved him like a brother. I have never forgotten the lesson he taught me about free speech. Perhaps people reading this letter may reflect on their own beliefs and come to a truly rational conclusion.

Rudy Candler


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