‘Freedom of speech’ means you support the right of people to say exactly those ideas which you do not agree with.
In early June of 1993 – several months before cancer took his life at the age of thirty-two – beloved comedian Bill Hicks received a letter from a priest bemoaning the ‘blasphemous’ content in Hicks’s live television special Revelations and reprimanding British broadcaster Channel 4 for having put it on the air.
Writing a mere eight days before his fatal pancreatic cancer diagnosis — a young man still oblivious to his imminent tragic fate — Hicks decided to respond to the missive personally – in what became one of the most lucid and beautiful defenses of the freedom of speech ever articulated – on par with Voltaire’s piercing admonition about censorship and Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless words on the subject.
From Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience (public library | IndieBound) — the same wonderful compendium by Shaun Usher that gave us young Hunter S. Thompson on how to live a meaningful life – E.B. White’s heartening response to a man who had lost faith in humanity – and Eudora Welty’s impossibly charming lesson in how to apply to your dream job —
– comes Hicks’s brilliant thoughtful and immeasurably important response.