Frye Quote of the Day: “Free speech is the one thing a mob can’t stand”

The Harper government does not like the press (Sun Media excepted), does not like its political opposition, does not like critics, does not even, it appears, like free speech that extends to any of these. As we’ve seen, the Conservatives are willing to go to great trouble to suppress videos of Stephen Harper in order to keep them away from a wider audience that might not be as sympathetic to the contents.

Frye in The Educated Imagination:

I don’t see how the study of language and literature can be separated from the question of free speech, which we all know is fundamental to our society. The area of ordinary speech, as I see it, is a battleground between two forms of social speech: the speech of a mob and the speech of a free society. One stands for cliche, ready-made ideas, and automatic babble, and it leads us inevitably from illusion into hysteria. There can be no free speech in a mob: free speech is one thing a mob can’t stand. You notice that the people who allow their fear of Communism to become hysterical eventually get to screaming that every sane man is a Communist. (CW 21, 490-1)

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