To dissent is to express a different opinion, or to challenge established beliefs or norms. In democracy, dissent is protected, so that there can be a free exchange of ideas and possible change and improvement. Read what some notables have written about dissent, in this collection of quotations.
No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.
But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.
You have to have people who prick the consciences of the nation.
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.
Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.
I abhorred slavery in every form. I yearned to see all men and all women free. I detested the idea of some men being ruled by others, and of women being ruled by men. I believed that women should have all the rights men have, and I looked upon child labor as a crime. And so I became an agitator and this ruling passion of my life found larger expression.
If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who had not been satisfied with their conditions, you would still be living in caves.
You’ve got to rattle your cage door. You’ve got to let them know that you’re in there, and that you want out. Make noise. Cause trouble. You may not win right away, but you’ll sure have a lot more fun.
All great truths begin as blasphemies.
Disobedience, the rarest and most courageous of the virtues, is seldom distinguished from neglect, the laziest and commonest of the vices.
Human beings have an inalienable right to invent themselves; when that right is pre-empted it is called brain-washing.
I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.
Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
Historically, the most terrible things — war, genocide, and slavery — have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience.
Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.
I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
I saw courage both in the Vietnam War and in the struggle to stop it. I learned that patriotism includes protest, not just military service.
I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group.
Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism: The right to criticize. The right to hold unpopular beliefs. The right to protest. The right of independent thought.
Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.
If the man doesn’t believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean, it does nowadays, because now we can’t burn him.
A man with a new idea is a crank until he succeeds.
Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.
Non-cooperation is a measure of discipline and sacrifice, and it demands respect for the opposite views.
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.
Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.
Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.
To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
The people cannot be all, and always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories…. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…. We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.
The cry has been that when war is declared, all opposition should be hushed. A sentiment more unworthy of a free country could hardly be propagated.
Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.