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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Jeremy Bentham, writing to the Spaniards, on the arrest of a newspaperman for criticizing the government on why this does not happen in the United States:

What says experience? In the Anglo-American United States, of the two parts of this system, neither the one nor the other will you see. No prosecution can there have place, for anything written against the government, or any of its functionaries as such. No restriction whatever is there on public meetingsâ€"on public meetings held for any such purpose as that of sitting in judgment on the constitutionâ€"on any measures of the governmentâ€"or on any part of the conduct of any of its functionaries. Yet, if there were a country in which these restraints, or either of them, would be necessary or conducive to good government, it would be that; for, in that country the people are all armed: armed, at all times, in much greater proportion than in any other countryâ€"armed, at any time they please, every one of them.

No: in that only seat of real and established good government (for yours, alas! is not yet established)â€"in that country, in which, ever since that good government was establishedâ€"in which, for the forty years that it has been in existence, public tranquillity has not known what disturbance is,â€"there is no more restriction upon men’s speaking together in public, than upon their eating together in private. People of Spain! do you know this? You scarcely do. But is it not high time you should?*
Link to source (and entire letter)
 

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One of the main reasons why I choose to live in USA is that First Amendment thing. Although the second is starting to grow on me more everyday ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
While this is an interesting observation on an armed populace (much different than today), I think he is wrong about "for the forty years that it has been in existence, public tranquillity has not known what disturbance is" comment, as he leaves out Shay's rebellion, the whiskey rebellion, the civil war in Rhode Island, and a host of other "disturbances" that I cannot recall right now . . .
 
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