[From the Herald of Freedom of Dec. 30, 1842: Miscellaneous Writings, 247]
We speak of the "freedom" of it, and of "liberty of Speech," as though it were even to be claimed that the human voice should not be regulated at all times and under all circumstances, by the arbitrary caprice of tyrants. The human voice is free of course. It is as naturally and inalienably free of every power but the man's that utters it, as God is free, and language would hardly be marred more by the phrase freedom of God than by such expressions as Liberty of Speech. Who should think of regulating a man's speech but himself? What has he got it for, but to use at his discretion, and what has he discretion for, if not to govern himself with, in speech and thought. If a man has not discretion enough to govern his own utterance, how can he govern his neighbor's? How can any number of men, each and all incompetent to regulate themselves, regulate others? Those others meantime competent to regulate them, though incapable of bridling their own tongues - or rather of guiding them without bridle, as the Parthian manages his unreigned steed. Human speech is sovereign. Nobody can govern it but the individual it belongs to. Nobody ought to think of it. Every body has his hands full with his own, which he can manage and ought to, and which he cannot innocently commit to the manage of another. It can be done. Speech is good for nothing unless it be done. Men better be without tongues and organs and powers, than not use them sovereignly. If it be not safe to entrust self-government of speech to mankind, there had better not be any mankind. Slavery is worse than non-existence. A society involving it is worse than none. The earth had better go unpeopled than inhabited by vassals. How it must look to spectator eyes - tenanted by hampered immortality, with clipped wings and hand-cuffed wrists and fettered spirits. What angel would ever light upon it but that dragon-pinioned one who as John Milton has poeticized - lighted once from Hell on its "bare outside." Better have them kept bare to this day, than peopled by a tongue-tied race of men.
Rogers was a radical abolitionist/pacifist/feminist who edited the New Hampshire paper Herald of Freedom. I've done a lot of work on him; I'm gathering it up into an e-book which I'll put up in the next few days on amazon and googledocs.