Civilization is a conversation, and moral progress is always the most shocking part of that conversation. Every great moral advance in human history has been met with shocked revulsion by significant existing power groups.
The great abolitionist Wilberforce spend more than three decades making the case for ending slavery, before the British Parliament finally voted to outlaw the hideous practice on the third of the globe ruled by Great Britain. John Milton wrote his passionate defense of free speech in 1644 – freedom of the press was not achieved in England until 1695, more than half a century later.
Equal rights for women and minorities, freedom of trade, separation of church and state, the right to divorce – each of these advances was considered an appalling break with virtuous traditions – and they all have one thing in common. One thing. In the absence of free speech, these advances would never have occurred.
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