“The first casualties of war are free speech and free press”

While digging around in history I noticed this exact phrase comes from the Free Speech League of America, during 9 April 1917 “Espionage and Interference with Neutrality” Hearings of U.S. Congress:

Source: Espionage and Interference with Neutrality: Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Sixty-fifth Congress, First Session on H.R. 291, April 9 and 12, 1917

Also noticed that English general and statesman (Cromwell) quote, which sends me right back to digging around some more, this time in the records of U.S. District Court for New Jersey – 25 F. Supp. 127 (1938):

Eugene Lyons, whom we understand to be an experienced and originally sympathetic newspaper reporter, ends his most interesting book, Assignment in Utopia, in these words: “No plan for economic salvation must be accepted if it is diseased with disdain for life. Ultimately Russia will not be judged by how much bread it has given its people — by that standard other countries and other systems may be far more successful — but by how much freedom, self-respect, equality, truth and human kindness it has brought into the world.”

Make bread, make speech… what if it’s not freedom to make either (quantity) that matters most? Instead it seems like we should focus somehow on the quality measures, such as respect, equality, truth and kindness. After all, is delivering food for body really so much different that it can be dismissed while delivering unregulated food for mind?

Just a few days after the appeal by the Free Speech League of America in April 1917 for the right to criticize government, an Executive Order 2594 was published and a new Committee on Public Information (CPI) formed under President Wilson.

The Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Secretary of Navy and a civilian (charged with executive direction) almost immediately started pushing out official propaganda based on KKK themes and imagery of that time (given how Wilson had restarted the KKK in 1915 under “America First”):

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