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John Milton and Freedom of Speech on Campus

By Daniel F. Sullivan

A few years ago, at a seminar meant to help college presidents think about the issues they face as campus leaders, I read John Milton's Areopagitica: A speech for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the parliament of England. Originally published in 1644, Areopagitica makes a powerful argument for freedom of speech and against censorship in publishing. After twenty years as a college president, having experienced and observed many calls to censor, I've come to believe that there is not much to know on the topic beyond what Milton wrote over 350 years ago. Areopagitica was published in response “to Parliament's ordinance for licensing the press of June 14, 1643.” The effect of the ordinance against which Milton wrote “was to give Archbishop Laud, who was also Chancellor of the University of Oxford, control over every press in England, with power to stop publication of any book contrary to the Doctrine of the Church of England.” This was disturbing to Milton, who wrote, “as good almost kill a man as kill a good book: [he] who kills a man kills a reasonable creature; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself.”
(Adaptado de https://www.questia.com/magazine/1P3-1048971311/milton-s-areopagitica-freedom-of-speech-on-campus. Acessado em 15/05/2019.)
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