freedom of speech and of the press

There is no inherent right in the individual to voice his thought in public speech or in writing. When a man becomes articulate he must answer to the State and, if he be a Catholic, to the Church. Consequently, the State and the Church may regulate the public expression of thought. Speech and writing must first of all correspond to the truth; and after that they must be governed by justice and charity. Where the rights of others to reputation are concerned, an individual is not always free to publish even the truth. Laws of libel should probably be more, rather than less, stringent. Also, though an assertion not involving the reputation of another may be true, its publication may be inexpedient in the light of the common good. For instance, the broadcasting of sexual facts when children are listening in may be inadvisable. Both Church and State have a right to censor the speech and the writings of their subjects. This right, however, should be exercised with great care. Censorship may lead to spreading information in ways doing more harm than would the open discussion of such facts; and the suppression of open discussion may lead to underground discontent resulting in ultimate revolt. Particularly in the political field, where there is usually room for difference of opinion, freedom of speech and of the press is likely to act as a safety valve, and be the lesser of two evils. Progress frequently comes from the clash of opinions. Governments, civil and ecclesiastical, may wisely adopt something of God's tolerance.

New Catholic Dictionary

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