The J-school requires all American students to take a class on First Amendment law. (Foreign students take a class called “The U.S. as a Foreign Country.")
In the First Amendment law class, we’re reading a lot of court cases, one of which had a really stirring quote from someone I’d never heard of before: Judge Learned Hand.
"The First Amendment presupposes that right conclusions are more likely to be gathered out of a multitude of tongues, than through any kind of authoritative selection. To many this is, and always will be, folly; but we have staked upon it our all." -- Judge Learned Hand in _United States v. Associated Press, 1943_
Reading his page at Wikipedia , his judicial history, and the notable quotes he’s generated, I’m really impressed. He sounds like a very smart, very passionate judge, and he manages to articulate his take on our American experiment with wit and clarity:
It is still in the lap of the gods whether a society can succeed which is based on 'civil liberties and human rights' conceived as I have tried to describe them; but of one thing at least we may be sure: the alternatives that have so far appeared have been immeasurably worse.
I’ve just got one question remaining, which Wikipedia fails to answer. Where the hell do you get a name like “Billings Learned Hand?”