Mario Savio on Free Speech
(Excerpt from interview by Doug Gilles, December
I had a very bad stammer, the worst stammer that
I absolutely have ever encountered. I stammered for years very, very badly, right up
through high school. It started to subside ... on the last day of high school, I delivered
the valedictory. I stumbled on the first word and then the rest came out smooth; and then
thereafter, over a period of a couple of years the stammer gradually disappeared. An
unusual pattern. ...
[So] to me, in addition to its political
meaning, and its moral and philosophical meaning, the Free Speech Movement was a pun: my
free speech movement, the free movement of my speech. So very much I was deeply,
viscerally involved in the idea of free speech.
I have to say that for me the deepest free
speech quote is what was attributed to Diogenes. And he said, "The most beautiful
thing in the world is the freedom of speech." And those words are in me, they're sort
of burned into my soul, because for me free speech was not a tactic, not something to win
for political ... To me, freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity
of what a human being is. If you cannot speak... I mean, that's what marks us off. That's
what marks us off from the stones and the stars. You can speak freely. It is almost
impossible for me to describe. It is the thing that marks us as just below the angels. I
don't want to push this beyond where it should be pushed, but I feel it.
This page last changed 16 July, 2001