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Mario Savio on Free Speech

(Excerpt from interview by Doug Gilles, December 1994)

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, 12/1/2014


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