Ladies and gentlemen, honored dignitaries, and especially you graduates, I come to you as an emissary from another time, when men and women were free to come and go as they pleased.
“You’re free to go” — I remember those halcyon days when this was so. If someone were to say, “How can you let someone say such things?” the most likely response would be a shrug and “It’s a free country.”
Voltaire was once quoted as saying — although the evidence is scant that he said this exactly — “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
I remember when people said such things. How long ago was that? It seems a very long time. When did speaking your mind become so dangerous? Or was it always dangerous to say certain things, and it’s only the certain things that have evolved?