"The truth is in the hands of the few and not the masses..."
"He needs to live. If he loses his life, what can he do?"
sister of Wei Jingsheng in October 1997
Wei Jingsheng released from prison and exiled!
Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng walks in the alley outside his Beijing home September 29, 1993, during a brief period of freedom. Wei, China's most famous political dissident, flew to the U.S. on November 16, 1997, after being released on medical parole from a 14-year jail term, and is now getting medical treatment at a Detroit hospital.
"We put Wei Jingsheng behind bars, didn't we? Did that damage China's reputation? We haven't released him, but China's image has not been tarnished by that. Our reputation improves day by day!"
"No one can afford to look soft on dissent in this period of political succession. Of all the various dissidents, Wei Jingsheng is the one guy who's gotten up Deng Xiaoping's nose in a big way."
California-based businessman in December 1995
"I am very capable of staying quiet, but if people don't allow me to be, then I can also be very unquiet. This makes me no different from most people in our country."
in July 1997
"For those who are good for nothing in other respects, grabbing power and persecuting other people is the only reliable way of protecting their interests."
in a letter to Chinese President Jiang Zemin in 1983
"It's a very historic day. They have finally come to this - a clash between one man and the state."
during Wei's second trial in December 1995
"A HERO OF OUR TIMES"
by Arthur Miller
The Chinese government has decided in its wisdom to draw the soul of a man and then try to jam it back into him with totally different opinions and views of himself and the world. Having failed to accomplish this extraordinary feat with a prison sentence of 15 years, they slapped him with another sentence of 14 years. Thus, if he won't accept a new soul, the solution is to murder the one he was born with by depriving him of proper food and medical care. And that is what they have been doing.
I have worked in China as the director of "Death of a Salesman" and learned to respect and value greatly my friendships with Chinese people. I am convinced that for most of them by far, this horrifying treatment of this man in a travesty of the revolution and a denial of the norms of civilized society.
Wei Jingsheng's agony is the agony of every man and woman who understands that to be human is to be free to speak one's thoughts.
Whether or not protests can move Beijing, it is vital that the man's incredible courage not be greeted by indifference. I believe Wei Jingsheng speaks for all of us in his insistence, at the risk of his life, that truth is not a trivial, dispensable, disposable thing.
In our most unheroic of times, a hero has risen again.
"Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify oppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.
Arthur Miller is a famous writer and playwright who wrote "Death of a Salesman," "The Crucible," "A Memory of Two Mondays," "After the Fall," "Incident at Vichy," "The Creation of the World," and "Playing for Time."
He staged his play, "Death of a Salesman," in Beijing in 1983.
Long live liberty and human intelligence!"The most beautiful thing in the world is freedom of speech."
"Intellectual freedom is essential to human society... Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships."
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov
Progress, Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom
secretly circulated in Moscow, 1968
"Nothing is at last sacred but the integity of your own mind."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Who dares not speak his free thoughts is a slave."
quoted in Noyes, Views of Religion
"Such a big country, such a big party, and yet they cannot tolerate one or two words of criticism. They're too fragile."
unnamed relative of Wei Jingsheng
in December of 1995
"When he [Wei Jingsheng] was first around in 1979, people were open to criticism of the government. But now, people are living better. They have money, and they have hope. He is just one man. Why are they [government officials] so afraid of him?"
Chinese government worker
in December of 1995
Free Speech, Human Freedom,"The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable. To curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily deprives others of the right to listen to those views."
and the Genius of Democracy
C. Vann Woodward
Woodward Committee, Report on Free Speech
N.Y. Times, January 28, 1975
"Those who won our independence... valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty... that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.
"But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope, and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones... Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty."
Louis D. Brandeis"Freedom of expression is the well-spring of our civilization... The history of civilization is in considerable measure the displacement of error which once held sway as official truth by beliefs which in turn have yielded to other truths. Therefore the liberty of man to search for truth ought not to be fettered, no matter what orthodoxies he may challenge. Liberty of thought soon shrivels without freedom of expression. Nor can truth be pursued in an atmosphere hostile to the endeavor or under dangers which are hazarded only be heroes."
U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Whitney v. California, 247 U.S. 357 (1927)
"Liberty of thought soon shrivels without freedom of expression."
U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Concurring Opinion, Dennis et al. v. U.S. (1951)