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State Papers and Addresses of Governor Herbert L. O'Conor
Volume 409, Page 360   View pdf image (33K)
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360 State Papers and Addresses

MARYLAND PRESS. ASSOCIATION LUNCHEON

Hotel Emerson, February 15, 1941

Baltimore

IN all the wars and turmoil that rage throughout the world today, there is
one fundamental consideration involved. That is the preservation of De-
mocra'cy which, in its highest form as developed in this Country, means
liberties and rights and privileges that have become a part of the very fiber
of our American life. It seems inconceivalbe that we should ever lose these
rights and liberties, and yet France and Poland and Holland and Belgium, and
other Democratic people have lost them.

In the preservation of Democracy there stand in this Country two sturdy
bulwarks of defense, one official, the other unofficial, but of possibly even
greater importance than that set up in the law of the land. As the official
preserver of our American system, we have the courts of the land, which
interpret the law without fear, free from pressure of majority groups, entirely
unbiased. To the courts any minority groups may look, with entire confidence,
for the preservation of their rights, and just as so long as minority groups
can look with confidence to our courts, so long will Democracy survive in the
exalted form in which we have been privileged to know it here in America.

On the unofficial side, the free press of our Country always has been, as
I have mentioned above, possibly of even greater importance for the preserva-
tion of our liberties than the courts themselves. The people of America, or of
any other country, in the final analysis will get pretty much the kind of
government that they are willing to accept. Even here in our own Country,
if perchance the people come to a state of mind where they are willing to
accept less than the rights and privileges that have always been theirs, then
it is safe to assume that they will get just the amount of liberty that they
demand.

With Democracy throughout the world* making its final, desperate stand
against dictator-led onslaughts, this unofficial safeguard of our liberties, the
press of our Country, including the one hundred or more splendid publications
in our own State of Maryland, are on trial along with Democracy. Only as
long as the press of our Country, and of any other democratic nation, remains
entirely free, free to publish and to criticize, free from official repression or
coercion, only so long, we may be sure, will Democracy survive.

The first step towards autocracy, whether it be Communist, Nazi, Fascist
or under any other guise, is to shackle the press, to control its utterances and
opinions, to use it as a medium for propaganda rather than for the free
dissemination of information.

You know only too well that America is the one Country in the world
today where complete news of the world developments is available constantly

 

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State Papers and Addresses of Governor Herbert L. O'Conor
Volume 409, Page 360   View pdf image (33K)
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