There comes a time when you have to stand up and say “I’ve had it.”

Well, I’ve pretty much had it up to here with people telling me to shut my piehole, grab a flag and start marching in step. I have no intention of doing any such thing. I am an American patriot, and dissent is an act of patriotism. America was founded by an act of dissent. Dissent is written into our national DNA. It is one of those things that makes us, us, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let someone tell me I can’t use the right to stand up and raise hell that my political ancestors, and countless men and women both in the military and on the home front, have fought for and died for. Heck, most of us are fighting for it right here and right now.

I happen to think I’m in some pretty good company. Take a look at who’s backing me up on this — and who, conversely, has something to say about what happens when that right to dissent is quashed.

Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. U.S. Constitution, Amendment I

What country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Thomas Jefferson

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Thomas Jefferson

It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority. Benjamin Franklin

Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. Benjamin Franklin

We are reluctant to admit that we owe our liberties to men of a type that today we hate and fear — unruly men, disturbers of the peace, men who resent and denounce what Whitman called ‘the insolence of elected persons’ — in a word, free men. Gerald W. Johnson

Do not regard the critics as questionable patriots. What were Washington and Jefferson and Adams but profound critics of the colonial status quo. Aldai Stevenson

Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots. Barbara Ehrenreich

May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. Dwight D. Eisenhower

In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but its effects. J. William Fulbright

Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive. John F. Kennedy

You do not become a “dissident” just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. Vaclav Havel

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. Herman Goering

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear. Harry S Truman

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. George Orwell

The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don’t agree with. Eleanor Holmes Norton

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it. Edward R. Murrow

Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate. Hubert H. Humphrey

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. John Stuart Mill

The most tyrannical of governments are those which make crimes of opinions, for everyone has an inalienable right to his thoughts. Baruch Spinoza

I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. James Baldwin

My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. Carl Schurz

“My country, right or wrong,” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.” G. K. Chesterton

Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our lifetime. Jacob Bronowski

Discussion in America means dissent. James Thurber

I like the noise of democracy. James Buchanan

Cross-posted at Daily Kos, Booman Tribune, My Left Wing, and Omir the Storyteller

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