Margaret Sanger, " [Ford Hall Forum Address] ," 16 Apr 1929.
Typed speech. Source: Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Margaret Sanger Microfilm, S71:157 .
Sanger prepared this speech for Boston's Ford Hall Forum on Free Speech, but because public discussion of birth control was banned in that town, Sanger stood on the stage with a gag over her mouth while Arthur M. Schlesinger read her speech. For other versions, see LCM 129:484 and 487.
To inflict silence upon a woman is indeed a drastic punishment. But there are certain advantages to be derived from it nevertheless. Some people are so busy talking that they do no thinking. Silence inflicts thoughts upon us. It makes us ponder over what we have lost--and what we have gained. Words are after all only the small change of thought.
If we have convictions, and cannot express them in words, then let us act them out, let us live them! Free speech is a fine thing, it should be fought for and defended.
If my voice is silenced by the hypocritical powers of reaction, in Boston, so much the worse for me, but so much the better for you for this act of suppression is to test the courage of your convictions, if you desire for free speech.
It becomes your cue to speak, to act, to demonstrate the valor of your thought.
Sometimes I think we all talk too much. We read too much. We listen too much. But we act too little. We live too little. The authorities of Boston may gag me, they do not want you to hear the truth about Birth Control. But they cannot gag the truth. We do not need words. We do not need to talk, because the truth speaks for itself. Use your eyes, use your ears, use your intelligence and you can find out for yourself all that I could tell you. You all know that I have been gagged. I have been suppressed. I have been arrested numerous times. I have been hauled off to jail. Yet every time, more people have listened to me, more have protested, more have lifted their own voices. Here have responded with courage and bravery.
As a pioneer fighting for a Cause I believe in free speech. As a propagandist I see immense advantages in being gagged. It silences me, but it makes millions of others talk and think the cause in which I live.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project