… is from page 181 of an excerpt from George Jacob Holyoake ’s April 1872 Reasoner essay, “Free Thought – Its Conditions, Agreements, and Secular Results,” as it is reprinted in the 2015 reader, Individualism , edited by George H. Smith and Marilyn Moore:
Without Fair Criticism, thought could never be tested or improved. Thought is often foolish, often mischievous, and sometimes wicked; but he alone who submits it to free criticism gives guarantee to society that he means well, though he may be in error, since Criticism must bring down upon him exposure and punishment if he be in fault or foolish. He who perverts Free-thinking into loose thinking – he degrades free speech into a scream of passion, or makes it an echo of folly, is a traitor to both, and Criticism is the Court where the treason is tried and punished. Criticism is the corrector of erroneous thought or abuse of freedom.