Freedom of Speech Anecdote


When Dr Samuel Johnson had finished his great lexicography, the first real English dictionary, he was visited by various delegations of people to congratulate him including a delegation of London’s respectable womanhood who came to his parlour in Fleet Street and said ‘Doctor, we congratulate you on your decision to exclude all indecent words from your dictionary.’ Whereupon he said ‘Ladies, I congratulate you on your persistence in  looking them up.’

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4 thoughts on “Freedom of Speech Anecdote

  1. Samuel Johnson released A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755. The earliest printed evidence of this anecdote appeared in April 1785, in an article titled “Dr. Johnson at Oxford, and Lichfield” in the London periodical “The Gentleman’s Magazine”. Start Page 288, Quote Page 288, Column 2, Printed by John Nichols for D. Henry, London.

  2. This anecdote made me think about the fact that there are not only people who are determined to offend but also those who are determined to be offended. It reminded me of the following quotation: “If people are determined to be offended, if they will climb up on the ladder, balancing precariously on their own toilet system, to be upset by what they see through the neighbour’s bathroom window, there’s nothing you can do about that.”

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