I'm thinking about dissent today and came across these thoughts from human rights activist Natan Sharansky, which ring especially true to me.
Will dissent be permitted? The answer to that question will determine whether the society is a free society or a fear society.Here's an interview PBS Newshour did with Sharansky about his book, The Case for Democracy.
Fear societies are societies in which dissent is banned.
People may believe that there can be a society where dissent is not permitted, but which is nonetheless not a fear society because everyone agrees with one another and therefore no one wants to dissent.
If a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a "fear society" has finally won their freedom.
- Natan Sharansky