Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day: January 15-21

January 20, 1939

“WASHINGTON, Thursday—…The State of Washington provides me with an interesting letter and a newspaper clipping this morning. My correspondent asks that I answer her question in my column. This is the question: “I am enclosing a clipping. Is this called free speech?” The clipping is from a paper called “The Statesmen Index”, of December 30th, and is headed: “The Poet’s Corner.” The name of the poem is “Rejected.” The gist of it is that the present President of the United States “came to the gates of Hell and the Devil answered the bell.” All the faults of the Administration come in for a rhymne, including personal things such as his wife, and finally he is rejected, and these are the closing lines:

“And the Devil stood and his head he bowed
At last he said: “Let’s make it clear,
You’ll have to move, you can’t stay here,
For once you linger with the mob
I’ll have to hunt myself a job.”
Strange to say the author is, “Unknown.”

Certainly, Madame Correspondent, this is freedom of speech. Anyone in this country has a right to state his or her opinion about anyone else. Even if you disagree with the opinion you must uphold this right, because that same right allows you to express your opinion freely as well. You are worried because you were taught to respect the office of the President of the United States regardless of politics, but this is not an attack on the office or even on the Presidency. It is an attack on the man and perhaps it is better to have more freedom and less enforced respect.”

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