The government bans unacceptable speakers from entering the country. Courts jail ‘hate preachers’. Social media companies delete ‘offensive’ accounts. Companies sack workers for ‘inappropriate’ comments. Student unions no-platform feminist ‘transphobes’. Twitter mobs hound people off social media. Academics set up a journal to allow researchers, fearful for their jobs, to publish anonymously.
Is freedom of speech under threat in Britain? Are we living in particularly censorious times? How does the debate about free speech relate to the growth of identity politics? What should be the limits to freedom of expression? Does the promotion of free speech undermine campaigns to limit bigotry and hatred? How can we encourage public debate about controversial issues when many find any discussion of such issues offensive?
Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster. He has presented Analysis on BBC Radio 4 and Nightwaves on BBC Radio 3. He has written and presented a number of radio and TV documentaries including Disunited Kingdom, Are Muslims Hated?, Islam, Mullahs and the Media, Skullduggery and Man, Beast and Politics. He is the author of The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics, Multiculturalism and its Discontents: Rethinking Diversity After 9/11, From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy and Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate.