Why don’t we just… recognise that our free speech is good for all? (Big Issue North)
15 Oct 2019

Jodie Ginsberg in Big Issue North


Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship, wrote an opinion piece for Big Issue North:

“Free speech” has become something of a dirty word in recent years. While most people like to say they are in favour of free speech, when you drill down into the areas where speech should be curtailed, it is apparent that views on where the lines should be and are drawn differ widely. And it is in debates about those lines that a gap has opened up in the defence of free speech, into which the far right has gleefully stepped.

“Free speech” is now the rallying cry for those who want to defend bigoted and hateful views, and who want to defend the right to use terms like “cockroach” and “vermin”, while also denying the rights of those they denigrate to speak in their defence. And as free speech becomes increasingly linked with those who espouse intolerance and division, so free speech as a universal value becomes tarnished.

This has meant in turn that those who would have traditionally championed free speech have become increasingly willing to tolerate or even advocate censorship as a social good. But censorship is never a social good. Whether imposed by states, big business, or the mob, censorship always ends up targeting those who are already oppressed and marginalised…

Read the full article: Big Issue North 14-20 October


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