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Free Speech Bites Podcasts


Explore the development of free speech in Free Speech Bites a new series of podcasts produced by Index in association with SAGE.

In each episode, celebrated philosophy writer Nigel Warburton (Philosophy Bites) and guests explore the concept, why it matters and highlight individuals who advanced the idea of freedom of thought

SUBSCRIBE BELOW, and follow Free Speech Bites on Twitter @FreeSpeechBites for updates on upcoming guests including Irshad Manji, Ma Jian and Martin Rowson

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Episode Archive

ma jian

Free Speech Bites: Ma Jian on political and artistic freedom in China

Novelist Ma Jian, a veteran of the Tiananmen Square protests, talks to Nigel Warburton about political and artistic freedom in China.

Ma Jian is a former winner of an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award. His latest novel, The Dark Road, is out now.


Free Speech Bites: Timothy Garton Ash on global free speech standards

Timothy Garton Ash is Professor of European Studies at Oxford University, and a noted author and commentator. Here he tells Nigel Warburton about his Free Speech Debate project, a forum for discussing global free speech standards in the digital age


Free Speech Bites: DJ Taylor on George Orwell

DJ Taylor is the author of Orwell: The Life, an award-winning biography of journalist and novelist George Orwell. he speaks to Nigel Warburton about Orwell’s nuanced attitude to free speech and his encounters with censorship


Free Speech Bites: Denis MacShane on Tom Paine

Denis MacShane is a politician and journalist. Previously a BBC reporter, he was Labour MP for Rotheram from 1994 until 2012, when he resigned after controversy over expense claims.

Here, he talks to Nigel Warburton about the legacy of Enligtenment philosopher Tom Paine, author of The Rights of Man. McShane also looks at the limits of free speech in the modern era.

Read full transcript here

Natalia Koliada

Free Speech Bites: Natalia Kaliada on the arts in Belarus

Natalia Kaliada is co-founder of the Belarus Free Theatre. The group, formed in 2005, performs provocative political works in a country where it can be lethal to criticise the dictator Alexander Lukashenko. Natalia was forced into exile after the brutal crackdown on Belarus’s opposition after the rigged 2010 presidential elections. Here she speaks to Nigel Warburton about the difficulty of creating art in Europe’s last dictatorship

Read full transcript here


Free Speech Bites: Martin Rowson about humour, satire and offence

Martin Rowson is an award-winning cartoonist, writer and satirist in the tradition of Swift and Gillray. Here he talks to Nigel Warburton about humour, satire and offence saying:

I think there are people crying out to be offended by things

Read full transcript here


Free Speech Bites: Irshad Manji on religion and free speech

Self-described “Muslim refusenik” Irshad Manji campaigns for reform in Islam. Here the feminist author and activist thrashes out the clashes between religion and free speech with Nigel Warburton

Download transcript here

Portraits of Burmese Comedian Zaganar at home - Yangon

Free Speech Bites: Zarganar on the importance of thinking and speaking freely

Zarganar spent years in solitary confinement for satirising Burma’s ruling military junta. The Burmese poet, comic and musician talks to Nigel Warburton about the importance of thinking and speaking freely, even under tyranny.


Free Speech Bites: Stephanie Merritt on Giordano Bruno

Writer Stephanie Merritt explains why renaissance astronomer, mathematician and heretic Giordano Bruno inspired her bestselling “SJ Parris” series. A free speech martyr, Bruno was burned at the stake for challenging the church.

Download transcript here

Jonathan Dimbleby

Free Speech Bites: Jonathan Dimbleby on why free expression matters

Broadcaster and writer Jonathan Dimbleby is also a former Chair of the Index on Censorship board of trustees. In the opening episode of Free Speech Bites, he explains to Nigel Warburton why free speech matters, and the philosophy of John Stuart Mill, whose On Liberty is one of the greatest arguments against censorship.

Download the transcript here