In this blistering polemic, veteran journalist Mick Hume presents an uncompromising defence of freedom of expression, which he argues is threatened in the West not by jackbooted censorship but by a creeping culture of conformism and you-can't-say-that.
The cold-blooded murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in January 2015 brought a deadly focus to the issue of free speech. Leaders of the free-thinking world united in condemning the killings, proclaiming ‘Je suis Charlie'. But it wasn't long before many commentators were arguing that the massacre showed the need to apply limits to free speech and to restrict the right to be offensive.
It has become fashionable not only to declare yourself offended by what somebody else says, but to use the ‘offence card' to demand that they be prevented from saying it. Social media websites such as Twitter have become the scene of ‘twitch hunts' where online mobs hunt down trolls and other heretics who express the ‘wrong' opinion. And trigger warnings and other measures to ‘protect' sensitive students from potentially offensive material have spread from American universities across the Atlantic and the Internet.
Hume argues that without freedom of expression, our other liberties would not be possible. Against the background of the historic fight for free speech, Trigger Warning identifies the new threats facing it today and spells out how unfettered freedom of expression, despite the pain and the problems it entails, remains the most important liberty of all.
"This is an important book, and couldn't be more timely. It's strong-minded, unafraid, determined to knock down all the various specious arguments against free speech, unapologetic about insisting on the value of free expression, and terrifically well argued. In these weak-minded times it's good to have so uncompromising a defence." (Salman Rushdie)
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Taught me a new perspective
- miss k l watkinson
preaching to the choir
A very one sided reflection of recent events, framed around the response to Charlie Hebdo incident. Its a lengthy opinion piece which would be recommended to anyone with social libertarian views, however I suspect that his core readers won't learn much new from the book that they haven't already learned from Mick Humes various columns, especially his work on Spiked. It is nice to have my beliefs reinforced, however it does feel a little shallow
I had a bit of a warning sign when i heard the phrase "when i started writing this book late last year" and i think the six month schedule might have been too short. The book relies quite heavily on filler (often the historical context was repetitive and felt laborious) plus the constant reference to people as "Reverse Voltaires" just sounded bitter... However the whole experience was pleasant enough
I think interviewing the "Reverse Voltaires" would have been very interesting, asking the people he perceived as enemies of free speech some difficult questions would have dug deeper into the issue