We live in a world where Lady Chatterley’s Lover is an A Level text, and where documentaries about oral sex are shown on television. Even so, the battle for freedom of speech has not been won. More fiercely than ever in England, it rages on other fronts. There are panics over the promotion of terrorism, and the alleged sexualisation of children. Above all, there is the official war on “hate.” In the name of good community relations, or simply to protect minorities from being upset, whole areas of debate that once were free are now policed. Dissidents risk punishments that range between formal imprisonment and unemployability. In this set of often controversial, essays, Sean Gabb puts the case for freedom of speech in the changed circumstances of today. His subjects include holocaust denial, the possession of child pornography, the rights of BNP members, and the persecution of Emma West, the South London “Tram Lady.”
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