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Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World

Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World

by Timothy Garton Ash

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Never in human history was there such a chance for freedom of expression. If we have Internet access, any one of us can publish almost anything we like and potentially reach an audience of millions. Never was there a time when the evils of unlimited speech flowed so easily across frontiers: violent intimidation, gross violations of privacy, tidal waves of abuse. A pastor burns a Koran in Florida and UN officials die in Afghanistan.
Drawing on a lifetime of writing about dictatorships and dissidents, Timothy Garton Ash argues that in this connected world that he calls cosmopolis, the way to combine freedom and diversity is to have more but also better free speech. Across all cultural divides we must strive to agree on how we disagree. He draws on a thirteen-language global online project——conducted out of Oxford University and devoted to doing just that. With vivid examples, from his personal experience of China's Orwellian censorship apparatus to the controversy around Charlie Hebdo to a very English court case involving food writer Nigella Lawson, he proposes a framework for civilized conflict in a world where we are all becoming neighbors.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300161366
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 05/24/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Timothy Garton Ash is Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford; Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University; and a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. He is the winner of the 2017 Charlemagne Prize and has won the Orwell Prize for Journalism.

Table of Contents

Post-Gutenberg 1

Part I Cosmopolis 7

Speech 7

Cosmopolis 18

Cyberspace, CA 94305 20

The Struggle for Word Power 24

Big Dogs 31

Big Cats 47

P2 53

The Power of the Mouse 56

'Innocence of Muslims' and the Lost Innocence of You Tube 62

Ideals 73

Why Should Speech Be Free? 73

How Free Should Speech Be? How Should Free Speech Be? 79

Not by Law Alone 81

Laws and Norms 83

Offended? What's the Harm in That? 86

Reading John Stuart Mill in Beijing 95

Towards a More Universal Universalism 108

Part II User Guide 117

1 Lifeblood: 'We-all human beings- must be free and able to express ourselves, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, regardless of frontiers' 119

Free and Able 120

In Your Own Tongue 122

Seek, Receive and Impact 125

Regardless of Frontiers 127

2 Violence: 'We neither make threats of violence nor accept violent intimidation. 129

The Assassin's Veto 130

Modernising the Brandenburg Test 132

Dangerous Speech 135

Just War? 138

Confronting the Assassin's Veto 140

Cartoons and the Republication Dilemma 143

Practising Peaceful Conflict 148

3 Knowledge: 'We allow no taboos against and seize even' chance for the spread of knowledge'. 152

Scientifically Speaking 152

On Campus 154

Legislating History 157

Everything Open to Everyone? 161

Public-Good via Private Power 167

From Babel to Babble 174

Homo Zappiens 177

4 Journalism: 'We require uncensored, diverse, trustworthy media so we can make well-informed decisions and participate fully in political life'. 180

Media 181

Uncensored, but Not Without Limits 183

Diverse: Media Pluralism between Money and Politics 189

From Daily Me to Daily Kiosk 197

Trustworthy: Who Is a Journalist? What Is Good Journalism? 200

Towards a Networked Pnyx 205

5 Diversity: 'We express ourselves openly and with robust civility about all kinds of human difference'. 207

Openness and Robust Civility 208

Enforcing Civility? 214

Why Mature Democracies Should Move beyond Hate Speech Laws 219

Creating a Civil Society 229

Art and Humour 241

Pornography 246

Civility and Power 250

6 Religion: 'We respect the believer but not necessarily the content of the belief. 253

The Argument for Special Treatment 254

But What Is Religion? 257

Two Kinds of Respect 261

By Law or Custom? 267

The Trouble with Islam 272

Tolerance 280

7 Privacy: 'We must be able to protect our privacy and to counter slurs on our reputations, but not prevent scrutiny that is in the public interest'. 283

Are You Ever Alone? 284

Privacy, Reputation and the Public Interest 286

Battlefields of the Powerful 292

Trial by Twitter 297

Defending Your Reputation 299

A 'Right to Be Forgotten'? 304

Don't Be Zuckered 310

Janus Anonymous 313

8 Secrecy: 'We must be empowered to challenge all limits to freedom of information justified on such grounds as national security'. 319

Security and the Challenge Principle 320

The Price of Secrecy 324

Here We Need Laws 330

Who Will Guard the Guardians? 334

Whislleblowers and Leakers: An Essential Backstop 339

The Trouble with 'Well-Placed Sources' 341

The Importance of Not Being Anonymous 345

9 Icebergs: 'We defend the internet and other systems of communication against illegitimate encroachments by both public and private powers'. 348

Icebergs 348

One Internet, under Whom? 353

Net Neutrality 357

Privatising and Exporting Censorship 360

Ethical Algorithms? 364

Money Speaks (Too Loudly) 367

10 Courage: 'We decide for ourselves and face the consequences'. 370

Courage 371

Two Spirits of Liberty 374

Challenge 379

Notes 383

Bibliography 445

Acknowledgements 465

Index 469


You're best known for your writing on political events around the world, especially in places undergoing turmoil. How does your interest in free speech relate to your past work?
Free speech is a pivotal issue for world politics. It will be crucial for the political evolution of China and hence its relations with the West. It will decide whether a Europe transformed by immigration from majority Muslim countries can combine diversity and freedom. Its absence is both symptom and cause of the parlous condition of the Middle East, not to mention Putin's Russia.
How do you view the United States' role in the global struggle over free speech?
The modern First Amendment tradition makes the US the most powerfully pro-free-speech country in the world. But emerging powers such as India and Brazil are not ready simply to copy it. I argue that the US has to rethink the way it talks about free speech to the world. And it has to practice at home what it preaches abroad, from net neutrality to respecting the privacy of people's e-mail.
Are we more free to write and say what we think than in the past, or less?
Obviously, much depends on who you are, and where. Each age has its own challenges. Three of the biggest threats to free speech today are violent intimidation by Islamists sans frontières, the model of “information sovereignty” promoted by China, and the way money howls through American politics.

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