Paul Whickman

Despite being on the teaching front line, academics are commonly excluded from debates concerning the supposed ‘free speech’ crisis on campuses. This chapter offers an academic perspective, arguing that the increasingly common perception of students as sensitive or censorious is not borne out in the classroom. This chapter is particularly inspired by experiences over the past five years in teaching on literary censorship, offence and ‘freedom of speech’ in literature from the seventeenth century to the present day. Following this anecdotal experience, this chapter turns to argue that much of the furore concerning free speech on university campuses comes from a position of bad faith; to insist, as many commentators do, that no topic should be off-limits, is commonly not applied to the very concept of ‘freedom of speech’ itself, despite its loose definition and weighty cultural baggage. In addition, it argues that freedom of speech, like all ‘freedoms’, involves being freed from things as much as it involves being left free to do them. This has important teaching implications. To encourage the ‘freest’ speech in the classroom is to discourage monopoly of conversation; this requires a respectful, diverse environment. It concludes that the weaponisation of ‘free speech’ commonly undermines itself as it is demonstrably more concerned with the preservation of the voices of particularly privileged groups than in encouraging plurality of opinion.

in The free speech wars
Victoria Stiles

This chapter draws on research focusing on the less spectacular, more subtle methods of control over the book market which were exercised by institutions operating within Nazi Germany. The aim is not to undermine the utility of this particular historical context as an example in free speech debates, but to widen the scope for more nuanced comparisons. Due to the number of institutions involved, the complexity of the market for new and second-hand books in Germany, and the need to preserve the impression of intellectual and consumer freedom, top-down methods of censorship could not have been expected to have a transformative effect on German reading habits. These could only work alongside methods to create more discerning readers, who, it was hoped, would assemble home libraries of ‘recommended’ material and could be trained to approach unsanctioned voices in a distanced and critical manner. Various contextualising mechanisms arose within new writing and marketing material, while the pre-existing filtering processes of publishers, booksellers and regulators became rapidly coordinated; whether this took place through deliberate collusion or semi-independently, the censorious effects were profound. These filtering and contextualisation processes – and the appeals to intellectual rigour and bias-correction that accompanied them – have clear parallels with modern-day concerns around how audiences are guided towards ‘related’ material by content providers, how ‘outsider’ voices can be packaged in a way that strips them of their cultural and intellectual capital, and how certain perspectives can be consistently excluded from the ‘marketplace of ideas’ even when no centralised control is being exercised.

in The free speech wars
Janna Kraus

Unlike many other European countries, Switzerland has managed to fly under the radar when it comes to critical discussions of free speech. Heralded as the epitome of democracy and neutrality, Switzerland’s dominating right-wing parties, questionable policies and sinking journalistic standards rarely figure in the broader international discourse. This is partially due to asynchronous political and historical developments as well as the relatively low importance of Switzerland as a global player, but mostly it is due to the unrelenting and very successful purveying of national myths (neutrality, direct democracy and autonomy). This chapter shows how free speech arguments building on these myths are being used to further right-wing policies, propagate hate speech and embolden perpetrators of journalistic smear campaigns. The right-wing SVP party has dominated the political landscape since the mid-1990s with its anti-EU platform. Any opposition to its isolationist agenda has been framed as detrimental to the autonomy and independence of Switzerland and as a threat to the freedom of speech of conservative and right-wing politicians. After the hard-won (partial) victory in strengthening the law for hate-speech protection, right-wing parties are seeking to roll back this protection by popular vote by arguing that any restriction of hate speech is an attack of free speech among other civil liberties. Journalistic smear campaigns are regularly used in an attempt to silence (female) public figures while ironically defaming them as enemies of free speech. Among these are university professors and politicians such as Franziska Schutzbach, Jolanda Spiess-Hegglin and Tamara Funiciello. Although these campaigns are usually initiated by right-wing media outlets, mainstream media channels regularly participate and further their agenda.

in The free speech wars
When it’s about racism
Omar Khan

There are two commonly made claims about free speech and racism. The first, ultra-libertarian claim is that all racist speech, and indeed all speech, however awful, must be allowed. This position has some, though relatively few, real-world defenders, as few would countenance certain kinds of cartoons or arguments being published, for example in terms of racism or, say, child pornography. Instead, most of those who purport to be defending free speech as a matter of principle are instead defending a second, different assertion: that a particular speech act is not in fact racist. This is, or should be, viewed as an empirical dispute. It is true that sometimes opponents of a particular speech act focus on principled claims about free speech per se, arguing that not all speech should be allowed, and that free speech is not an unassailable principle that can never be trumped by other considerations (such as decency or harm). That is a fairly standard and arguably correct argument, but it sometimes mistakes the relevant terrain of dispute: defenders of a particular speech act should instead be viewed as denying that the speech act in question is in fact racist. This chapter explores these two positions. It also argues that there is no easy distinction between racist speech acts and racist actions in the world. This is not because there is no distinction between speech and action but because of the meaning of racism, which is fundamentally an argument for action.

in The free speech wars
Kamarulnizam Abdullah and Ridzuan Abdul Aziz

Threats posed by the current religiously inspired terrorist groups leave Malaysia with no choice but to adapt to new strategies and approaches. Not only have threats become more global in terms of networking and influences, but also the use of Islam to justify attacks produces great challenges for the country and its security enforcement. Malaysia’s promotion of moderation, or wasatiyah, as part of its counterterrorism campaign has been widely accepted by the international community. At home, the campaign of winning hearts and minds continues as an essential strategy of the government. Malaysia’s success in countering major terror threats since independence has also been credited to the role played by the police’s Special Branch (SB) Unit and the existence of preventive laws. Yet when those laws were repealed, amid a changing political climate and democracy in the country, the enforcement authorities were forced to re-strategize their intelligence gathering and to come to grips with the new legal processes, which require reasonable evidence to be presented during trials to avoid dismissal of the charges. At the same time, the SB is also upgrading its tactical skills and surveillance technology, given modern terrorists’ adaptive capabilities with a loosely connected decentralized network.

in Non-Western responses to terrorism
James W. Peterson

NATO’s admission of three classes of a total of twelve former communist states and republics took place in the years 1999, 2004, and 2009. Each of the admitted states had undergone a preparation process known as the Partnership for Peace. The Russian reaction was very negative, as they strengthened their own military in response and also complained that NATO had now moved to their doorstep. At the alliance’s Bucharest Summit in 2008, NATO made the strategically important decision to deny admission to both Georgia and Ukraine. This denial may have strengthened the Russian resolve to invade the first in 2008 and the second in 2014. After the Russian absorption of Crimea, NATO tactics bolstered the position of other vulnerable states but also angered Russian leaders.

in Russian-American relations in the post-Cold War world
George Joffé

Since the 1980s Algeria has had to respond to political extremism. Following the ‘Berber Spring’ in 1980, it had to react to the Bou Yali rebellion. Then, in October 1988, countrywide discontent and an organized Islamist movement challenged the government’s claim to embody the legitimacy of the Algerian revolution by leading the struggle for national independence. In 1991, the Algerian army, fearing that the Islamist movements might win elections, took control. Within a year it faced a complex insurrection in which some groups sought to restore the electoral process and others attempted to replace the state with a caliphate. Algeria’s strategy in this struggle has evolved from counterinsurgency during its 1990s civil war to suppression of ‘residual terrorism’ afterwards. Although this forced the groups concerned into the Sahara and the Sahel, it did not eliminate them, so Algeria has been forced to attempt to influence group behaviour in northern Mali, despite pressure from the US and France for direct engagement. One approach has been to organize a regional response, despite tensions between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara. However, the Libyan crisis has pushed the country into reluctant engagement with Western paradigms of confronting non-state terrorism and violence.

in Non-Western responses to terrorism
Political differences yield to economic rivalry
James W. Peterson

Both America and Russia, for different reasons, decided to undertake a policy pivot towards Asia. For President Obama, such a pivot may have represented a needed change from preoccupation with tough issues in the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan. President Putin may have looked East in an effort to get away from constant preoccupation with issues related to Crimea and the eastern edge of Europe. The Asian-Pacific Economic Community (APEC) offered a common forum of communication for both wth other Asian states. However, both powers had different historical reasons for pursuing the overture to Asian states. For the United States, a major defense agreement with South Korea was a result of the Korean War of the 1950s, while its long engagement in the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 70s provided it with additional historical experiences in the region. Russia concerned itself with intensified trade relations and also defined the region to include Central Asian states that had formerly been republics in the Soviet Union. U.S. troops had been a presence in the region for decades, and the multi-state controversy over Chinese actions in the South China Sea also bore in part a defensive component.

in Russian-American relations in the post-Cold War world
A matter of discourse
Oscar Palma

The use of the concept of terrorism in Colombia, especially regarding who is a terrorist, has changed over the years according to the discourse, making it difficult to gain a singular concrete understanding of the phenomenon. Understanding terrorism, and the responses that the Colombian state has created to address it, requires identifying how specific agents have been categorized as terrorists according to the context. This chapter argues that instead of being an objective and continuous reality through the history of Colombia’s conflicts, terrorism has appeared as a result of the construction of discourses that have positioned specific agents as terror organizations. This categorization is not a simple matter of semantics; it has various policy implications related to the forms in which the state has responded to violent actors.

in Non-Western responses to terrorism
Duality of détente in the 1970s and neo-Cold War in the 1980s
James W. Peterson

During the late Cold War there was a serious effort by leaders in both capitals to defuse the tension and conflict that characterized their relationship during the 1950s and 60s. Commitments by both sides to the details of soft power approaches such as negotiating arms agreements such as SALT and the Helsinki Accords eased the climate of hostility somewhat, while the rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, with his emphasis on perestroika and other aspects of reform, resulted in considerable retraction of the Soviet military both in size and from various points of involvement such as Afghanistan. However, there was usually either continuing underlying neo-Cold War tension between the two or vacillation between steps forward and backward. The initial Soviet move into Afghanistan combined with emergence of Marxist forces in locations such as Nicaragua kept American leaders in a state of military readiness. Provocative moves such as the build-up of the American nuclear arsenal under President Reagan in the 1980s were combatitive in tone with regard to Soviet leaders. Thus, positive and negative features combined in an uneasy mix at the end of the Cold War.

in Russian-American relations in the post-Cold War world