Search results

How did we get here and why does it matter?

This book asks who gets to exercise free speech and who does not, and examines what happens when powerful voices think they have been silenced. It asks how the spaces and structures of 'speech' – mass media, the lecture theatre, the public event, the political rally and perhaps most frequently the internet – shape this debate. It explores the long histories of this contemporary moment, to think about how acts such as censorship, boycotts and protests around free speech developed historically and how these histories inform the present. The book first explores two opposing sides in this debate: starting with a defence of speech freedoms and examining how speech has been curbed and controlled, and countering this with an examination of the way that free speech has been weaponised and deployed as a bad faith argument by people wishing to commit harm. It then considers two key battlefields in the free speech wars: first, the university campus and secondly, the internet. This book is the first to explore this moment in the free speech wars. It hopes to equip readers to navigate this complex, highly charged topic: rather than taking a side in the debate, it encourages the reader to be suspicious – or at least sceptical – of the way that this topic is being framed and articulated in the media today. The free speech wars should act as context, provocation, stimulation and – hopefully – a route through this conflict.

Cartoons and British imperialism during the Attlee Labour government
Charlotte Lydia Riley

This chapter examines the often uncertain attitudes of British cartoonists towards imperialism in the post-war, Attlee period (1945–1951). This period is often perceived as one of declining imperial power for Britain, marked by the independence of India and the loss of Palestine. However, the imperial policies of the Attlee Labour government were not simply those of managed decline. In this period the Colonial Office – under Arthur Creech Jones, the Colonial Secretary – pursued a series of ambitious projects of growth and development in the empire, from social welfare projects to the notorious ‘Groundnut Scheme’. Far from being ‘anti-imperial’, Labour embraced its new colonial role, rejecting immediate independence for the African colonies in favour of a gradual move towards decolonisation. Cartoon representations of Labour’s imperial policies in this period focus on several key themes. Firstly, the Labour Party’s reputation for anti-imperialism, and the Attlee government’s actual ideological stance towards empire; secondly, the colonial development projects (both successful and unsuccessful) pursued by the Colonial Office; thirdly, decolonisation, independence, and colonial nationalist movements. This chapter explores these three themes, considering how accurately Labour’s imperial policies are depicted, and how prominently colonial concerns feature in cartoon representations of the Labour government in general.

in Comic empires
Abstract only
Charlotte Lydia Riley

This introduction sets out some of the key critical questions that will be explored in this book, and offers a framing for the broader debate, which focuses on the balancing of free speech rights and the ways in which free speech rights are increasingly invoked to try to defend speech or behaviour that should be critiqued or challenged. The introduction first examines the legal and constitutional right to ‘free speech’, as defended in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the defence of which is critical to democracy and free political expression around the world. It then explores the ways in which ‘freedom of speech’ has often taken on a blurrier, more nebulous meaning, which is as much to do with asserting freedom from criticism as it is with defending the right to freedom from censorship by governments. It then introduces some of the key spaces and concepts around which freedom of speech arguments have coalesced – notably ‘safe spaces’ and ‘no-platforming’ vs. ideas about ‘hate speech’ and ‘political correctness’. The introduction finishes with a more personal reflection on the questions around free speech: who gets to make these claims, whose rights are defended by institutions, and what sort of speech is tolerated within the bounds of free speech and what is seen as off limits.

in The free speech wars