Books: Is it naive to believe that we live in a time of unparalleled free speech? Patrick Kane investigates one journalist’s take on the subject

By Patrick Kane
Varsity
Friday 3rd February 2012.
Review of You Can’t Read this Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom – Nick Cohen

I remember almost every moment of my Cambridge admissions interview – the awkward pauses, the stammering and the sheer terror. When answering a question on the importance of free speech, I cited the oft-referenced quote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. My interviewer immediately stopped and asked me whether I really believed that.

Nick Cohen’s You Can’t Read This Book asks the same question, forcing us to examine our consciences and to take another look at free speech, both in historical terms, and in the world today. Cohen challenges the reader to reassess whether Western culture actually embraces free expression, or whether it shies away from the challenges that it inevitably brings. The journalist pulls no punches covering state intrusion, religion and the cost of delivering the truth to the masses: it’s clearly an issue that the author feels strongly about, judging by the venom he pours upon numerous institutions that come under his careful examination, but his skilful manipulation of the written word makes for arguments that combine the theoretical and the anecdotal.
Carry on reading

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8 thoughts on “Books: Is it naive to believe that we live in a time of unparalleled free speech? Patrick Kane investigates one journalist’s take on the subject

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