By Joseph Brean, National Post, Mar. 17, 2012
Discussion of You Can’t Read This Book
To judge by the loudest headlines and the most retweeted quips, censorship has been having a bad run in the last while, with failure heaped upon failure.
Overseas, the Arab Spring was credited as much to free-flowing social media as to the rebels who used it, and the campaign for dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei made him more famous than ever. A request by the U.S. government that science journals withhold details of bird flu research because of bio-terrorism fears caused a furore that is likely to end with their publication. And in Canada, the federal human rights law against Internet hate speech is about to be repealed and/or judicially overturned as censorious overreaching that violates the Charter right to free expression.
The Internet has made us feel free, and in its glare, the censor has come to seem like a foolish, out-dated, beady-eyed accountant of ideas. Censors are like poisoners, according to Nick Cohen, author of a new book on the subject. They can be successful or famous, but not both.