Episodes

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I'm Offended20160412

Timothy Garton Ash examines how free speech is being eroded in the place it should be most secure: in universities. He examines the activist practise known as 'no platforming'. It means that one group of students is being prevented from hearing someone they do want to hear, because another group of students doesn't want that voice to be heard. Feminists Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer were both 'no platformed' due to their views on transgender people. Professor Garton Ash argues that the practice goes directly against a core principle of free speech, which is that all views - even offensive ones - must be robustly challenged in well-informed debate and not censored by those who cry 'I'm offended'.

Producer: Nina Robinson

(Illustration by Luis Ruibal).

Media We Need20160414

Timothy Garton Ash asks whether we have the media we need to really exercise our right to freedom of expression? He examines the diversity of voices across the media landscape and wonders whether the ownership structure of Britain's media industry is conducive to free speech. Are we able to understand what is happening in our government so we can exercise clear judgment on public policy? Are we being told the Truth with a capital T? With the advent of the internet, there is a plethora of ways in which we are now communicating, especially using social media networks like Facebook. But is the algorithm used for news feeds showing us only what we want to see, rather than what we need to see?

Producer: Nina Robinson

(Illustration by Luis Ruibal).

Oxygen Of Freedom20160411

Timothy Garton Ash introduces the subject of freedom of speech and why it is more important than ever in today's internet-connected world. Professor Garton Ash sets out the arguments for why we need free speech, including for the sake of diversity, good governance and the search for truth. He argues that as smartphones and the web change our communications, we need a set of principles which govern free speech more than ever as this essential human right comes under attack. Drawing on research behind his book on the subject, he identifies three main threats. The first is what he calls the heckler's veto: if you shout loudly enough you can restrict free speech. The second is the offensiveness veto: if you cry 'I'm offended' you can restrict free speech. The third is the assassin's veto: if you say that, we will kill you.

Produced by Nina Robinson

(Illustration provided by Luis Ruibal).

Respect Me, Respect My Religion20160413

Timothy Garton Ash asks if religion is a special case where freedom of speech should be curtailed. He asks how we can reconcile belief in an absolute revealed truth with the post-Enlightenment freedom to question everything, including religious faith. He proposes that the principle we should adopt is to "respect the believer but not necessarily the content of the belief". Will this be enough to bridge the gap?

Producer: Nina Robinson

(Illustration by Luis Ruibal).

05Big Brother Is Watching20160415

It is often said that our right to free speech is balanced by our right to privacy. Timothy Garton Ash asks how we should strike the right balance between the two. In a world where we are sharing more of our lives online than ever before, should we accept that our privacy rights are no longer as important?

Producer: Nina Robinson

(Illustration by Luis Ruibal).