For freedom of speech, these are troubling times

“There is a critically important distinction – that the law seeks to protect – between causing “distress”, which may be a crime, and causing “offence”, which may not. The distinction is not easy for the layman to define, and the two are only too easy to elide. And this happens too often, not because of the laws against hate speech themselves, but because of the prevailing climate in which the law now operates. There is a growing number of people who believe that you should be able to say what you like, but only so long as they agree with you. This attitude is having a huge impact: on university campuses and in town halls, on radio and television, in theatres and art galleries.”

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