Oxford £7.99 (115pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 0870 079 8897
Free Speech, By Nigel Warburton
Friday 13 March 2009
Expert, concise but far from bland, Oxford's "Very Short Introductions" series must rank by now as a thinking reader's Wikipedia. For its 200th title, philosopher Nigel Warburton spans two millennia and more of knotty quarrels over freedom of expression and its moral or legal limits – from Socrates' death by hemlock to Salman Rushdie, David Irving and Aayan Hirsi Ali. As he writes, "almost every defender of free speech wishes to draw the line somewhere".
With admirable clarity, this VSI shows us how wobbly, hazy – but unavoidable – that line turns out to be. Warburton notes how internet rage and hate has written another chapter in this always-evolving story. If the art-and-porn section drags him into a quagmire (as it always does), he spares some good thoughts for the copyright wars that, in a digital age, can mean that the consumer's liberty entails the creator's penury.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West