Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Can the world agree on free speech principles?

Prof. Timothy Garton Ash and his team at St Antony's College have just launched their fascinating new free speech project, FreeSpeechDebate:

Ten draft principles for global free speech are laid out, together with explanations and case studies – all for debate. Prominent figures from diverse cultures, faiths and political tendencies are interviewed and asked to comment, through video, audio and text. We have Indian novelist Arundhati Roy on the media and national security in India; Iranian cleric Mohsen Kadivar on Islam and the criminalisation of insults to religion; Chinese academic Yan Xuetong on universal values; former head of the Formula One association Max Mosley on privacy with more to come… The entire editorial content is carefully translated into 13 languages, covering more than 80% of the world's internet users, by native-speakers of those languages (mainly graduate students at Oxford University). Anyone can then contribute to the online discussion in these or any other widely used languages, and there is a facility to give a rough translation of every user-generated comment into most languages using machine translation.

I have greatly enjoyed being an adviser to the project. Here is the two-part interview I recently did with Prof. Ash:

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