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Short radio interview: Why freedom of speech is vitally important

My freedom to speak underlies every other freedom that I have. It is the bedrock of a free society. The only limits should be the risk of demonstrable harm to other people, such as with incitement to murder. Hurting their feelings does not count.


Radio broadcast 4 April 2017. Posted 6 July 2017.

Voice of Islam Radio is a relatively new digital radio station with its roots in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

They recently asked me to participate in their Drive Time programme on the subject of freedom of speech. You can hear the recorded programme below.


They emailed me some questions which are reproduced below verbatim. I was then interviewed and recorded, and was the first outside speaker on their programme.

  1. Please tell us why you have joined the 'Defend free speech campaign'? [I am listed on the Campaign's home page as one of their supporters.]
  2. Should there be some limits on what we are free to say?
  3. Should people be free to incite violence and hatred?
  4. When do you think free speech becomes from constructive to destructive?
  5. When do you have to be careful on what to say? Is it ok to hurt other people's feelings?


The full Drive Time programme can be listened to below. It is 1 hour 46 minutes long, but only the first 50 minutes are devoted to freedom of speech. The rest cover a different topic, forgiveness.

My own interview starts at 04:44 and ends at 10:25. As I am the first person interviewed, I recommend listening from the beginning of the recording at 0:00. You may also wish to listen to the other interviews after mine.

In my opinion, the interviewers struggled to understand the distinction between:

During the interview, I was crystal clear about people's freedom to insult any religious belief. I set out my views on blasphemy several years ago in the piece "Blasphemy should never be a crime."


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