Janet Albrechsten’s review of the threats to free speech that occurred in 2008 (primarily triggered pre-emptively by fears of fundamentalist Muslim violence directed at authors and publishers) is sobering reading.
If large sections of the media – normally devotees of free speech – cave into what the BBC’s Thompson called the “growing nervousness about discussion about Islam”, that self-censorship ripples out to all corners of society.
After the Danish cartoons fiasco [in 2006], the onus was on the West to show its spine, to reassert its faith in freedom of expression. So far it has failed on that score. Let’s hope 2009 is a better year for free speech and the West’s confidence in itself.