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Free speech isn’t under threat. It just suits bigots and boors to suggest so

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You can’t say anything these days. Free speech is a thing of the past. Young people today can’t cope with reality and if you try to tell them about it you’ll get arrested. You may think we live in a free society, but if you cross the PC brigade, they’ll haul you in for questioning and then they’ll disappear you.

This sort of argument is everywhere. It often seems like the first line of defence when a notable figure has overstepped the mark. And just this month the academic Jordan Peterson launched a website, Thinkspot, to protect users from all the “censorship” that is around right now.

The argument that you can’t say anything was given a boost when, in 2015, the Atlantic magazine published The Coddling of the American Mind, an article by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff suggesting that young people, particularly students, were attempting to shut down discussions about topics they disagreed with. Universities, they argued, were sacrificing knowledge on the altar of hurt student feelings.

Then, the explosion. Thousands of articles were written defending free speech against the undergraduates, along with a slew of books – from Mike Hume’s Trigger Warning to Claire Fox’s I Find That Offensive! to Haidt’s 2018 book borrowing the title of the original Atlantic article. There has been the phenomenon of Jordan Peterson, who says the unsayable but is still somehow a bestselling author. (Almost every piece on spiked-online.com has an argument defending free speech.)

In 2017, the UK government got involved, suggesting........

© The Guardian