From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the advent of the Web, everywhere you turn you are told that we live in an age of unparalleled freedom. This is dangerously naïve. From the revolution in Iran that wasn't to the imposition of super-injunctions from the filthy rich, we still live in a world where you can write a book and end up dead.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of Communism and the advent of the Internet, it has become the conventional wisdom that we are living in an age of unprecedented freedom.
But, as Nick Cohen argues, this view is in fact dangerously naïve. From the Great Firewall of China to super-injunctions that shield the misdeeds of the filthy rich from public scrutiny, the traditional opponents of freedom of speech are thriving, and in many respects finding the world a more comfortable place than ever before. In Britain, they are shamefully abetted by libel laws that have made the country an international byword for the judicial suppression of inconvenient truths.
In You Can't Read This Book, one of the wittiest and most excoriating journalists at work today passionately and persuasively describes how we in the liberated West find ourselves in a situation in which you can write a novel, criticise an alternative therapy or ‘offend' a religion by drawing a cartoon, and risk ending up financially ruined, or even dead.