2017 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize

Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World (Atlantic Books)

Timothy Garton Ash

Free Speech

Never in human history has there been such a chance for freedom of expression. If we have internet access, any one of us can publish almost anything we like and potentially reach an audience of millions. Never was there a time when the evils of unlimited speech flowed so easily across frontiers: violent intimidation, gross violations of privacy, tidal waves of abuse. A pastor burns a Koran in Florida and UN officials die in Afghanistan.

Drawing on a lifetime of writing about dictatorships and dissidents, political historian, author and commentator Timothy Garton Ash argues that in this connected world that he calls cosmopolis, the way to combine freedom and diversity is to have more, but also better, free speech. Across all cultural divides we must strive to agree on how we disagree. He draws on a 13-language global online project – freespeechdebate.com – conducted out of Oxford University and devoted to doing just that. The jury agreed that the prize should be given for both the publication and Professor Garton Ash’s online and interactive companion project. Together they constitute a robust, timely and engaged defence of free speech and global transcultural dialogue, even when and especially when societies clash and disagree.

Timothy Garton Ash is Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford. He has written ten books, is a columnist for The Guardian and a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.

Read this interview with Timothy Garton Ash from 2017.

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