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Live On Stage
Wednesday October 9 2024, 7pm BST

THINK AGAIN: Is Free Speech Under Threat?

Politics &

Is free speech under threat? Many liberals believe that in recent years we have seen an erosion of the right to air unpopular opinions without the risk of being cancelled. We are in an ever-intensifying shutting down of conversation, they maintain, with constituencies on both the left and the right demanding that opinions they don’t like be declared out of bounds, socially, morally or legally. Today this dangerous trend is escalating with the help of populism and social media. We must reverse course now if we want to protect our most precious freedoms. 

But some argue otherwise: that the so-called free speech crisis is completely a fiction. What we’re really seeing is a rebalance of power in elite institutions where privileged groups are being held to account for their words by others who have been historically excluded and marginalised. This is nothing more than the righting of wrongs, this side of the argument maintains. Besides, the very notion of freedom of speech is flawed – because the powerful have always enjoyed those freedoms more than the powerless, and so equating so-called cancel culture and no-platforming with state censorship is to fundamentally misunderstand (or wilfully misconstrue) what the concept of free speech was originally designed to protect.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? Join us on October 9 for the launch of the first instalment of Intelligence Squared’s new book series THINK AGAIN, published in partnership with The Bodley Head. Our authors – CEO of PEN America Suzanne Nossel and historian Charlotte Lydia Riley – will be debating the state of free speech today live on stage.

Hear the arguments and have your say on one of the most contested issues of our time, live at Conway Hall.

And please order a copy of the first ever Intelligence Squared book!

Is Free Speech Under Threat?
by Charlotte Lydia Riley & Suzanne Nossel & Intelligence Squared

Event Name

THINK AGAIN: Is Free Speech Under Threat?

  • Suzanne Nossel

    CEO of PEN America

  • Charlotte Lydia Riley

    Historian and writer

  • Conway Hall
  • 25 Red Lion Square
  • London
  • WC1R 4RL
  • Wednesday 9 October 2024
  • 7pm to 8:30pm BST



Suzanne Nossel

CEO of PEN America

CEO of PEN America, the leading human rights and free expression organisation, and a key voice on free expression issues in the United States and globally. During the first term of the Obama administration, Nossel served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organisations, where she led U.S. engagement in the United Nations on human rights and humanitarian issues. She is the author of Dare To Speak: Defending Free Speech For All and has been widely published in mainstream publications including the LA Times, Foreign Affairs, Guardian, Wall Street Journal, TIME, Washington Post, Slate and more.

Charlotte Lydia Riley

Historian and writer

Historian of twentieth-century Britain at the University of Southampton, specialising in questions about empire, politics, culture and identity. She is editor of The Free Speech Wars and author of Imperial Island: A History of Empire in Modern Britain. Her writing has appeared in a wide range of publications including the Guardian, New Statesman, Prospect and History Today. She also co-hosts the podcast Tomorrow Never Knows in which she and Emma Lundin discuss feminism, pop culture, politics and history.