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 Dickens, comedians, Libya and Frank Furedi 

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Tessa Mayes finds that liberated Tripoli is not nearly as scary as Western officials would have us believe.

Hero and zero

In his inaugural 'heroes and zeroes' column, Tim Black stands up for Charles Dickens and shoots down Steve Coogan.

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Press freedom

We will all be burnt by this implosion of the Sun

My first run-in with anti-Sun snobs came at the tender age of 11. As usual, before school, before breakfast even, I was despatched by my mother to the local cornershop to buy a copy of the only daily paper our household ever read (alongside the weekly Irish Post). Sadly for me, my snooty French teacher happened to be in the same shop at the same time, buying cigarettes probably, and when she caught glimpse of me standing there with the Sun under my arm she said with a very pronounced and elongated sense of alarm: ‘The Suuuun?’ It was the same tone of voice most people would use to say something like, ‘Herpes?’.

It caused a bit of a stir, since my mother subsequently phoned the French teacher to find out what exactly was wrong with reading the Sun, and also did she not think that hitting children with a leather strap was a worse pastime? (Ha! My French teacher was very fond of her leather strap.) Little did I know that a quarter of a century later, the sneer I encountered in that cornershop would become institutionalised, with everyone from judges to celebs to coppers now effectively saying ‘The Suuuun?’ and wondering out loud how they might go about damaging or even destroying this apparently foul and dangerous rag.

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