‘Our liberal media is less keen on a free press than the Puritans were’
Mick Hume, author of new book There Is No Such Thing As a Free Press, answers your questions.
To what extent does the right to print a story imply that it is right to do so?
This is an important distinction. Supporting a free press does not mean endorsing all – or anything – that the press does with its freedom. And supporting the right to publish does not necessarily mean endorsing the exercise of that right in any particular context, whether it be the Danish papers’ infamous and infantile Mohammed cartons or the hypothetical prospect of a UK paper splashing pictures of royal breasts. In my new book There is No Such Thing as a Free Press… And We Need One More Than Ever, I suggest that we need to strive for a dual attitude, of true tolerance – where everybody is free to say and publish what they see fit – and of genuine judgementalism – where nobody is allowed to get away with saying or publishing anything without being challenged and criticised. Or to use my favourite Dr Johnson quote, ‘Every man has the right to utter what he thinks truth – and every other man has the right to knock him down for it’. Figuratively speaking, at the very least…
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