Jacob Mchangama and Coleman Hughes discuss his brilliant new book: Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media. They talk about the Danish cartoon controversy and Charlie Hebdo. They also discuss the so-called “Milton’s curse”; which is the habit of hypocritically defending free speech for some, but not for others. Coleman thinks this point is relevant to some of the bans that we’ve been seeing on Russian state news. They talk about the notion of power relations and its relationship to free speech, the relationship between censorship and human nature, the importance of having a culture of free speech in addition to having laws that nominally protect it. They also talk about the origins of what Jacob calls “egalitarian free speech” in ancient Athens, the First Amendment and its evolving interpretation over time, and the alleged exceptions to protected speech such as hate speech or shouting fire in a crowded theatre.

They go on to discuss whether censorship actually works, big tech companies and their role in censoring speech, similarities between the rise of the printing press and the rise of the Internet, cancel culture, the threat to free speech posed by China and the CCP, and much more.

Coleman Hughes called this one of his favorite conversations of the year.