Timothy Garton Ash is Professor of European Studies and Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford. He leads the Free Speech Debate project at Oxford (freespeechdebate.com) and is writing a book about free speech.


Defying the Assassin’s Veto

Jean Cabut, known by the pen name Cabu, one of the cartoonists killed in the attack on Charlie Hebdo
Working out how to defeat the assassin’s veto is one of the great challenges of our time. Among the many questions that arise is whether or not to republish images at which fanatics have chosen to take such violent offense that they murder those who made them.


A Stasi official observing the interrogation of the lover of an East German playwright whose loyalty to the state is questioned, in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s film The Lives of Others, 2006

Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature

by Robert Darnton
I have only once met a censor on active duty. In the spring of 1989, my friends at the newly founded Polish opposition newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza let me take a cartoon up to the in-house censor at the printing house of the main Communist Party daily, on whose weary old …

The New German Question

There is a new German question. It is this: Can Europe’s most powerful country lead the way in building both a sustainable, internationally competitive eurozone and a strong, internationally credible European Union? Germany’s difficulties in responding convincingly to this challenge are partly the result of earlier German questions and the solutions found to them. Yesterday’s answers have sown the seeds of today’s question.

‘Choices for an Uncrowned Queen’

Aung San Suu Kyi standing in front of a painting of her father, General Aung San, Rangoon, October 2011

The Roadmap

by Suragamika

Bones Will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets

edited and translated from the Burmese by Ko Ko Thett and James Byrne
Rangoon It’s good to be back. I was last here thirteen years ago, at the turn of the century. I spoke about transitions to democracy at the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD), with Aung San Suu Kyi in the chair. I wrote about the trip for The …

Insult the King and… Go Directly to Jail

Thai royal nurses holding candles at a celebration of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s eighty-fifth birthday, Bangkok, December 2012

Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason, and Lèse-Majesté

by David Streckfuss
Bangkok She sits calmly smiling at me across the lunch table: quiet, matter-of-fact, professional. Yet just a week ago, Joop’s husband, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, was condemned to ten years in prison for lèse-majesté—plus a further year on a related defamation charge. What was Somyot’s mortal insult to Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, …

India: Watch What You Say

Bal Thackeray, founder of the Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena, Mumbai, 2010
Everyone knows the ongoing case of Free Speech vs. the Communist Party of China. We pay too little attention, by contrast, to the struggle for freedom of expression in the free or partly free countries of South and Southeast Asia. Their controversies may be more fragmented and incremental than the …


Tony Judt (1948–2010)

Tony Judt in his office at NYU, New York City, June 2006

The poet Paul Celan said of his native Czernowitz that it was a place where people and books used to live. Tony Judt was a man for whom books lived, as well as people. His mind, like his apartment on Washington Square, was full of books—and they walked with him, arguing, to the very end. Critical though he was of French intellectuals, he shared with them a conviction that ideas matter. Being English, he thought facts matter too. As a historian, one of his most distinctive achievements was to integrate the intellectual and political history of twentieth-century Europe—revealing the multiple, sometimes unintended interactions over time of ideas and realities, thoughts and deeds, books and people.