chapter  16
10 Pages

Taking Offence: Free Speech, Blasphemy and the Media

ByJonathan Heawood

In this chapter Heawood considers the conflict between freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Citing the protests against the play Behzti, Heawood makes the case for considering this to be a pivotal moment in the redefining of the relationship between freedoms of religion and of expression. It was followed by the media storms surrounding Jerry Springer, The Opera, a production of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, and Monica Ali’s novel, Brick Lane. Media coverage of these, and other controversies involving the right to free expression, encouraged the perception that ‘religion and free speech had become implacably opposed’. Heawood examines this media polarisation in the context of repeated criticisms of newspapers and broadcasters that, due to economic pressures, complex news stories are simplified and under-researched.