Although there has been a lot written about how counter-terrorism laws impact on human rights and civil liberties, most of this work has focussed on the most obvious or egregious kinds of human rights abrogation, such as extended detention, torture, and extraordinary rendition. Far less has been written about the complex ways in which Western governments have placed new and far-reaching limitations on freedom of speech in this context since 9/11.
This book compares three liberal democracies - the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, in particular showing the commonalities and similarities in what has occurred in each country, and the changes in the appropriate parameters of freedom of speech in the counter-terrorism context since 9/11, achieved both in policy change and the justification for that change. In all three countries much speech has been criminalized in ways that were considered anachronistic, or inappropriate, in
comparable policy areas prior to 9/11. This is particularly interesting because other works have suggested that the United States' unique protection of freedom of speech in the First Amendment has prevented speech being limited in that country in ways that have been pursued in others. This book shows
that this kind of argument misses the detail of the policy change that has occurred, and privileges a textual reading over a more comprehensive policy-based understanding of the changes that have occurred.
The author argues that we are now living a new-normal for freedom of speech, within which restrictions on speech that once would have been considered aberrant, overreaching, and impermissible are now considered ordinary, necessary, and justified as long as they occur in the counter-terrorism context. This change is persistent, and it has far reaching implications for the future of this foundational freedom.
Katharine Gelber is Professor of Politics and Public Policy at the University of Queensland. Her expertise is in freedom of speech and speech regulation. In 2014, she was awarded, with Luke McNamara, the Mayer journal article prize by the Australian Political Studies Association for the best article in the Australian Journal of Political Science, an article on the Australian hate speech case known as the 'Bolt case'. In 2011 she published Speech Matters: How to Get Free Speech Right (University of Queensland Press) which was a finalist in the Australian Human Rights Awards 2011 (Literature Non-Fiction category). In 2011 she was awarded the PEN Keneally award for contributions to freedom of expression. She has recently published articles in journals including Law and Society Review, Political Studies, Contemporary Political Theory, Melbourne University Law Review, Review of International Studies, and the Australian Journal of Human Rights.