Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall.
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From the High Middle Ages, Europe developed into a “persecuting society,” obsessed with stamping out the “cancer” of heresy. But questions about how this was accomplished — and the consequences of these developments — abound: Why did popes and secular rulers shift from persuasion to persecution of heretics? Why was human choice in matters of religious belief considered a mortal threat to Christendom itself? Why did bookish inquisitors armed with legal procedure, interrogation manuals, data and archives succeed where bloody crusades and mass slaughter failed? How did the “machinery of persecution” developed in the Late Middle Ages affect other minority groups such as Jews? Are inquisitions a thing of a past and dark hyper-religious age, or a timeless instrument with appeal to the “righteous mind” whether secular or religious? What are the similarities between medieval laws against heresy and modern laws against hate speech? We try to answer these questions — and more — in the latest episode of our Clear and Present Danger podcast. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.. . .
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