Author: Claire Fox

The Comment Awards Fiasco

The issue of press freedom has been making headlines in recent days—for all the wrong reasons. Murdered journalists are a visceral reminder of the risks that many around the world take to tell the truth. It is one of the reasons that whenever I am asked to judge media awards, I say yes. Over the years, I have judged the Foreign Press Association Awards, the Society of Editors’ National Press Awards and, most recently, Editorial Intelligence’s Comment Awards, now in its 10th year. I am happy to read dozens of articles, to spend time really thinking about who should be shortlisted, get the accolades and so on because it seems important to honor great journalism, to give credit to those scribblers who make a difference through their writing.  Mainstream media (MSM) and, indeed, many new media outlets are a crucial part of our public square. It is true that, in recent years, the much derided MSM regularly stands accused of self-congratulatory smugness. All the more reason to shake up any complacency by congratulating those whose …

Do Britain’s Muslims Have a Right Not to be Offended?

Religious freedom is one of the core principles of any modern liberal society. As a secularist, I defend the right of religious people to send their children to faith schools, have their children circumcised, or wear the burqa. This does not mean I approve of any of these practices; they should be permissible but not protected from criticism. We should be free to ridicule, lampoon, chastise, critique, etc. every aspect of religious belief that we tolerate. This is, more or less, what the U.K.’s former Conservative Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote in his now infamous newspaper column in the Telegraph last week. Yet all hell has broken loose. It was greeted by near-hysterical outrage and shrill denunciations of Johnson’s alleged dog whistle racism; reports of civil war in the Tory Party over the matter; the now ubiquitous demands for an apology for causing offence (or else), which was backed in this instance by the Prime Minister. Boris’s is now the subject of an internal Party inquiry. It’s worth untangling this sorry tale as a snap-shot …