Persona Non Grata: The Death of Free Speech in the Internet Age

Required reading for journalists and bloggers, as it shows the peril of rushing to judgement in the era of clickbait.

Tom Flanagan was one of Canada's leading political scientists, until one statement in an academic discussion was taking out of context and spread across the Internet.

In response to a question at the University of Lethbridge the night prior, Flanagan stated: "I certainly have no sympathy for child molesters, but I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures. I don't look at these pictures."

A short video was posted to YouTube, and within hours, Flanagan was a pariah - condemned as supporting child pornography.

The Premier of Alberta, the Prime Minister of Canada, CBC, his own university The University of Calgary, and more condemned all.

Once fuller context was available, it became clear that he was not desiring of the condemnation. Nonetheless, the damage was done.

Flanagan's book looks at his experience, and the questions it raises about responsible journalism and academic freedom in the 140 character era.

Persona Non Grata: The Death of Free Speech in the Internet Age, written by Tom Flanagan, 2014 McClelland & Stewart.

Available from the Hamilton Public Library.

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