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Jeremy Goldstein & Jodie Ginsberg: Art, Truth and Politics

The Crowning of Reece Lyons from Jeremy Goldstein for LAP on Vimeo.

Jeremy Goldstein is an award-winning theatre maker and founder and host of ‘Truth to Power Café’.  Jodie Ginsberg is CEO of Index on Censorship who campaigns for and defends free expression worldwide. Both are founded on the principle that everyone should be free to express themselves without fear or harm of persecution. 

Image credit: Jeremy Goldstein, photographed by Kate Holmes.

Jeremy Goldstein: This year in ‘Truth to Power Café’, we’ve heard from over one hundred participants in four countries, all rising up in the name of free speech and political activism.  As a champion of freedom of speech, where do you draw the line on ‘acceptable speech’?

Jodie Ginsberg: I believe all speech is acceptable provided that it does not deliberately incite violence. This means that for me 'acceptable' includes speech that some people might find offensive, vile or even hateful. I am a free speech advocate because I believe open dialogue promotes a more tolerant society. So, while I think everyone has a right to say what they want, that doesn't always mean that I think what they say is right.

Jeremy: These days many politically inconvenient ideas are silenced and we switch off from people whose opinions we don’t agree with. Friend or unfriend?

Jodie: Friend. We can't possibly understand one another unless we communicate - and that means both having the ability to speak and the willingness to listen. Bigoted views are not overcome simply by censoring them: people don't stop thinking things just because you tell them they can't say them. It's often hard to start those conversations though because people start from entrenched and apparently deeply opposing viewpoints and because it's difficult to separate emotions from an argument.

Jeremy: You’ve worked in media for many years and are a former London Bureau Chief for Reuters - what advice would you give to aspiring journalists?


Image credit: Photo of Jodie Ginsberg.

Jodie: The best journalists I have worked with have an insatiable curiosity about the world, are deeply passionate about truth-telling and are willing to work extremely hard to tell stories the public need to know. Grab as much experience as you can, whether it be working on your school paper or trying to get work experience on your local paper or broadcaster. New journalists need to be willing to do the boring jobs as well as covering juicier stories. I think it's really important for anyone looking to break into the profession to be willing to work hard as well as offer their own ideas - and to show that you're interested in people. It's easy these days to do everything by email. But you usually get the best stories by leaving your desk - at the very least picking up the phone.

Jeremy: Is there a time in your life when telling the truth, or standing up for yourself had a memorable impact on you?

Jodie: I've always been pretty good at standing up for myself but I was surprised a few years ago when among a group of people, I considered peers and friends I criticised the way the group was structured - especially the fact that I felt women had been cast mainly in facilitator roles rather than as experts - and got pretty vitriolic and public pushback. It's the first time I think I have ever cried in public. It made me angry, but it also made me realise that the toughest changes to effect are the ones close to home.

Jeremy: Who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?

Jodie: My parents have quite a lot of power over me still because - despite being over 40 - their good opinion of me matters and I want to please them. What I want to say to them is 'You don't always have to try to fix everything - let's just hang out and smell the roses!'

Index on Censorship Magazine autumn issue: The Age of Unreason is out now.

‘Truth to Power Café’ autumn dates:

15 October - The Arts Centre Ormskirk
30 -31 October - Roundhouse London

Wednesday 31 October - Art, Truth and Politics
Roundhouse London
Post-show discussion and audience Q&A with Jeremy Goldstein and Jodie Ginsberg CEO, Index on Censorship - the voice of free expression. 


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