Do Australians extend the right of free speech only to those we agree with, saying things we approve of? In Truth is Trouble: The Strange Case of Israel Folau, or How Free Speech Became So Complicated, Malcolm Knox documents the curious case of how footballer Israel Folau became the centre of our free speech debate. Patrick Mullins’ The Trials of Portnoy: How Penguin Brought Down Australia’s Censorship System, recounts the pervasive literary censorship of our puritanical past, brought to an abrupt end with Portnoy’s Complaint and Penguin’s brave decision to publish and be damned. Malcolm and Patrick discuss our history of censorship and today’s fraught debate around bigotry and cancel culture.
Patrick Mullins is a Canberra-based writer and academic who has a PhD from the University of Canberra. Tiberius with a Telephone, his first book, won the 2020 NSW Premier’s Non-Fiction Award and the 2020 National Biography Award.