The problem is that for Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s bravery to be effective depends on the tour promoters’ bravery. And the tour promoters’ bravery depends on whichever hotel group she’s booked with to be brave. And the hotel group’s bravery depends on whichever corporate entity owns the event venues to be brave. And the corporate entity’s bravery depends on the insurers’ bravery. And the insurers’ bravery depends on someone ponying up an extra gazillion dollars for security costs. And suddenly for the cost of a bare-bones speech by one brave woman you could mount The Phantom Of The Opera meets Avatar on ice and still come out ahead. (…)
And in another ten years? Douglas, Ayaan and I will still enjoy theoretical freedom of speech but, to exercise it, we’ll have to meet in an abandoned mine-shaft an hour south of Cloncurry, speaking to seven personally invited guests driven there blindfolded. The marketplace of ideas, from Canberra to Copenhagen, is shrinking fast. To quote Laura Rosen Cohen yet again: “Security” is the new “shut up”.