Right to Offend

Click on the link below to listen to young people debating the ideal of freedom of speech.

'...there's always a consequence to what you say...'

A transcript of this extract is also available as a pdf. This requires Adobe Acrobat Reader which can be downloaded for free from the Adobe website.

Classroom Activity

Before the class, each student should be given one of the following topics to research:

  • Behzti
  • Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons
  • Monty Python's The Life of Brian

At the start of the class, students should then be able to explain what each is and why it caused such controversy. Start a class discussion: was it right or wrong for the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, to publish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad? Where should we draw the line between the right to freedom of speech and the possibility of causing others offence?

The Emergency Meeting

It is December 20th 2004, the morning after the opening night of the play Behzti. An emergency meeting has been called by the theatre's management who have invited some representatives of the local Sikh community, the West Midlands Police and the Commission for Racial Equality to attend. Divide the class into four groups, each one representing those invited to the meeting. They have fifteen minutes to discuss their perspective on the play before coming together for the emergency meeting. The group then has half and hour to come to a final decision. Will your class decide to ban the play?