Free speech and its limits are well trodden topics, but in the current climate this is just part of a bigger issue: the predominance of contempt in our politics. Contempt, like anger, has been given a kind of moral weight, so that it can feel right to be contemptuous, or that we have an obligation to be angry. If public conversation is infected by these bitter ingredients, we need to ask whether democratic politics can survive our culture of contempt?
Waleed Aly is a broadcaster, author, academic and musician. He is a lecturer in politics at Monash University and was awarded his PhD in 2018 on global terrorism (and is a Patron of the Street Library). Waleed is co-host of Network TEN’s The Project and co-presents The Minefield on Radio National with ethicist Scott Stephens every week. In 2014 Waleed was awarded the prestigious Walkley Award for Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique. Within his first year as a full-time presenter on The Project, Waleed took home the 2016 Gold Logie Award for Most Popular Australian TV Personality, Silver Logie Award for Best Presenter and delivered the 2016 Andrew Olle Media Lecture. Waleed won the Silver Logie Award for Best Presenter again in 2017, received another nomination for the Silver Logie in 2019, and was nominated again for the Gold Logie in 2017 and 2019.
Karen Jones is Associate Professor in philosophy at the University of Melbourne. She has written extensively on trust, what it is, and when it is justified. She also writes on emotions and rationality, as well as on feminist philosophy and critical race theory.
Scott Stephens is the ABC’s Religion and Ethics Editor, and the co-host (with Waleed Aly) of The Minefield on ABC Radio National. He has published widely on philosophy, ethics, and democratic theory. In 2022, he will be presenting the twentieth annual Simone Weil Lecture on Human Value at Australian Catholic University.