Freedom of expression is a dangerous licence when severed from any commitment to truth, as cyber-thugs reveal daily
It’s been an eventful week for what we used to call truth. The Saudi government has finally admitted that Jamal Khashoggi has been killed, although its account of how this happened is as implausible as the various denials it supplants. That we rely on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the world’s most enthusiastic jailer of journalists, to help establish the facts is one of the ironies of a post-truth world.
Talk about the demise of truth is always liable to sound histrionic and naive. After all, we have long been told that the prince must be “a great feigner and dissembler” (this is Machiavelli, not the House of Saud), and “realists” ever since have stressed the usefulness of illusions and the necessity of lies. Indeed, recent research by Ezra Zuckerman Sivan indicates that a large constituency of voters expect their political heroes to lie on their behalf.