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CMU Publisher to present free speech on free speech at the Edinburgh Fringe, inspired by the Blurred Lines debate

By | Published on Monday 3 August 2015

Chris Cooke's Free Speech

CMU Publisher and Business Editor Chris Cooke will this month debut a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe inspired by the ‘Blurred Lines’ debate he presented at The Great Escape in 2014.

Cooke says: “At TGE 2014 we had a strand looking at misogyny in pop music which climaxed with a debate on the topic ‘This House Believes UK Radio Should Have Banned Blurred Lines’. It was easy to find some great radio people to speak against the motion, and Sussex University Students’ Union, which had actually banned the infamous Robin Thicke hit, were up for doing the proposing. But it was really hard to find anyone from within the music or radio industry to second the motion. So, I decided to play Devil’s Advocate and do it myself. And in doing so I managed to convince myself that radio stations should have indeed banned ‘Blurred Lines'”.

He goes on: “Which is interesting because Edinburgh University was the first British educational institution to ban the controversial hit on campus, as critics responded to the song’s misogynistic lyrics. But here’s the thing. I know for certain that had that happened in the 1990s when I was DJing on the Edinburgh University radio station and helping publicise club nights in the union there, I would have definitely led the campaign against the ban. After all free speech is sacrosanct, censorship is never the solution, and America’s First Amendment is something to aspire to. So what’s changed in the last 20 years, me or the world?”

In the new one hour Fringe show – ‘Chris Cooke’s Free Speech’ – Cooke will explore where the right to free speech comes from in the UK and what the law actually says about freedom of expression, before discussing some of the recent controversies around free speech and finally explaining why he thinks British radio should have indeed banned ‘Blurred Lines’ because of its lyrical content and the message it spread.

The show appears in the spoken word programme at the Edinburgh Fringe, and will be performed from 14-16 Aug at Space Triplex, and again on 21 and 22 Aug at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall. Entry is free and tickets can be reserved online at

Cooke is performing at the Fringe for the first time, having covered the world’s biggest cultural festival for two decades via CMU’s sister magazine ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, which is back up and running once again ahead of the start of this year’s Edinburgh Festival later this week. Check out all the coverage at or tune in to the TW Podcast, also hosted by Cooke, at