In other words, real freedom of speech, the kind that is morally important and politically essential, involves two things ”“ freedom to stand back from any particular loyalty in the name of loyalty to the truth, and freedom to speak truths that the powerful want hidden or ignored. It is not simply a matter of the liberty to spread random or trivial information, certainly not the liberty of expressing abusive or demeaning opinions. And no-one can be complacent about the levels of hurt and distress experienced by those who have been at the receiving end of intrusive and insensitive investigation in the name of this debased version of liberty. It is about sharing the reality of painful and difficult human experience so that others may know it for what it is and so that they may have no excuse for ignoring it. This kind of truthtelling is always radical because it demands that we identify with the situations of those very unlike us and recognise that they share the same world and the same human challenges. Truth is not likely to be found where people are told never to ask questions or where those who are backed by force have the right to dictate what counts as news, so that the human reality and human cost of injustice or disaster can be swept out of sight and mind.
Our readings today reinforce this strongly. St Paul’s words in his letter to the Philippians take it for granted that what is true is bound up with justice and honour among human beings: to think about what is true is to be committed to pursuing justice and honour, trust, fairness, all that is positive and in tune with people’s deepest longings and feelings.