"'All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don't respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don't respect the idea that we should follow a 'Prophet' who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him. I don't respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don't respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. When you demand 'respect', you are demanding we lie to you. I have too much real respect for you as a human being to engage in that charade.'"It is a tragedy that the editor and the publisher were arrested. Were the fanatic goons arrested? When will mobs stop ruling opinion? To all the goons, stop getting offended! If you have such great conviction in your beliefs try to engage in a to and fro of opinions.
The protestors said I deliberately set out to "offend" them, and I am supposed to say that, no, no offence was intended. But the honest truth is more complicated. Offending fundamentalists isn't my goal – but if it is an inevitable side-effect of defending human rights, so be it. If fanatics who believe Muslim women should be imprisoned in their homes and gay people should be killed are insulted by my arguments, I don't resile from it. Nothing worth saying is inoffensive to everyone.
The solution to the problems of free speech – that sometimes people will say terrible things – is always and irreducibly more free speech.Can't agree more!