I don't agree with Geert Wilders critique of Islam. It's emotive and unbalanced and paints a picture of the religion that is unrecognisable to most of its followers.
However objectionable and unhelpful I might find his view and his film, I have to say that I was shocked by Chris Huhne's support of the Government's decision to refuse him entry to the UK last week.
My innermost instincts are to protect freedom of speech. When I first came across Labour's No Platform policy in the 1980s, it made me feel queasy. On the face of it it sounds fair enough not to give voice to views which are just so objectionable that they could incite violence against a particular group of people. The trouble with this is that somebody then has to decide what is objectionable. And if you're not careful, what you are allowed to say could become narrower and narrower. The other point is that you have to allow those views to be articulated in order to argue against them. Otherwise they go underground and their proponents have to operate behind front organisations......
I am just listening to the BBC's The Big Questions where people are basically justifying the use of torture as part of a debate. I really don't like that point of view but I don't think they should have been stopped from saying it.
We have legislation against hate crimes in this country, and I think it's right and proper that we should. Nobody should have to face violence or persecution because of their religion, sexuality, race, age or any other aspect of who they are.
I think religions, governments and philosophies are fair game when it comes to criticism. I do not see why I should be silenced from criticising the homophobia of many organised religions, nor the abuses of human rights which are carried out in the name of religion or dogma across the globe, nor the principles on which these religions or dogma are based.
If we take the Government's logic on the Wilders case to its natural conclusion, would Italy be right to prevent me from going there because of what I've said about the Pope's homophobic pronouncements?