I write to support Alasdair Gordon's 2 March defence of Gerry Hassan's article on freedom of debate (24 February). We are in danger of a new dark age of self-righteous, bullying stupidity, in churches, in universities and in public debating forums.
Recently, a cleverly-propagandist parallelism between apartheid South Africa with the democratic state of Israel has introduced a partiality that is held to excuse terrorism and has influenced BBC reporting to a disturbing degree. Part of this is the populism of today's popularity-seeking media. Any cause celebre ensuring sales and viewing figures will win.
This is not to say that Israel or any other state or body should be free from criticism, but when speakers suffer from no-platforming, civilised, informed debate is forestalled. It is simply not acceptable for lazy journalism and political chicanery to exploit mere ignorance.
In the late 60s, when things were hotting up between the Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland, many students of the left were instinctively drawn to the Catholic side. However, I witnessed a civilised, if robust, debate between the Reverend Ian Paisley and Bernadette Devlin, later McAliskey. Within a short time, the troubles began in the province, but in Aberdeen University, despite the tensions, we gave issues an airing.
As a democrat, I object to the politics of the streets dominating debate with bullying and self-righteous special pleading. We fought two world wars to be able to make up our minds without gauleiters and patronising bureaucrats stifling debate. To fail now would disgrace not only us but millions of dead who believed as they fought that they fought for freedom.
An excellent, unusual, informative (i.e. not just opinion) article from Karin Kneissl on the Middle East's angry young men (9 March).
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