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.

Bruce Gardner

An excellent, unusual, informative (i.e. not just opinion) article from Karin Kneissl on the Middle East's angry young men (9 March).

Ian Mitchell

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DOROTHY'S SCOTTISH JOURNEY
'Scotland is the country above all others that I have seen in which a man of imagination may carve out his own pleasures'

In episode 2 of Dorothy Wordsworth's tour of Scotland, the party moves on to Thornhill, Wanlockhead and Leadhills, where Dorothy is astonished to find a library containing a book which cost £30 – the average annual wage of a local miner. Click here for Dorothy's Scottish journey

It's easier than ever to access talkScot, SR's quality radio. You can find all our podcasts on the SR site simply by clicking here. Why not have a browse?

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RIDDLE OF THE CLUTHA
Kenneth Roy

FOCUS: A new theory which could explain the baffling silence from the crew before their helicopter plunged into a crowded bar

THE SECRET MILLIONAIRE
Walter Humes

DIARY:
The mysterious Scottish sponsor of the new scheme to bankroll independent candidates

SILENCE OF THE SHEEP
Jean Barr

EDUCATION: Why has civic Scotland nothing to say about educational disadvantage and so much else?

NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING
Alan McIntyre

THE TRUMP PHENOMENON 1: How has the party of Lincoln become the party of Trump?

A WORLD GONE WRONG
Gerry Hassan

THE TRUMP PHENOMENON 2: His popularity is a portent of much worse to come

FINDING HIS VOICE
Tom Morton

RADIO: Nick Robinson now sounds like a man who can speak his mind without fear or uncertainty

FAMILY TIES
Craig Brown

SPORT: The death of Walter McGowan was a poignant reminder of parental inspiration in Scottish sport

Also in this edition

THE MIDGIE

and Bob Smith

THE CAFE
The end of debate?

LAW
Jonathan Brown


EUROPE
Alasdair McKillop

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Mother's Days
Click here for Gerard Rochford's March poem

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