23 May 2015

These are grim days for liberalism.

In much of our world religious zealots seek to enchain believer and nonbeliever alike, to smash the creations of the past, and to kill fellow believers and murder dissenters. In Bangladesh recently Muslim extremists have brutally killed on the street several atheist writers and bloggers.

In Britain we are largely protected from the violence that seeks to silence by an alert intelligence service.

Alas, increasingly on our university campuses there are peaceful calls for an end to both the free exchange of ideas and the exploration of challenging thoughts, what universities are for. There are peaceful attempts, some successful, to silence the debating of ideas which might discomfort some students.

A few of the people who spoke out against the Charlie Hebdo murders actually said, I’m appalled but…and with that but in effect, I think, blamed the cartoonists.

Today into this illiberal gloom Ireland dances.

The people of Ireland have voted in favour of same-sex marriage. Over recent years Ireland has abandoned the grip of reaction and legalised homosexuality, divorce, and contraception, all outlawed by the Catholic church.

In Britain the Tory Libdem government made same sex marriage legal, a remarkably civilised and brave move by David Cameron.

Today love has won, equality has won. Liberalism and civilisation have won.

Ireland referendum result: Yes to same-sex marriage 1 201 607 votes (62.1 percent of the votes), No 734 300 votes (37.9 percent of the votes)

Bangladesh murders: 2013 Rajib Haider murdered, February 2015 Avijit Roy hacked to death in Dhaka, April 2015 Washiqur Rahman hacked to death, May 2015 Ananta Bijoy Das murdered on the way to work

2013 Raif Badawi, free speech blogger, jailed in Saudi Arabia,later flogged