Bob Geldof was fourteen at the time of the fiftieth anniversary commemoration of the Easter Rising. It revolted him. And I think, how wonderful at that age to see through the militarism and the infantilism of Irish Catholicism- Oh, Father! Yes, Father!
I wish I could say to you that in middle age I have my own opinions, because of my own experiences, but that is not the case; I am far more tolerant of the TERFs because of that peculiar relationship; we pick up our opinions, mostly, from those around us, which is a way of building community and bonding. You are more forgiving and tolerant of those close to you.
Rebellion can be as constricting as conformity, but I hope Sir Bob transcended that.
And it is because of my own experiences: hated and despised, at times, I am conscious of other hated groups. And I want to think the best of people, because I need hope.
In 1966, there were people alive who had fought in the war of independence and the civil war.
I started on this thinking of the question, why make holocaust denial illegal, but not insulting the Prophet Mohammed? I would say, because holocaust denial is linked to holocaust apologia. Because it is false. Lies have to be tolerated in free speech- who would get to say what are the lies?- but not this one.
As for Mohammed-
The tension, for me, is around the harm Islam does, and the way to mitigate that harm. Around the world, a large minority of Muslims believe that human beings have always existed in our present form since the beginning of time, rather than evolved. That is, they have defective means of assessing fact. Though for ordinary living it hardly matters that there are 1011 galaxies and the Earth is four billion years old. More serious is the moral belief. Overwhelming majorities believe homosexuality is wrong, and far too many believe “honour killings” may be justified.
Nothing is sacred, in liberal democracy, above human flourishing. We decide for ourselves what will fulfil us, and pursue it as best we may. Those who have found good ways, flourish, and others follow them. So society progresses.
And to this minority, Mohammed is the foundation and symbol of their way of life. Attack him, and you attack them. It may make them distrust Liberal Democracy more and drive them into greater extremism. This treats them as less than others? No, it treats them as having different and perhaps greater problems than the rest of us. Everyone needs looked after.
I disapprove of images of the Prophet. I am not Charlie. I would not make them illegal. I may change my mind on either of these things.