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Over the last weekend I thought I would give up writing this blog. It has been an interesting couple of years. Some 1200 posts, half a million words.

This Winter has been difficult. Constant personal issues involving health and family for the last five years have begun to drain my emotional energy – and it does take emotional energy to force yourself to sit down and think, I mean really think, and then write, about the issues of the day. 

The real problem has been time. There are fewer tourists, and local people have less money to spend. This has meant working longer hours to try to cover the costs of staying in business. And I do need some time just to switch off and relax, and some time for family and friends.

Maintaining Qohel was beginning to look like a very low priority.

But after yesterday’s Federal Court decision, it is increasingly important to persist, and to insist on the importance of free speech.

I find many of Tim Lambert’s blog posts offensive, both because of his personal attacks on people he disagrees with and because of his determined resistence to facts. But I still link to him, and would be very disturbed if it was seriously suggested bloggers who hold his views or write in the way he does should be forced to modify their thinking.

Democracies work because people are informed. They come to be informed through considering a variety of viewpoints and theories. Free speech is essential to effective democracy. The fewer restrictions on free speech, the better a democracy will work.

Even David Irving and Mahmoud Imanutjob have the right to speak. They cannot insist on any right to force us to listen. But forcing people to hear particular views and only those views is only a short step behind the silencing of others.

Democracy and freedom of speech are incompatible with an imagined right not to be offended. Attempts to establish such a right, and especially to give that right to particular groups, will create, and always has created, obstacles to the exchange of facts and ideas, and just as importantly, will create divisions and resentments which undermine respect and trust.

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