I've always wanted to write about football. Up until now I've refrained from doing so on the grounds that I know absolutely nothing about it. I know that there are two teams who wear different colours, and that they have to get the ball into a big net, and that sometimes the TV coverage includes erotic slow-motion replays. But that's about the limit of my understanding.
No liberal believes in absolute freedom. We restrict freedom of speech by outlawing incitement to violence or racial hatred, and we restrict freedom of movement by putting in place border controls. Liberals are not anarchists: they believe in the need for some kind of State structure to protect life and liberty.
While we certainly cannot ignore the influence of religious fundamentalism worldwide in suppressing freedom of expression, I would submit that the future of free speech in Britain will depend rather on the willingness of those who believe in free speech to stand against criminalising offensive speech for its own sake...
Professor Jean Pierre Tourtier, Chief Medic of the Paris Fire Brigade, had never spoken in public about the aftermath of the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. His precise descriptions of what he saw had a barely-suppressed intensity that took me by surprise: "The first thing I remember, even before I entered the Charlie Hebdo office - was the smell. A smell that was a mix of gunpowder and blood - that metallic smell of blood. Then I saw a pile of bodies. And someone at the back of the meeting room said - in a voice that was almost gentle - 'Monsieur, s'il vous plaît, aidez-moi'."
Bombing Islamic State targets in Syria may, possibly, help to reduce the threat of further IS advances in Syria and Iraq and may, again possibly, help to reduce the threat of further attacks in Europe. What it will not do is 'defeat' the ideology that underpins its appeal to those who flock to join its ranks.
I'm tired of people confusing Muslims with Islamic extremists either through their own ignorance, laziness or prejudice. I'm tired of people saying we need to get 'them' out of our country, as though the actions of a minority represent the views of so many other innocent people just like you and me.
Throughout modern British history, mass demonstrations and protests have often been demonised and depicted as the work of trouble-makers, hooligans and extremists. It was the same old story last week as 10,000 students descended on London to protest against tuition fees and the abolition of maintenance grants, which led to the arrest of 12 protestors.