David T lives in London and is a close neighbour both of a prominent committee member of the Stop the War Coalition, and of one of the would-be 21 July suicide bombers. He blogs at Harry's Place.
Why do you blog? > Two reasons. An old schoolfriend was the first, alphabetically speaking, of those murdered on 11 September 2001. Then, in the days that followed, I turned on my television to find that an old university drinking buddy was running a religious-political organization which vocally supported the aims and methods of the 9/11 murderers, and which sought to recruit further murderers. I blog to make some sense out of how the lives of two friends came to diverge in this way.
What has been your best blogging experience? > The discovery that some of the thinking aloud I have produced on Harry's Place is read and liked by writers whose work I admire.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Trying to polish a post after having taken a sleeping pill.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Don't prevaricate. The essence of blogging is that it is instant. Leave a thought too long and it becomes stale. Better to write something stupid and then bluster your way out of it if need be.
What are you reading at the moment? > Lighthousekeeping, by Jeanette Winterson. Disappointing.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Morrissey, Joe Strummer and David Munrow.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The Passion, by Jeanette Winterson.
What is your favourite poem? > John Donne's 'To His Mistress Going to Bed'.
What is your favourite movie? > Casablanca.
What is your favourite song? > 'Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want', by the Smiths. But it could be almost anything by the Smiths or Morrissey.
Who is your favourite composer? > Claudio Monteverdi.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Yes. I opposed the 1991 Gulf War. I was on a demonstration and tried to persuade a passer-by to join us. He explained why he thought we were wrong to oppose the war, and I had no answer.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Liberal pluralism.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Any form of authoritarian belief, particularly when it is masquerading as something else. My particular bugbear is the dignitarian conception of freedom: the notion, in Professor Mary Ann Glendon's words, that 'authentic freedom... cannot be detached from the quest for truth'. Although I do agree that you can sensibly make a distinction between valuable and valueless options and choices, I suspect that many dignitarian accounts of rights do little more than provide a liberal-sounding camouflage for moral authoritarians. Worst of all, though, are well-meaning liberals who assist in this subterfuge.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Raz's The Morality of Freedom contains a nuanced and subtle discussion of the role and the nature of autonomy, and of the primacy of a concern for autonomy within liberal thought. It was the first modern work of liberal political theory I read.
Who are your political heroes? > James Madison and Peter Tatchell.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In forming a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.'
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Paralysis.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > The best is yet to come. We're living longer and healthier lives. We are a disputatious and ingenious species and have a pretty good track record of solving problems sensibly. In any event, I've seen every episode of Star Trek and so I know it turns out OK in the end.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Certainly. I would hope and expect to convert them over time.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > In a panic, unconvincingly.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Sport of all types, both watching and participating. I wish I didn't feel like that, because I'd like to share other people's obvious enthusiasm for it; but there's no point pretending for form's sake.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > The deaths of friends and family members.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Paul Michael Glaser.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to play any musical instrument really well.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Groucho Marx.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I would devote my time exclusively to reading, writing and arguing with strangers on the internet.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > 'Don't smoke crack. It's a ghetto drug.'
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]