Harold Evans on a free speech incident:
Something similar happened at this year's Hay-on-Wye festival, sponsored by the Guardian, where a five-person panel discussed "Are there are any limits to free speech?" One of the Muslim panelists said if anyone offended his religion, he would strike him. A lawyer, Anthony Julius, responded that Jews had lived as minorities under two powerful hegemonies, Christian and Muslim, and had been obliged to learn how to deal nonviolently with offense caused to them by the sacred scriptures of both. He started by referring to an anti-Semitic passage in the New Testament - which passed without comment. But when he began to list the passages in the Koran that denigrate Jews, describing them as monkeys and pigs, the panelists went ballistic. One of them, Madeline Bunting of the Guardian, put her hand over the microphone and said words to the effect [...] She was cheered, and not one of the journalists in the audience from right or left uttered a word about free speech - not hate speech, mind you, but free speech of a moderate nature.I've excised the words Evans attributes to Madeleine Bunting, since he doesn't claim to know precisely what she said, and neither do I. But Bunting wasn't simply a panellist, she was in the chair; and I have heard from others who were there that she intervened in broadly the way described - that is, in a not very balanced or even-handed chairperson-like manner. What a surprise.