An old mate of mine is dying. Bloody cancer. And it's a bit of a bugger really, because in his heyday he was one of the most larger than life characters I have ever met.
Now he's a shadow of his former self. As far as I can tell, he divides his time between pain relief in the form of cannabis, and Facebook, which enables him to post the odd pic and comment to get a laugh out of his friends. Sort of reliving the glory years really.
Some of what he posts is probably, to many, offensive. Some of it I personally disagree with.
But, to borrow from Voltaire, if I may, I will defend to the death his right to say it.
On a similar note, today's Herald carries an article which highlights a comment by some obscure quango head called Jackie Blue on the Roger Sutton case. "Why was he allowed to speak", she demands to know.
Well the answer, Dr Blue, and all you other would be censors, is that we still just about cling to the concept of free speech in this country, and so we damned well should.
The censorship of speech is the single most terrifying step humanity can take. Because where does it stop? Who determines where the line will be drawn? It is the beginning of the end.
Because speech is an expression of though; if you try to censor speech, you are in fact attempting to control the way people think. And that is an Orwellian nightmare of grotesque proportions indeed.
My third example is that of Nigel Owens, the Welsh rugby referee who is openly gay.
I recall counselling him, some years ago, against making a public declaration of his sexuality. In the context of his career, it was entirely irrelevant, I told him. Those around you know, why foist it on the masses?
But he chose to, and it defined him. Just as Andy Murray oscillates between being seen as a Brit or Scottish, depending on whether he is victorious or not, so Nigel goes from being a "brilliant ref" to a "Welsh poofter" in one foul swoop of the whistle.
So when he moaned about it in the press, I sent him a message explaining why I thought it was his own fault.
You see, some people dislike homosexuality. Some dislike people will different coloured skin. Some find men objectionable, whilst others dislike women. Many see ginger hair as an object for derision. And so on.
You may not agree with how they think, but you cannot stop them from thinking it. And if you try to, you will simply harden their resolve.
Humanity is a savage, barbaric and untamed species. It cannot be muzzled. We try to control it through laws, but a quick glance at the size of the prison population will show the futility of this.
Freedom of speech is important because it allows people to unburden themselves of thoughts which trouble them. Kept bottled up these can multiply, but once released, they ease pressure on the brain.
Deprived of an audience, or found contemptible by an audience, people will think twice before repeating such utterances. They may even question their thoughts and feelings. And in time they may revise these.
But shouted down and told they may not have such thoughts or say such things? Nah, that will never work. If you don't believe me, look at the rise of the racist right in Europe. That hasn't happened by accident, it is a product of the frustration at not being able to call a spade a spade.
In the good old days, of course, such things would be settled by an old fashioned bout of fisticuffs. If bloke A called bloke B a ginger wanker, bloke B had the option of delivering an admonition in the form of a straight left to the jaw. Or, if he lacked courage to do the job alone, he could gather a gang of similarly ginger types and collectively they could set about the maligner until such time as he came to love red hair.
If a woman was abused by a man, one of her well mannered gentleman friends (in those days you could do this without the victim turning on you and calling you a sexist bastard) could set things right by using both left and right with considerable effect.
The administering of pain is remarkably effective, both as a deterrent, and as a resolution. People really do shake hands after a scrap.
Now, I am not advocating transforming this life into a general Donnybrook. But I am saying this. Let people say what they want. If you don't like it, either walk away and avoid them, or get a bit old testament about it. Stand up for yourself.
But do not try and censor them, because, all other reasons aside, it just won't work.