"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." is a quote often, incorrectly, attributed to Voltaire. It's a belief which I hold dear, the right to Free Speech.
I bring this up because of the recent outcry relating to comments made by DUP flat earther Iris Robinson.
While being interviewed last week she called homosexuality an "abomination". This was made worse by the fact that there was a recent brutal attack on a member of the homosexual community.
She also said that gays could be "cured",
"I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals - trying to turn away from what they are engaged in. I'm happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become heterosexuals."
Now, first things first, there is no doubt that Iris Robinson is a moron. Anyone who believes that gay people can be "cured" is allowing their religious views to cloud their judgement. Sexuality, in most circumstances, is not a choice.
I don't get into the whole homosexuality good/bad thing because quite frankly it's none of my business. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home is their choice, so long as it's legal.
I personally believe it's unnatural, which it is, but I accept that for most gay people it's as natural as the sun rising and setting.
I still don't understand why anyone would get upset over what Iris Robinson believes or says. Why would any homosexual get upset or let their lives be ruled by other peoples prejudices, toughen up ffs!
Stephen Scott, who was assaulted by three youths in Newtownabbey, said her comments "disgusted" him.
Mr Scott said Mrs Robinson's comments had made him feel worse.
"I certainly will not rest until she stands down for what she's done, because she's made my life hell since her comments,"
I'm sorry; I don't by that for one second! How in the name of sweet Jesus has she made his life hell? If a person is that fragile then I'm afraid that's their problem.
Noam Chomsky said it best when he stated "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."
Freedom of expression is central to any democracy and I will defend to the end Iris Robinson's right to spew her ignorance and intolerance. I don't believe that her comments were incitement to hatred, they were her opinions and if we can no longer express those then the system is truly rotten.
I see that Martina Anderson has called for her to resign and both Martin McGuinness and Catríona Ruane have called on her to reflect on her public opinions.
For my part equality runs both ways, people have a right to live their lives with respect and dignity but people also have a right to free speech.
Republican's should be careful before we try to censure others as we are well aware of how said censorship feels.
If a person is comfortable enough in their own sexuality then her comments will not matter a thought.
I believe that Abortion is murder, will I one day be threatened with the police over an incitement to hatred charge?
I will not live under the yoke of intellectual oppression where each man and woman is not free to say as they wish within the confines of the law.
"I am opposed to any form of tyranny over the mind of man."