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In the face of the barbarity unleashed in Paris there was the powerful sight of people holding up pencils in defiance.  A pencil is such a small, fragile, inconsequential thing and yet this act of protest dared to proclaim that the pen is mightier than the sword, the pencil stronger than the machine gun.

And if that seems an absurd claim then why have Saudi Arabia today begun carrying out the sentence of 1000 lashes on the Liberal Saudi Network blogger, Raif Badawi, as well as giving him a ten-year jail sentence?

Every one who blogs or tweets is in their own way affirming that it is wordsmiths and not gunsmiths who most lastingly reshape the world.

And with journalists, bloggers and tweeters affirm the importance of freedom of speech. For once the National Secular Society are right: “we cannot… place any religion beyond the reach of satire or critical examination”.  And to that add the same is true of any political, philosophical, scientific  or secularist thought.

Let us struggle with one another through words. Let there be pencils at dawn but may the ways of the violent never triumph. Je suis Charlie