One of my fondest attachments is to the belief that evidence persuades people. What I mean by this is that I myself have always liked a good argument, have always tried to listen to different sides, and have been known in conclusion to change my mind and opinion about this and that.
One of the things that people like me are up against is the mentality of those who have no intention of ever having a change of mind or opinion about anything at all important. Such people are to be found presently in the BBC and the Iranian parliament. At the BBC the Director General has claimed that his programme-makers tackle Islam differently from Christianity, not because of fear of provoking radical elements, but because Islam in this country is a minority religion and we must therefore be particularly sensitive to the feelings of its followers.
Comedian Ben Elton is having none of it:
'There's no doubt about it, the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass. They might pretend that it's, you know, something to do with their moral sensibilities, but it isn't. It's because they're scared. I know these people.'
Meanwhile, back in Iran, Christian Solidarity Worldwide is urging parliament to drop a draft Bill that would codify the death penalty for apostasy. It is estimated that more than 40 Christian converts are in prison for whom rather more than their moral sensibilities are at stake. To change your mind about Islam in Iran can land you in jail and, if the law is changed in accordance with a recent parliamentary vote of 196 to 7, to the gallows, or other equally unpleasant means of execution supported by holy scripture.
Down the road in Iraq the Christian minority are receiving similarly sensitive treatment at the hands of their Muslim majority hosts. In the northern city of Mosul over the past two weeks at least 14 Christians have been killed, and more than 1300 families have fled, many of whose homes have been blown up.
Now in the interest of balance I think a little joined-up thinking is called for. I don't think the deal the BBC has struck is good enough. 'Please stop killing our folks and we won't tell jokes about yours', doesn't quite do justice to the seriousness of the hour.
Because it is serious, of that I feel sure.
It could be worse.