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Before the 1960s, arguments for censorship tended to focus on sexual morality, pornography and obscenity.

Christians have to endure explicit denunciations of their faith all the time from such writers as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. If you can’t stand the heat, don’t listen to hellfire sermons from atheists.

Today, hurtful speech is more likely to be political speech than obscene speech. I recall, alas, making a very poor joke about literary deconstructionism. The literary, media and political worlds rallied in defense of Mr. He became a hero of free speech and a symbol—even if a slightly ambivalent postcolonial one—of Western liberal traditions.

My colleagues, though more sensible, were baffled and hesitant. But he also went, very sensibly, behind a curtain of security that was to last many years. Rushdie’s life but the lives of his publishers, editors and translators might be threatened—his base of support in the literary world thinned out.

Hearing criticisms of your own convictions and learning the beliefs of others are training for life in a multifaith society.