As someone who considers herself to be liberal-minded, I am finding it increasingly difficult to extend my ideas of fair play and justice to everyone. And by everyone I mean all the nutcases and extremists and narrow-minded nitwits who rampage through the media, spewing hate speech and bigotry with the self-confidence of those who have never applied the rules of logic or compassion to anything. They rant against the secularists, the liberals, the everyone-who-isn’t-them, encouraging violence and venom. The irony, and to my mind, tragedy, of it all is that the “liberal” values of the people they perpetually attack are the very ones that allow space for this vitriol. Free speech, for example, and freedom to protest, are the reasons why we had a gigantic mullah sit-in outside the houses of Parliament in Islamabad a few months ago. That chappal-throwing extravaganza was brought to you by the powers of democracy, not CII-inspired sharia law. Bad, horrible western liberal ideas are the reason why a clear bigot like a certain three-name, half-rate columnist (no, not me) can issue an “aelaan-e-aam” that is clearly a call to incite instability and unrest in Pakistan and yet still not be in jail for treason. Because what is more anti-state and anti-religion and anti-logic than encouraging students to become spies, making videos of teachers with the sole objective of reporting them to the police for blasphemy? We all know what accusing someone of blasphemy means in this country: it is a death sentence. And yet here is Mr Jan, flagrantly violating all notions of privacy, free speech and safe academic spaces. Spy on teachers, lest they lead our children astray? That’s what they accused Socrates of doing. In this case it’s pretty clear who is encouraging students to do something wrong, and as it was with Socrates, it isn’t their teachers.

Let’s be clear here. Free speech means having the freedom, and safety, to express an opinion. The extent of that freedom ends when it violates someone’s rights as a human or puts someone in danger. Mr Jan is free to think whatever he likes of liberals or people who don’t believe in organized religion or whether sindhri mangoes are better than chaunsas, but his freedom of speech ends when he tries to use his personal beliefs to incite hatred. That is when free speech tips over into hate speech, and needs to be shut down immediately. People like Mr Jan think they’re so powerful because while they think nothing of violence and bloodshed as a way to get what they want, civilized people know that violence solves nothing. That killing musicians, activists and journalists might make you feel like you’re winning, but that doesn’t make you right. It only makes you a murderer, and even animals don’t kill each other like that. If people like you and me took up arms, we would be no better than the people who are willing to go to any length to intimidate and silence us. You don’t fight hate with hate. You defuse it with logic, and love.

Parents, talk to your children about this. Tell them why it is wrong to think, even for a second, that taping their teachers is in any way acceptable. We entrust our children to their teachers with the hope that they will harness their curiosity and their bright minds, and light a fire in them that will inspire them to be successful, both in this world and the next. Education means enlightenment, not turning your children into judgmental little twits. If you truly care about preserving the moral fabric of this nation, then learn tolerance for all, whether they are transgenders in Peshawar, atheists, homosexuals or your irritating neighbour who keeps chopping off the branches of your trees. If you are worried about instability, then learn to condemn violence instead of preaching it. Amjad Sabri didn’t deserve to die any more than Mr Jan does, because human life is precious and nobody should be able to decide who is allowed to live. That’s what it means to be liberal: to respect each other. We read this repeatedly in our Quran: that nobody knows our intentions except Allah, and that creating trouble and inciting unrest is despicable. The irony of this country is that the values of liberal, decent people are abused by vitriolic, hate-filled people who would be the first to cry for their mother if they were treated the way they treat anyone who is different from them. It’s time to think very carefully about what fasaad means, and how you can stop it from spreading. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be manipulated by those who try to tell you that evil is found in the clothes you wear or the people you choose to love. Evil is celebrating murder. Evil is finding joy in the misery of others. Evil is rejoicing in the death of Socrates.