It's not in my nature to go out of my way to offend in the way that Charlie Hebdo does but I've been proud to use the slogan 'Je Suis Charlie'. I share the view of Voltaire that I may disagree with someone's point of view but I will die to defend their right to express it. Well, maybe not die but certainly show support.

When someone says something deliberately designed to provoke violence, like calling for attacks on minorities, they should be stopped but if their views are simply offensive, they can say what they like as far as I am concerned. I find certain comedians highly offensive in their racist, homophobic, misogynist views but I would not stop them performing in theatres. I am offended by The Sun's Page 3 photos of naked young women but I wouldn't ban them.

It's great to see so many people protesting at the Islamist terrorists' attempt to stifle free speech in France. But there's a lot of hypocrisy over the matter of censoring free expression. I'm not talking about Saudi Arabia, I'm thinking of the many occasions when the arts in the UK have been censored in recent years.

It's only ten years since a Birmingham theatre cancelled a play written by a Sikh which depicted a rape in a Sikh temple because of demonstrations, some of them violent, and the tour of Jerry Springer The Opera was cancelled after protests by a Christian group that believed it to be blasphemous.

Just last year, a 'hip-hop opera' at the Edinburgh Festival was banned after pro-Palestinian protests against the theatre company who received an arts subsidy from the Israeli government. Clacton-on-Sea removed a satirical Banksy mural depicting pigeons waving anti-immigrant placards at a lone swallow, lest it offend immigrants. London's Barbican Centre closed Exhibit B, a critically acclaimed piece of anti-racist performance art, because some people protested that it was racist.

There's always a reason: a concern for the safety of the venue's staff, the unwillingness of the police to allocate sufficient resources to defend it, not wanting to offend a section of the local community. The reason doesn't matter, this is all self censorship because of pressure from people who won't tolerate those who have a different view to them.

If we really believe that we are all Charlie, we owe it to those who were murdered in Paris to stop giving in to people who are offended by someone else's free expression.

This blog was written by Paul Lewis, owner of the Winchester based marketing consultancy Seven Experience. You can connect with him on Google+ and LinkedIn