One of the key rules (invented by Keith Waterhouse, I think) in journalism is that one must never write anything based on having watched a programme on television or heard something annoying on the radio. Otherwise you end up with columnists using intros such as this: “I turned on Coronation Street the other night, and what a load of foul-mouthed rubbish greeted this viewer. Goodness me it made me long for the days when all men wore hats and tipped them to passing ladies as they stumbled out of the pub having had one too many pints of gin and bitter lemon.”

I am about to break the Waterhouse rule. It’s the internet. It’s 2016. And BBC Any Questions was just too annoying this week on the subject of the burkini ban in France and the associated row that has been rumbling. Police asked a woman on a beach in Cannes to remove her burkini, because they have been banned as religious dress in some parts of France.

My initial instinct on this subject is that of every good liberal sap. Wear what you like. How ridiculous to see armed police in France forcing a muslim woman to remove her burkini. France is the land of Voltaire. Would they do the same to a group of sunbathing nuns? (Do nuns sunbathe much?) Incidentally, the row reveals a strange crossover between ultra-PC liberals and religious social conservatives. The former tend not to like the West or their own countries much. The latter dislike robust secularism, which they fear is designed to shut them out of public life and debate.

Anyway, then the Any Questions panel got going, and it was extremely annoying. To a man and woman they parroted how awful the burkini ban is. If any of them mentioned, unprompted, the terrors that France has faced in recent years from Islamo Fascist terrorists and their allies, then I missed it. The pious person on the panel from the Women’s Equality Party (who never stops mentioning its existence) went so far as to say that she had registered her displeasure with the French embassy this week about the burkini ban. I am sure she did exactly the same after the Charlie Hebdo murders, or the Bataclan attack or the mowing down of women, children and men on the promenade at Nice, just along the coast from Cannes.

The only one who at least had the grace to sound faintly embarrassed by trotting out the approved liberal mantra was Toby Young. I excuse my friend Toby. It was the first question on that episode of Any Questions and on any such panel show most of the panelists are rightly wary of going too far in annoying the large audience early on. It is amazing how nerve-wracking such shows are to take part in – really not nice – and how comforting is that first wash of applause if you can get it by working out where the middle ground of the audience sits and what will get you the clap, so to speak.

But there was not much applause from the Any Questions audience for the panel’s anti-France anti-burkini line, which was interesting. Might it be that some members of the audience look at the row and think what a load of metropolitan muppetry when they hear France rubbished in this way? In Brexity Britain there is quite a lot of this feeling about, especially when there is such a widespread concern that we are at the very least having the mickey taken out of us by the noisy representatives of the very people who would not afford us equal tolerance.

France is under sustained attack from IS, an organisation that murders children and uses indoctrinated children to kill prisoners, wedding guests, anyone really. Have we forgotten this? It is not quite war, but it is about as close as you can get to it without a formal declaration of hostilities. France is on the frontline in European terms.

On the Cote d’Azur, which I visited this week, tourism has been hit badly by the fear of more attacks. Residents talk in terms of the coast which depends on tourists having been killed by what happened that night in Nice, when a bad bastard took a lorry and drove it into a crowd.

In such circumstances, who the hell are we to get all pious and pompous with French mayors and their citizenry when they say they want to assert their muscular secularism only a few months later? They want to send out a strong message that they are going to defend their country and its values.

Ah, Voltarire would have backed the rights of burkini-ists and the woman on the beach in the burkini has nothing to do with IS. Of course that is true, and I stress again that personally I can see that the ban – out of context – looks daft.

But context is king in this instance, and the French are feeling monumentally pissed off right now, and no wonder after years of attacks and weakness in Paris. That being the case, those who want to wear the burkha (which itself is sinister, and pretty thoughtless when you think of the restrictions it imposes on deaf people in western dress who need to lip read) have responsibility to respect local sensitivities. It is a damn sight more than they do in Saudi Arabia.

Let’s use some simple common sense on these matters and apply the thinking to other scenarios. As an erstwhile lapsed supporter of Rangers (Glasgow Rangers) it is my right to put on a Rangers top (I don’t own one, by the way) and go into a Glasgow pub full of Celtic fans. It is a right I would be unwise to exercise.

Life in a democracy and a free country is about such compromises and restraint. We all know that, surely. People in Cannes and Nice get jumpy, understandably, around people in burkhas and burkinis and want to reassure the remaining tourists who are also jumpy. Fit in as best you can or go somewhere else on holiday is the perfectly fair message.

Ultimately, it is the right of mayors, local politicians and voters, to take such action if they want to. It also a ban that can and is being challenged with vigour in France. The country has a court system, and lots of lawyers doing battle over definitions of freedom. Again, try looking for that in Saudi and you won’t get very far.

When we talk about these things, we should, then, remember that not everything is an abstract opportunity for us to demonstrate the purity of our pious media-compliant consensus thinking. We should have the humility to understand what our friends and neighbours in France are up against.