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"Offense" Could Be Too Sectarian For Scotland

The Bill can be viewed here:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s4/bills/01-offbehfoot/index.htm

It all seems to be disguised under the presumption that offensive behaviour "will cause public disorder". There is so much wrong with this.

First, this statement has more or less admitted that the public will be wound up by anything. And that it would rather solve the problem by stamping out one offensive idea after another in the name of those who haven't grown up enough to learn they can't control the whole world, as opposed to advocating an idea that would be said by some to be on par with the utmost difficult of tasks: changing the T.V. channel whenever a hurtful idea is expressed.

Second, it seems to lay responsibility of any actual violence caused with those who made the provocation just as much with those who were provoked. Any school teacher will tell a child that being called something nasty is no excuse to start raising his fists. Yet, this basic rite of passage seems to pathetically fall away simply because much bigger issues are being ignored. I don't know what the jail term is for a common assault, but what I do know now is that a term of up to five years could lie in wait for those who did nothing other than express an opinion.

Third, it leaves what can be deemed "offensive" entirely in the hands of those being offended. It is bad enough that nobody is in a position to make the call of whether or not content goes over what must be a subjective "line in the sand" of offense, but for a bunch of would-be-anyway hooligans, or would-be-anyway Daily Mail writers to make that call instead?

Fourth, the bill gives special protection to religious opinions. In fact, those "things referred to in subsection (2)(a)(iii)" could all be discriminated as religious ideas, and then there would be a contradiction: disgust against homophobic ideas or racial ideas may indeed be forbidden if the person expressing these ideas claims that criticism aimed towards him is religious discrimination. This is all nonsense. We are going to get stuck in a great rut indeed if masses of religious people start getting together to play the victims whenever they are criticised for homophobic principles.

I am more than certain that there are laws already in place that would prevent threats and plots. Who would be insane enough to say that the bomb threat against Neil Lennon did not prove that we need more security enforcement, but rather it proved that we need more laws?

To put forward a law restricting the expression of hateful opinions is to miss and obscure the point at hand. It only indicates how badly uneducated most of us are: to judge one for race, religion (before hearing one's exact beliefs on certain issues), sexuality or gender is clearly absurd, and it's going to be harder and harder to ridicule such ideas and know why they should be ridiculed when we can't listen to them. We do not need laws restricting racist chants in football stadiums in order to know how vile they are. The same goes for homophobia. But even if after all of this we could still say we needed laws forbidding religious hatred, it says a lot about what we think of ourselves and what we desperately need more of.

The mentality of politicians putting forward new laws is really just an excessive means of making their stances known to the public in some pitiful reassurance that the core problems are "being tackled". And now, whether it's the SNP's nationalistic ideologies or just pure incompetence, freedom of speech is going to suffer another blow at the hands of the world's smallest violin. "Hate laws" are bad enough already here in the U.K. And I fear that the actions of the Scottish Parliament in putting forward this insult to democracy may cause similar effects down in Westminster for whenever similar situations arise.

TAGGED: CENSORSHIP, LAW


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