Society and Culture

The passing of the SNP’s Hate Crime Bill is a betrayal of the Scottish Enlightenment, says IEA expert

Responding to the passing of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, Marc Glendening, Head of Cultural Affairs at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“The passing of the Scottish government’s Hate Crime Bill is a betrayal of the liberal ideals of the Scottish Enlightenment. David Hume, Adam Ferguson, Adam Smith must be now turning in their graves.

“This authoritarian and sinister piece of legislation crosses a Rubicon in making even private conversations potentially criminal. In so doing, the Scottish government is entering legal territory that no other supposedly democratic state has ever entertained. 

“The Act will also allow the authorities to charge individuals on the basis of statements defined as being ‘abusive by a reasonable person’. This is carte blanche to suppress any robustly expressed statement on issues defined by some, subjectively, as matters of great personal sensitivity.

“Will, for example, Scottish feminists who repeat the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of what it is objectively speaking to be a woman find themselves prosecuted for having engaged in an ‘abusive’ act towards transgender individuals? Will traditional christian, muslim and jewish people be accused of ‘abusive’ behaviour when opposing same sex marriage?  Will football supporters who sing loyalist or Irish republican songs also find themselves on the wrong side of an allegedly ‘reasonable person’?

“Who is to define what constitutes ‘reasonableness’ and how can it be measured objectively? In a free society, surely it is the right of citizens to express views that the allegedly ‘reasonable’ majority rejects as extreme or objectionable.

“The vast majority of Scots have told opinion pollsters that they oppose this illiberal piece of legislation. It will be interesting in time to see if this democratic majority makes its voice truly heard regarding this Act.”  


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