Conservative “Party leader Douglas Ross said the pledge to repeal the legislation would see the Scottish Parliament ‘overturn the dangerous threats to freedom of speech'”
On Thursday, Scotland passed a watered-down version of its Hate Crime Bill. The attack on free speech is still rather alarming even in its less overtly tyrannical state. For example, it includes criminalizing utterances made in the privacy of one’s home.
The Bill, which passed what passes for a parliament on Thursday, is weaker than the one introduced but it is no less sinister. It is an authoritarian smash-and-grab on freedom of speech, extending the power of the state to regulate and punish expression far beyond consensus functions such as maintaining public order and deterring incitement to violence.
The legislation creates a sweeping new offence of ‘stirring up hatred’. Liable for prosecution will be anyone who ‘behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would consider to be threatening, abusive or insulting’ — or communicates such material — if he or she ‘intends to stir up hatred against a group of persons based on the group being defined by reference to race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), or ethnic or national origins’, or if ‘a reasonable person would consider the behaviour or the communication of the material to be likely to result in hatred being stirred up against such a group’.
The same offence applies for hatred based on ‘age; disability; religion or, in the case of a social or cultural group, perceived religious affiliation; sexual orientation; transgender identity; variations in sex characteristics’, except for these categories only ‘threatening’ or ‘abusive’ language will be criminal. Yousaf freely admits that his law will even apply to utterances made in the privacy of the home. Penalties range from fines to seven years in prison.
The sheer scope of the offence cannot be overstated. The definition of ‘communicating’ hatred, for example, includes ‘displaying, publishing or distributing’ material, ‘giving, sending, showing or playing’ material for another person, or ‘making the material available to another person in any other way’. It will be for sheriffs and judges to determine but that definition could very well capture the boomer who hits the ‘share’ button on a grim Facebook meme about Muslim demography as readily as the skinhead who distributes neo-Nazi pamphlets on Jewish racial inferiority.
While some of the more outlandish provisions in the original Bill have been excised — including a section on prosecuting actors and directors of stage plays deemed to ‘stir up hatred’ — this law remains to its core a radical assault on liberal principles. It is a reflection of the insurgent ideology of coercive progressivism
Speaking of Scotland's ruling party, they've also just ushered through a new "Hate Crime" bill which criminalizes "stirring up hatred" by "displaying, publishing or distributing" materials which members of various identity groups may "reasonably" deem "threatening or abusive" pic.twitter.com/T91jSDurWz
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) March 14, 2021
Given recent expansions in popular notions of what constitutes "incitement," "harassment," "violence" etc. it would be folly to just assume that the First Amendment provides a complete bulwark against these trends. Particularly as Trans issues continue to grow in prominence
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) March 14, 2021
Scottish conservatives are already campaigning on it, promising to repeal it should they win the majority in May.
Party leader Douglas Ross said the pledge to repeal the legislation would see the Scottish Parliament “overturn the dangerous threats to freedom of speech”.
He said other opposition parties “did not do enough” to stop the bill from becoming law, calling for a cross-party alliance to repeal the Bill in the next Parliament.
The Bill, which aims to consolidate and extend existing hate crime law, was passed 82 votes to 32 on Thursday after months of debate and multiple amendments.
Mr Ross said: “Backed by Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens, the SNP have passed one of the most extreme and outrageous laws in the history of the Scottish Parliament.
“We opposed the SNP’s Hate Crime Bill and our manifesto will pledge to repeal it.
“We will seek to overturn the dangerous threats to freedom of speech and our fundamental rights that [justice secretary] Humza Yousaf refused to remove. The SNP Government has no place criminalising what people say in their own homes.
“Other opposition parties did not do enough to force the SNP to fix this shambles of a Bill, but I now ask that they take this moment and reconsider. Work with the Scottish Conservatives, stand up for free speech and join us in including a pledge to repeal this Bill.
Scottish comedian Leo Kearse posted a great (and hilarious) take on the bill. He gets serious towards the end, including a quote from President Reagan, so watch the whole thing. (Strong language warning)DONATE
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