Scotland’s government, led by the pro-EU SNP party, has joined the ranks of many others around the world who are actively working on constraining free speech by amending existing laws and coming up with new solutions.
UK’s Spiked magazine says that currently a law regulating what is known as hate crimes is modeled after that in England, covering threats, abuse, and insults.
But based on what’s described as a “hard-line” report from 2018, Scotland’s upgraded Hate Crime and Public Order Bill proposed by parliament now looks to change that and introduce three new offenses, the report says.
The first will enable for prosecution of “doing anything, or communicating any material, which is threatening or abusive and is intended or likely to engender hatred based on age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender or intersex identity.”
In addition, having material of this kind in one’s possession meant to be in any way communicated to others will in itself now be a crime, and finally, managers in organizations of any type not acting to prevent the new set of criminalized behaviors will be criminalized themselves.
The proposals’ critics say it is anti-liberal and must not be allowed to pass, pointing out that the bill takes the focus away from punishing acts of hostility based on their gravity regardless of who they target, and instead introduces a tiered approach, depending on groups that are designated as particularly vulnerable and therefore more worthy of the “victimhood status.”
The proposed law is seen as too broad and blunt, particularly compared to a similar one in force in England now, as it would seek to legally punish not only behavior that is stirring up actual threats, but also what is merely abusive.
Regardless, pressure groups will continue to inundate Scotland’s police with reports complaining about speech as hate speech, but this type of law might sadly prove to he “helpful” to both, as it is likely to have self-censorship as one of its chilling effects.
“Campaigning organizations supporting unpopular causes – for example, attacking transgender orthodoxy – may well feel they have to tone down what they say. It is depressingly easy to imagine editors and campaigners engaging in a good deal of self-censorship to avoid trouble with the police,” Andrew Tettenborn writes.