Friday, April 5, 2024

The Hate Speech Law.


The Union of Scottish Police Forces in 2014 came into effect on 1st April. 

Scotland’s Hate Crime and Public Order Act came into effect on April 1st 2024. 

There’s really no point in making fun of the Scottish government as it's just too easy.

Firstly, it should be said that under rulings from the European Court of Human Rights and the UK government as a whole, we were as protected as anybody else from hate speech that can cause public disorder and public offence etc. And we also have the umbrella term 'Breach of the Peace'.

The banners for the new law state Hate Hurts, and if you witness a hate crime, report it. 

And it's the word witness that is the issue - well one of the issues.  I recall when our writers group was banned from the local library as a word was overheard in a reading by a white South African whose father had been an anti apartheid campaigner. A white middle class woman had been offended .....and there was no comeback from us allowed. Nothing.

I was doing some writing that night and three times I stopped and thought.... is this hate speech I'm writing? Or comedy? Will I be arrested when somebody reads it. ( Actually, being flippant, I think that would really boost sales!)

One of the more sensible daily newspapers referred to the new law as 'an almighty omnishambles', maybe because 4000 plus complaints were made within the first 24 hours. And the police, beforehand,  had promised to investigate every one. 

Complaints were made against our first minister for his comment 4 or 5 years ago that in politics he was often the only non-white face in the room. Bearing in mind the ethnicity of Scotland, his statement is probably true. But under the new law it doesn’t matter if it's true or not, it's if somebody hears it and they deem it as hate speech it has to be investigated. And of course, he's now First Minister!

Just for the record, I apologise for all the incidents where I  have accused Americans of not using enough vowels. Also for the record, I don't find comments about Scots being drunks/mean/bonkers offensive either. Please carry on! But not if anybody else is listening and gets offended on my behalf.

The law is supposed to shore up offences that are aggravated by prejudice and that includes age for the first time. It also includes 'threatening or abusive behaviour that is intended to stir up hatred'. There has been laws against stirring up racial hatred in the UK since the 1980s but this new one is on grounds of age, religion, transgender identity, sexual orientation. 

Many people, many very angry people, have pointed it out it does not include those things called ......women.   

As a result of the outcry re women being excluded – and remember we’re talking legally here - there's  supposed to be another bill to tackle misogyny but that act has yet to be timetabled for any parliamentary time.

So to be strictly horrible, you can abuse a woman all you want. But if you abuse a transgender woman, then that's an offence, even if you are abusing her for being a woman. Obviously, the ideal situation is not to abuse anybody, but there should be a clear and level playing field with regard to what constitutes an offence and what doesn't. (Sorry, offense?) 

One journalist. Libby Brooks in the Guardian, referred to the 'global cultural war around freedom of speech and the right to offend'. 

And then there's the almighty battle between the rights of transgender people and the rights of women that now seems to be taking centre stage with JK Rowling on one side, challenging the police to arrest her the minute she steps back in Scotland to some members of the transgender movement on the other side who believe that Rowling is guilty of hate crime.

We were discussing this at writers group last night. We all have transgender friends or relatives who are perfectly happy to live their lives and have no desire to supplant women but feel more that they want to stand with women. So like everything, maybe it's the radicals on the fringes who want to change everything within the next 5 minutes, and it's going to all end up in one unholy mess.

The hate crime accusation against my friend is now being processed by the law although his first witness in his defence is his best pal who he allegedly committed the hate crime against. As it's not what A says to B but rather C overhearing it and putting them own interpretation of what is taking place.

The unfortunate thing I feel is that Scottish people like to banter. There’s even sketch shows on television about people from Edinburgh coming over to the west coast to listen to 'the banter'.  The law could be death of 'the banter'.

I think this week somebody at work will report us for our receptionists asking patients if they want to see a male or female practitioner. Anybody listening in the waiting area who sees a range of genders that we’re not offering treatment from could report that we are being exclusive and offensive. They could override the right of the patient at the end of the phone, who might be a guy with a groin problem who does not want to see a female practitioner. So far, the rule in the practice is, if the patient is happy, it's fine. There is now a big BUT over that sentence. 

And my head hurts.

Meanwhile here’s a little video clip that might amuse you. It's 2 minutes long and well worth the watch.

The Chief Apologises | Scot Squad | BBC Scotland Comedy (




  1. Thanks for the YouTube link, truly a classic apologist for modern society.

  2. No doubt the script writers will get getting a knock on the door soon!

  3. I love this, Caro, and couldn't agree more.

  4. Perhaps there should be a balancing bill to allow the victim of false hate crime accusations to be awarded compensation from the complainant. They couldn't call it a cash cow, though, as that would be offensive to bovines and that would be udderly wrong.