PC Culture

Mad Cows and Hate Crimes

Police officers in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2010. (David Moir/Reuters)
The Scottish government aims to protect people from real harm and also from those dreadful haters who might participate in wrongthink.

My blood is no use in America. What I mean is, as a native of the British Isles, born amid an epidemic of “mad cow” disease, I am theoretically a carrier of this brain-wasting affliction and, accordingly, forbidden from donating my sanguine elixir to U.S. blood banks — on the off chance it’s madly bad (or is that badly mad?).

At first, I thought this rather far-fetched. But when my visiting mother presented me with the Scotsman from last Friday — front page: “four cattle have been slaughtered in efforts to contain the first case of ‘mad cow’ disease in Scotland in a decade” — I reconsidered.

Incidentally, there is a strange quirk in Scots law protecting the bovine. According to the Licensing Act of 1872, it remains illegal to be drunk and in possession of a cow. But I digress. The Scotsman report reassured: “Authorities have said the public should not worry as no infected meat entered the food chain.”

Of course, this slaughter, like restrictive blood donation, is a precautionary measure intended to protect the general public from risk of serious harm. This is an obvious point, perhaps, but it is an important one by way of contrast.

Picture this, if you will: The Reverend David Robertson, a Protestant minister at St. Peter’s Free Church in Dundee and author of the delightful TheWeeFlea blog, was riding his bicycle through the lively Scottish city when one of the following signs caught his attention.

Apparently, these posters are part of a new campaign, funded by the Scottish government and run by Police Scotland (no less), intended to stamp out the terrible crime of — um — “hate.” Before we get into why this is vague, silly, playground stuff, I’ll share with you my first question: What presumptuous arse (I’d put it more strongly, but it would only be edited out) thought to sign this on behalf of the entire country?

There’s much more to parse here. “We believe people should be allowed to be themselves. Except if they’re spreading hate,” one poster addressed to “transphobes” declares. Another directed at “bigots” warns that “we don’t want your religious hate” and “that’s why if we see or hear your hate, we’re reporting you. End of sermon.” Which is a surprisingly open admission of religiosity from the Scottish government.

Indeed, as I have written elsewhere, I have deep concerns about Scotland’s overreaching new religion, which is too often indistinguishable from the Scottish Nationalist Party–led Scottish government. I call it the Church of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, because, with all its shrill hypocrisy, that is what it is. The Church of EDI fills the spiritual void in our godless times, offering easy virtue to eager members. Not to everyone, mind you.

No. The Church of EDI decrees that traditionally minded Christians — and I imagine Jews, too — don’t deserve the privileges of diversity, equality and inclusion. Take, for instance, the “gentle giant” Father Mark Morris, who was given the boot from Glasgow Caledonian University for praying, inside his own church, several miles from campus, in “reparation” for a local gay-pride march. Or Ann Henderson, the rector of Edinburgh University, hounded for retweeting an announcement of a “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” event that had been organized to discuss the possible undermining of women’s welfare by proposed legal changes that would allow men to identify as women without even a doctor’s note.

Anyway, the Reverend Robertson and his parishioners were rightly unsettled by this. So Robertson decided to report the poster — on the campaign’s own website.

(Ingenious! I must buy him a pint someday.)

As you may have noticed, not all hate crimes are actual crimes. Which is why “hate incidents” can also be reported. Here’s how the Church of EDI campaign, backed by the Scottish government and Police Scotland, defines a “hate incident.”

A hate incident is any incident that is not a criminal offence, but something which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hate or prejudice.

There is an emphasis on “third-party reporting” in this effort, recruiting all those virtuous busy-bodies out there who wish to report “hate incidents” on the behalf of others… Like I said: vague, silly, playground stuff. More effective as a means of menace, than preventing menace.

Of course, real prejudice may well lead to an offense such as unlawful discrimination, harassment, or assault. But those offenses are already against the law (and rightly so). So how is a campaign to prevent “hate crimes/incidents” a proportionate, discriminate, legitimate precaution for the Scottish government to take? How is it not a giant waste of time and money that could be spent on more important things?

Just to paint a picture here: Scotland had the highest level of drug-related deaths in Europe last year. The city of Glasgow (my hometown) has seen a 17.9 percent annual increase in online fraud, which is especially worrying for the old and vulnerable. The Scottish education system, where I trained as a teacher before developing a stress-related smoking habit, is marching backward, the National Health Service is at crisis point, and — oh, mad cow disease is back.

Madeleine Kearns — Madeleine Kearns is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. She is from Glasgow, Scotland, and is a trained singer.

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