The Corner


Scotland’s Hate Crime Bill Is Still a Mess

Previously, I noted the problem with Scotland’s “Hate Crime and Public Order Bill,” which I have argued should interest Americans if for no other reason than as a cautionary tale that illustrates why attempting to legislate thoughts and opinions is farcical and authoritarian.

Today, the Scottish government will vote on a list of 40 amendments that would supposedly alleviate concerns about free speech. But though these amendments are perhaps better than nothing, they do not address the bill’s core problem.

For instance, conservative Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) Liam Kerr and Adam Tomkins have proposed amending the bill to include a “dwelling defense,” which would essentially mean that should your embarrassing old uncle get drunk and start saying politically inflammatory things, he won’t be prosecuted.

Humza Yousaf, the Justice secretary, who came up with this monstrosity of a bill, also put in an amendment to establish that “discussion or criticism” of matters related to the bill’s list of protected characteristics (age, disability, sexual orientation, transgender identity, variations in sex characteristics) would still be permitted. This prompted Joan McAlpine, a feminist MSP skeptical of the transgender movement, to add an amendment to his amendment stating that criticism might also include “that which may be perceived as offensive.”

What a mess! Clearly, the only sensible thing to do here is to consign the entire bill to the Scottish government’s growing dust heap of failed authoritarian initiatives.

I had more to say about it here:

But don’t take my word for it. Jim Sillars, former deputy leader of the SNP, put it in even starker terms:


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