Home/Rod Dreher/Soft Totalitarianism Threatens Scotland

Soft Totalitarianism Threatens Scotland

Scottish Justice ministry Hamza Yousaf, defending new blasphemy hate crimes bill (Source)

This is incredible. The Scottish government has brought forth a new hate crimes law that stands to criminalize speech uttered within the privacy of one’s own home. I kid you not:

However critics fear the Hate Crime and Public Order Bill, which centres around plans for a new offence of “stirring up hatred”, will stifle freedom of expression.

BBC Scotland, Catholic bishops, the Humanist Society of Scotland, and the Scottish Police Federation are amongst those to have raised concerns, along with Mr Bean star Rowan Atkinson and writer Val McDermid.

Because of this, Mr Yousaf was forced to amend the legislation and change the controversial “stirring up” offences section which has been condemned by opponents.

It now means “stirring up offences” would be limited to “intent” relating to age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics and therefore prosecutions could only be brought in this respect.

During today’s session, Glasgow Tory MSP and Committee Convenor Adam Tomkins questioned the Scottish Justice Secretary [Hamza Yousaf] on how you can commit an offence of public order in private.

It comes after Mr Yousaf suggested during the committee session that he would be in favour of the stirring up offences applying inside home dwellings.

If that passes, then children who repeat things they hear at home risk informing on their parents.

If that passes, then reading passages aloud at home from the Bible could draw prosecution. In fact, simply having a Bible at home could bring prosecution from the state; possessing hateful materials would be a crime under the proposed law.

This is a bill that, if it became law, would put the Edinburgh-based left-wing author J.K. Rowling in danger of criminal charges because she has stood up for women against transgender ideology.

All of this in the name of turning Scotland into a safe space.

The BBC reports:

New offences of “possessing inflammatory material” are also created which covers people who “have in their possession threatening, abusive or insulting material with a view to communicating the material to another person”.

Finally, the bill formally abolishes the offence of blasphemy – which has not been prosecuted in Scotland for more than 175 years.

The government says the bill “makes it clear to victims, perpetrators, and communities and to wider society that offences motivated by prejudice will be treated more seriously and will not be tolerated by society”.

Those Scots legislators have no sense of irony: abolishing the Christian blasphemy law in the same bill in which they seek to impose a new, secular one.

See, this is how the Left does it. They throw fundamental political liberties under the bus for the sake of therapeutic goals. And look, this bill is the essence of totalitarianism: leaving no space outside the realm of politics. In an authoritarian society, a political leader or party exercises a monopoly on political power, but doesn’t care outside the realm of the political. In a totalitarian society, this is also true — but there are no spaces at all that are not political.

This new hate crimes proposal is not yet law, and we have to hope that it will not become law. But the fact that the ruling party in one of the oldest Western democracies has proposed this, and is defending it, is a terrible sign. This kind of legislation ought to be unthinkable in a free society.

I would be interested in poll numbers, if any exist, showing where this bill has support. Surely the ruling Scottish National Party would not have brought it forward if they were not confident that it had significant support. My concern here in the US is that the illiberalism of younger generations, which are far more supportive of restricting First Amendment freedoms, will result in these kinds of bills coming forward in the years to come. This is why I say that the federal judiciary is likely to be the last line of defense for the First Amendment.

If this bill passes, then Scottish people had better get rid of Alexa devices, and decommission Siri from their smartphones. As I write in Live Not By Lies:

Kamila Bendova sits in her armchair in the Prague apartment where she and her late husband, Václav, used to hold underground seminars to build up the anti-communist dissident movement. It has been thirty years since the fall of communism, but Bendova is not about to lessen her vigilance about threats to freedom. I mention to her that tens of millions of Americans have installed in their houses so-called “smart speakers” that monitor conversations for the sake of making domestic life more convenient. Kamila visibly recoils. The appalled look on her face telegraphs a clear message: How can Americans be so gullible?

To stay free to speak the truth, she tells me, you have to create for yourself a zone of privacy that is inviolate. She reminded me that the secret police had bugged her apartment, and that she and her family had to live with the constant awareness that the government was listening to every sound they made. The idea that anybody would welcome into their home a commercial device that records conversations and transmits them to a third party is horrifying to her. No consumer convenience is worth that risk.

“Information means power,” Kamila says. “We know from our life under the totalitarian regime that if you know something about someone, you can manipulate him or her. You can use it against them. The secret police have evidence of everything like that. They could use it all against you. Anything!”

You don’t think the leftist Scottish government, under this new law, would weaponize consumer technology in the name of getting at the devil of bigotry? Of course it would. That’s how totalitarians think. The fact that the government is perfectly fine with the law applying to words spoken inside the privacy of one’s home tells you all you need to know.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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