I suppose it sums up the mentality we are dealing with, when two sets of supposedly grown up adults forego the many possibilities and wonders the internet has to offer, and instead use it as a platform to hurl hate filled abuse at one another in the form of delightful expletives such a “hun” or “fenian”. I’m sure that’s not what Leonard Kleinrock nor J.C.R Licklider had in mind when they first tantalised the world with talk of an “Intergalactic Computer Network”
But as if the sight of these intergalactic keyboard warriors was not bad enough, last week saw a further unedifying dimension to this battle – a blanket bombing of hypocrisy and double standards. The revelation that SNP Candidate for Argyll and Bute, Brendan O’Hara had used hate speech on a message board to describe Rangers supporters was accompanied, of course, by the almost mandatory “apology”. Amazing how remorseful such individuals are when they are exposed. I’m sure Scott Lamont was equally remorseful, but that didn’t stop him receiving a 4 month jail sentence for singing the Billy Boys. So much for the European right of “equality before the law” Orwell it seems was correct – “All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others”
But the actions of the prospective candidate for Argyll and Bute, pale into insignificance when one examines the actions of the political party he represents. A party who commandeered a bulldozer to drive their much criticised anti-sectarian legislation through Holyrood, continue to endorse a candidate who engages in the type of hate speech they sought to criminalise. If Carlsberg did hypocrisy they would probably be a poor second to the SNP. (I only use the word “probably” to retain the sentiment of the original Carlsberg advert)
On Rangers message boards across the internet the forthcoming election has generated considerable discussion. To the ridicule of others, some fans have suggested voting in keeping with their football allegiance, with the critics suggesting such action is ludicrous. Is it really any more ludicrous than voting for a party who endorse a candidate guilty of hate speech against our club? Such action certainly appears to contain elements of the proverbial turkey voting for Christmas.
The simple truth is that the SNP’s anti-sectarian bill is a complete and unmitigated disaster irrespective of its apparent selective application. Or to quote Sheriff Richard Davidson’s legal description – “mince”.
Some argue further suggesting that it has been more of a hindrance than a help in tackling the problem.
They were well warned but clearly such warnings went unheeded.
In fact when one considers the list of persons giving evidence before the committee, and their subsequent opposition to the Bill, one wonders if anyone was actually listening to the evidence presented by the various invited contributors.
Perhaps even more sinister is the silence of one of our country’s most eminent authorities on the subject of sectarianism – Professor Steve Bruce of Aberdeen University. In his book “Independence of the Scottish Mind” author Gerry Hassan interviews various Scottish commentators including Peter Jones of the Scotsman/Economist. Jones discussing the subject of sectarianism remarks:
“I mean Steve Bruce will now not talk about the subject at all’.
Hassan wrote a few lines later: ‘What is relevant to this discussion is that Jones felt Bruce was “silenced”.
One has to ask the question why and by whom a Professor, backed up by academic research, and who presents a far more positive image of our country than those who for political capital, tarnish her with the label of suffering from a “secret sectarian shame” is effectively silenced?
And Good Lord, our country is in dire need of some positive imagery. Unless of course you class baying and organised mobs, acting in a threatening and intimidating manner with the sole purpose of usurping the right of freedom of speech as witnessed in Glasgow yesterday, as positive imagery. Or the paradox of Republican Bands marching under a banner of “Hope Over Fear” through the streets of Glasgow.
In fact why does hate speech have to have any religious connotations to qualify it as a crime?
Most reasonable people of whatever political or religious persuasion should be utterly appalled at the levels of abuse suffered by internet pro-unionist blogger Effie Deans, or Ruth Davidson – none of which is religiously motivated. Yet it as poisonous, insidious and as harmful as anything with a religious connotation.
Prof Steve Bruce may have been silenced but it is imperative his message is not.
“Scotland’s disgrace is not religious bigotry. It is the unthinking way in which sectarianism is assumed”