Police Scotland and the Scottish Government Reported for Hate Incident

David Robertson wrote this piece on his blog last week. It is reproduced here with his permission.

I have just fulfilled my civic duty and reported both Police Scotland and the Scottish Government for a ‘Hate Incident’ following this incident described yesterday: The ‘Hate’ Police are Now Here

To Police Scotland and the Scottish Government

I would like to report a Hate Crime, as the Scottish Government and Police Scotland encourage us to do so: One Scotland 

Going home the other day I noticed a poster that said: "Dear Bigots, you can’t spread your religious hate here. End of sermon. Yours, Scotland.“ This is part of a series which is also addressed to transphobes, homophobes, racists etc. The only problem is that this is produced by the Scottish Government and Police Scotland.

You state that “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.” By your own criteria your posters, especially the one on religion, is a hate incident. I perceive it as being motivated by hate and prejudice.

Why? In my day-to-day life I experience a great deal of anti-Christian prejudice, fuelled by ignorance and prejudice. Your poster will just add to that. You imply that it is religious people who are responsible for what you call homophobia and transphobia (although you don’t define what you mean by these terms – is being opposed to SSM ‘homophobia’? Is believing that a woman is a ‘female adult human’ transphobia? By not defining your terms you have of course left room for people to claim your support for anything that they determine is ‘phobic’).

Examples of the hate mail I regularly receive (most of this was online and public):

“I hate organised religion, but boy I sure hate you more.”

“Never mind the theory, just LOOK at the fella. Wouldn’t want him anywhere near my kids!"

“Personally, as a secularist, I hate religion and feel I have every right to, despite attempts by the Scottish government to sneak a blasphemy law round the back door by making it an offence this year to hate religion.“

"Religion as a dangerous substance is clearly demonstrated by DAR as addict. He pedals the stuff, overdoses on his own stash, misuses and abuses. Lock your doors."

"Don’t come back to this country…you are not welcome."

I can give you numerous examples of people being bullied at school because they are termed ‘bible bashers’, sometimes even by teachers. Workers who are scared to tell their colleagues that they go to church; a student whose lecturer openly and publicly mocked her faith as ‘stupid and dangerous’ in front of her whole class – to say nothing of the general attitude in culture and much of the media. We have a situation where some people are scared (rightly or wrongly) to be seen going to church in case they are discriminated against in their employment. Your poster only legitimises these attitudes and that hatred. It is based on ignorance and prejudice.

The language of the poster is that of hatred, anger, prejudice, exclusion and intimidation. There is within it the implicit threat, if not of violence, at least of criminal prosecution. The poster is designed quite deliberately to mock and to stir up prejudice against religious people but especially Christians. Even small things like the use of the font (old tyme) – one that is often used in old religious style publications. The use of religious language to mock religion is an old trick – but not one I would expect the police or the government to use.

The exclusive nature of the post is also disturbing – you sign it ‘yours Scotland’. You call your website OneScotland which distinctly implies that those of us who don’t agree with the political/social ideology you are seeking to impose on us all, don’t really belong to Scotland. But this is our country as well as yours. You don’t have the right to call yourselves ‘Scotland’ – as though the rest of us don’t really belong here. Since when do you have the right to speak for the whole of Scotland? You put up this hateful, mocking, threatening poster in our name.

I am not the only person by any means who has these concerns. Numerous people have contacted me to express their disgust at your poster. For example I received this message today. “As a person of faith I find this deeply offensive and bigoted”. I have spoken to several people who feel threatened and intimidated by your hateful poster. Many people thought it was so bad that it as a spoof, a joke or just ‘fake news’. It really is that ‘unbelievable’.

I realise that the idea behind the posters is good. You want to prevent hatred…so do I. You want to stop bullying. So do I. You want to promote love. So do I. (although I would love to know what you mean by love? – and please try to be be a little more coherent than ‘love is love’!). The trouble is that your poster will only encourage hatred and bullying. Do you really think that any homophobic person is going to look at any of your posters and think, “oh, I’d better stop that”? They are more likely to look at it – be annoyed and if anything intensify their behaviour. At best what you are doing is virtue signalling – at worst it encourages hateful behaviour. You don’t encourage love by promoting hatred of religion.

The list of ‘phobias’ is somewhat selective. I don’t think it is right to use abusive language or actions against any LGBT person. But then I don’t think it is right to use abusive language or actions against any person. Will Police Scotland and the Scottish Government be producing posters for those who are targeted for abuse because they are fat, or short, or elderly, or ginger, or from Dundee? I note with interest that the list of ‘stories’ on your website is 50% LGBT – for only 1-2% of the population. What you are doing is in fact discriminating.   You are creating and using politicised hate crime legislation that elevates the rights of some groups over others. The job of the police, or the government is not to do that. You should apply the law equally to all. You should not be telling us how to speak or what to think.

I hope you will take my complaint seriously. By your own criteria (‘“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.”) you have committed a hate offence, one that in my view is likely to lead to actual crime (e.g. vandalism against churches). You say that to report it is to stop it. I hope that you will remove the posters, apologise for the crass insensitivity shown and please get back to the job of policing crime;  not opinions, ideas or thoughts.

I look forward to hearing from you,

David A Robertson, St Peters Free Church, Dundee

“The further society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it” George Orwell.

If anyone else wishes to report this ‘hate incident’ you can do so here – you can cite it as online abuse.

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