Guilty as complained of

Rob Jessel tests Scotland’s shiny new Hate Crime and Public Order Act:

As Lucy Hunter Blackburn explained in her superb analysis of the Bill, feminists were alarmed by its failure to address speech about sex and gender, arguing that it would increase the chilling effect on debate. The Scottish Government breezily responded that people would not be criminalised for making basic statements about the nature of sex and gender identity, in ordinary language. 

But they were joking. Jessel went to Glasgow Sheriff Court to support Marion yesterday along with a bunch of other people. What to wear?

As a minor but grizzled combatant in the gender wars, I have acquired a number of t-shirts stating biological facts, including one emblazoned with the basic, incontrovertible statement “Transwomen are men”. I thought it wise to ask the police if I’d be committing a public order offence or, worse, a hate crime, should I put it on.

The constables’ answer was textbook: “As far as we’re concerned, you’re free to wear what you like. But if it offends anyone and they complain to us, you will have committed a hate crime.”

Which textbook is that, one wonders. If someone complains to the police, you will have been accused of committing a hate crime. There’s a not very subtle distinction there.

At least in normal world that’s the case. Apparently in Scotland it really isn’t? The accusation really is the same thing as conviction?

This is the same Looking Glass world that Fair Cop has been exposing in England and Wales, where any complainant is automatically afforded “victim” status and the accused is recorded (often without their knowledge) as having committed a “non-crime hate incident” — all without due process of law. The difference is, however, that south of the border we’re only dealing with College of Police guidance. In Scotland, this is on the statute book.

I guess the fact that it’s recorded as an incident rather than a crime makes it ok to skip the due process part. (The cops chatting to Jessel seem to have been wrong on the facts.)

I know we’ve been around this track before but it keeps causing my brain to go into whirly mode.

Bear in mind that Marion is being charged under the old law. The new version will make it even easier for people to maliciously report other people, since they do not even have to prove an underlying criminal offence.

In this light it’s a very good thing that David Paisley is leaving Scotland.

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