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The right to critique ideas, philosophical, religious and other must be protected...

An open letter from Rowan Atkinson and others criticises Scotland's disgraceful censorship bill


Link Here11th August 2020
A joint open letter from over 20 individuals and organisations highlights their concerns over the impact on artistic expression and free expression of the draft Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill.

The letter co-ordinated by Humanist Society Scotland has support from authors Val McDermid, Chirs Brookmyre and Alan Bissett alongside arts administrators Dame Seona Reid and the artistic director of Dundee Rep, Andrew Paton. They join Cartoonists Rights International and academics such as Prof AC Grayling and Prof Timothy Garden Ash alongside many others.

The letter reads:

We represent a diverse group of individuals and organisations concerned about the impact on freedom of expression of the proposed Hate Crime and Public Order Bill as currently drafted.

We welcome the provisions to consolidate existing aggravated hate crimes and the repeal of the blasphemy law.

However, the Bill creates stirring up offences without any intent being examined; merely that the words, action, or artwork might do so. This offence could even be applied to being in possession of materials produced by someone else, where sharing the material could stir up hatred.

The unintended consequences of this well meaning Bill risk stifling freedom of expression, and the ability to articulate or criticise religious and other beliefs.

As currently worded, the Bill could frustrate rational debate and discussion which has a fundamental role in society including in artistic endeavour. The arts play a key part in shaping Scotland's identity in addition to being a significant economic contributor.

The right to critique ideas, philosophical, religious and other must be protected to allow an artistic and democratic society to flourish.

Fraser Sutherland, Chief Executive, Humanist Society Scotland
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, Humanists UK
Scottish PEN
Index on Censorship
Chris Brookmyre, Novelist
Val McDermid, Writer
Elaine C Smith, Actor and Comedian
Dame Seona Reid, Arts Administrator
Alan Bissett, Playwright and Novelist
Ruth Wishart, Journalist and Broadcaster
Andrew Panton, Artistic Director Dundee Rep / Joint CEO Dundee Rep & Scottish Dance Theatre Ltd
Prof. Maggie Kinloch, Theatre Director & Chair Humanist Society Scotland
Ariane Sherine, Comedian and Journalist
Joan Smith, Journalist, novelist, and human rights activist
Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Rowan Atkinson, Comedian
Prof. A C Grayling, Philosopher and Author
Prof. Timothy Garton Ash, Historian and author of Free Speech
Nick Ross, Television and Radio Presenter
Terry Anderson, Executive Director, Cartoonists Rights Network International
Gary McLelland, Chief Executive, Humanists International
Michael Connarty, Former MP and former Chair of Parliamentary Humanist Group
Dr Evan Harris, Former MP and former Vice-Chair of Parliamentary Humanist Group
Quilliam Foundation

 

 

Belfast stands alone against Chinese heavy artillery...

China pressured Belfast council to censor photo referencing iconic protest photo at Tiananmen Square


Link Here 27th May 2020
A Chinese Consulate put pressure on Belfast Council to remove an image of Tiananmen Square from a public art exhibition.

A photo from the Double Take exhibition, by Zurich-based artists Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger, displayed images of Airfix like model kits recreating globally significant events. In this case depicting an iconic image of a lone protester in front of a convoy of military tanks in Beijing.

The photograph was not removed, although it is understood the exhibition was scheduled to end a short time after the matter was raised. A council spokesman said:

We received a complaint in June 2019 in relation to a photograph in the Double Take exhibition, part of the Belfast Photographic Festival, on the front lawns of Belfast City Hall. The photograph was not removed.

Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan said:

It is outrageous that the Chinese Consulate apparently sought to have the photograph, commemorating the brave students of 1989, removed from the grounds of Belfast City Hall. The state censorship of Beijing cannot be extended to Belfast.

 

 

Commented: Scotland hates free speech...

And so is enacting extreme legislation to silence the views of the people


Link Here15th May 2020
Scotland's government has joined the ranks of many others around the world who are actively working on constraining free speech by amending existing laws to make them even more oppressive than before.

The current law restricting 'hate crimes' is similar to that in England and Wales, covering threats, abuse, and insults.

But based on what's described as a hard-line report from 2018, Scotland's upgraded Hate Crime and Public Order Bill proposed by parliament now looks to change that and introduce three new offences,

  • The first will enable for prosecution of doing anything, or communicating any material, which is threatening or abusive and is intended or likely to engender hatred based on age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender or intersex identity.
  • Secondly having material of this kind in one's possession meant to be in any way communicated to others will in itself now be a crime,
  • and thirdly, managers in organizations of any type not acting to prevent the new set of criminalized behaviours will be criminalized themselves.
The proposals' critics say it is anti-liberal and must not be allowed to pass, pointing out that the bill takes the focus away from punishing acts of hostility based on their gravity regardless of who they target, and instead introduces a tiered approach, depending on groups that are designated as considered more 'worthy' of the victimhood status.

 

Offsite Comment: Scotland's new hate speech law will be too censorious

7th May 2020. See article from secularism.org.uk

Offsite Comment: Scotland's chilling new blasphemy law censorious

12th May 2020. See article from spectator.co.uk

The new Hate Crime Bill proposed by the Scottish Government is a sweeping threat to freedom of speech and conscience. By Stephen Daisley

Offsite Comment: Hate speech: blasphemy for the 21st century

15th May 2020. See article from spiked-online.com by Emma Webb

We must never give the state the power to criminalise speech.

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