The Politics of Equivalence
This new law will allow a police officer to decide on the spot whether your behaviour would cause offence within a “reasonable person”. This law allows differing individuals, with all of their own pre-conceptions and natural bias’s, to make a judgement on somebody, issue a fixed penalty notice and mark one more tally on the scoreboard. It could create the farcical situation where you could walk down a line of 5 Police officers with a banner. The first 4 read it and let you keep going, then the 5th will do you for it. An offence should be an offence. A statute should not be couched in such ambiguous language as to give a struggling, under pressure Police force, carte blanche to stop and fine at the football on their whim.
Have any of you ever tried to get from the Police the breakdown of the ratio of Celtic to Rangers fans arrested at derby games for sectarian offences? Don’t try. They say they do not keep those statistics. You can bet your bottom dollar they will under the new law and you can bet that the past will be airbrushed again and every journo and phone-in shock jock will be able to pull out the stats, compiled within hours of the game finishing, showing that Celtic fans are indeed as bad as Rangers fans.
This is what we now have to look forward to.
You could understand their need to rush through this legislation if this was a brand new problem in society that is not covered in law. Not so here. All the offensive behaviour being cited is well covered within the statutes as they are. The problem is the Police are not enforcing the existing laws. Do the Police / SNP really think giving their officers the power to decide what is offensive and fine somebody is going to make any headway into this issue? Contrary to their actions I do not believe them to be that stupid so there must be some other motivation as it certainly cannot be to tackle this issue, if it is I suggest they would fail their own “reasonable person” test.
There is only one way to solve this problem and it is not via a “reasonable person” test it is via education. Questions need to be asked as to where the next generation is learning to hate. It is certainly not on any national curriculum. Initiatives then need to be undertaken to make this hate socially unacceptable, like they did with drink driving. Most of all the problem needs to be named and its scale must be admitted.
Unfortunately we may have been out-manuevered already, the SNP have been at pains to associate this problem purely with football from day 1. They now have the holy grail within their grasp, they will be able to show numbers that both sides are as bad as each other. The core of this problem lies within the demographic that makes up the large majority of the Scottish voting public. Ultimately this legislation will allow them, and all other administrations that follow them, to walk away from making vote losing decisions that would be for the good of the country.
Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, but more often than not we vote for turkeys!