A Scottish Government spokeswoman last night defended the legislation.Source: Scotsman
She said: "Racism, bigotry and sectarianism have no place in Scotland, and those who perpetrate such behaviour will be punished through the full force of the law. These new laws will send out a clear message that there is no place for bigots in a modern-day Scotland.
"If approved, anyone who peddles sectarian hatred - in any football stadium in Scotland, on the way to or from a game, or hiding behind a computer screen - could now face up to five years in jail."
The phrase "have no place in Scotland" is uniquely expressive of the totalitarian impulse that lies behind this and much other do-gooder legislation. It's not that the Scottish government is alone in this. Many western governments now use similar language routinely and rarely find themselves challenged for it. But they should be.
With the sole exception of immigration policy and the problems that result from it, the idea that a government should decide what does or doesn't have a place in the country is fundamentally sinister. It is not the role of a government to attempt to alter the moral sensibility of its people.
If there are racists in Scotland, then racism has its place in Scotland. If there are morris dancers in Scotland, then morris dancing has its place in Scotland. If there are people who worship Adolf Hitler as some kind of demonic god in Scotland, then Hitler worship has its place in Scotland. It is the people who should decide what does or doesn't have a place in Scotland, not the government.
The notion of regulating a state of mind is also creepily totalitarian. To attempt to do this, or even to talk as if you were doing this, is to create actual or apparent thought crimes. All that a government can legitimately do is prohibit actions, not states of mind. Even if the racist action of denying someone a job on racist grounds, say, is made illegal, racism itself is not. Extending the rhetoric from the action to the state of mind delegitimises and dehumanises a section of the Scottish population. Of course this is the intent. But it is an anti-democratic, totalitarian intent.