"Let the others come after us. We welcome the chase. It is healthy for us.
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- William Struth

Extinguishing The Flame Of Liberty

Written by: NathanRobert86
Sunday, 22nd March 2015

"A man jailed for four months for singing a song. Despite this, the media stays silent."

No, this is not from the page of an Orwell novel. It is an event which recently occurred in present-day Scotland. Jail time is now given out by the SNP (via the OBIF Act 2012) for a variety of so-called 'offensive' behaviours' (ostensibly to prevent 'public disorder').

I personally see the act responsible for the criminalization of songs such like 'The Billy Boys' as nothing but an authoritarian assault on civil liberties. Freedom of expression, and effectively thus freedom of thought, is now a memory in Scotland. What shall not be forgotten by many readers is that Scotland is the crucible of political liberty; with a tradition of individual expression stemming from the Covenanters down to such seminal Scottish Enlightenment figures as Hume and Adam Smith.

How sad that it became one of the first victims of political correctness gone awry.

Let me make a few more specific points of interest here:

1. The Criminalization of 'Offense'
This trend is very worrying for a few reasons. First, it adds a subjective element to criminal law: almost anything you can think of is 'offensive' to some one or other. Historically, a liberal democratic state would criminalize actions - assault, murder, etc. These are not 'subjective' inasmuch as they are public actions. 'Offense' isn't like this - it is a matter of individual taste. So, in Scotland someone can be charged simply for offending someone's sensibilities. This is wrong, and violates any reasonable degree of freedom of expression. How are controversial political topics going to be freely discussed? They can't under this legislation, and this is how the SNP wants it.

Second, and related, what is a matter of offense is influenced by one's political ideology in a way which actions like assault are not. So it is no coincidence that Rangers-related songs are punished consistently while Celtic's favorites are not - the latter 'fit' the ideological lens of the lawmakers. Unfair? They don't care, for it 'offends' their Republican sensibilities. Any sensible person can see how ridiculous this is.

Thirdly, there is the point about paternalism - why should the state dictate to us what we can or can't sing, or what is or isn't offensive? This is the product of a sneering, condescending political class which looks at football supporters as Neanderthals. It is classic nanny-state groupthink. These are the types of people who would rather champion minority rights than look after the majority of their constituents. And while I am cautious of 'slippery-slope' arguments, if the political class is now dictating what you can't sing at a football ground, then it surely isn't a stretch to think that they may try net to dictate what political opinions you can or can't hold.

2. The (lack of) Media Pressure 
Just as worrying as the relevant legislation has been the total lack of coverage, let alone outrage, shown to the convicted. This is in stark contrast to the mass support shown to Pussy Riot by various left-leaning publications when the latter had their freedom of expression suppressed by Russia. Why the difference? Why are 'civil liberties' important when a Lesbian band is the target, but not when a Rangers fan is the target? We all know the answer to this: liberty and political expression matter to the left only when the accuses fit with their ideology and agenda. So much for 'tolerance' indeed.

Furthermore, what about the role of the media as the fifth estate? Well it looks like it no longer plays this role in Scotland. A responsible press will question government policy for sake of the 'bigger picture' even when it goes against intrinsic biases: suppression of free speech has consequences far beyond the football ground. Instead, so-called "pundits" (I use this term only reluctantly in this case) such as Spiers and English beat the straw man of the big bad Rangers support. Hardly responsible given what is at stake. My only conclusion is that the media in Scotland is closer to the type of media characteristic of an Eastern Bloc state rather than a democracy. For like Pravda, newspapers like the Scotsman and the Daily Record represent political reality as 'The Party' wishes.

The upshot of all this is the following: the people of Scotland are under authoritarian rule and are no longer guaranteed civil liberties (indeed the authorities seem to hold some, of not most liberties with contempt). The media is compliant. What can be done?

Know thine enemy: understand how 'political correctness' is used as a political weapon, and understand how the SNP operates (and that it grows out of the Troskyist '79 Group'. Information is power - don't let the political class get away with telling you how to think.

“It is true that the virtues which are less esteemed and practiced now--independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to bear risks, the readiness to back one's own conviction against a majority, and the willingness to voluntary cooperation with one's neighbors--are essentially those on which the of an individualist society rests. Collectivism has nothing to put in their place, and in so far as it already has destroyed then it has left a void filled by nothing but the demand for obedience and the compulsion of the individual to what is collectively decided to be good.”

Fredrich Hayek - The Road to Serfdom.


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