“Perhaps we could give good faith a try”

Writing in The National, Andrew Tickell notes that while there are valid criticisms of the Scottish government’s proposed hate crime legislation, “conspicuous by its absence in the first wave of criticism Holyrood’s Hate Crime Bill has received is any morally serious reflection on why hate crime might matter, and might merit being talked about in a careful, thoughtful way.”

If you are racially abused on a routine basis at work, who could blame you for deciding to pack the gig in? If churches or synagogues are trashed or graffitied with hateful slogans, it is a message to every worshipper. If a same-sex couple is abused in public because they have the audacity to hold hands, they are never the only victims of the treatment meted out to them. To borrow a phrase from the late Lord Rodger, gay people who hope to share “the small tokens and gestures of affection which are taken for granted between men and women” are put on notice that it may not be tolerated.

…We rightly worry about chilling effects on free expression, but routine intimidation and banal harassment create their own social deep-freeze, as people censor themselves, adopt avoidance strategies and live their lives constantly exposed to how they’re perceived, and the potential prejudices of those perceiving them..

…You may not have experienced this in your life – but talk to people who are consistently on the receiving end of this kind of social treatment and you might not talk about “hate crime” in such a sneering and condescending way, or present the issue as a self-indulgent cartoonish enterprise in “woke” identity politics.