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Alex Salmond’s proposed new ‘anti-sectarian’ laws

Take a Liberty ( Scotland ) has launched a campaign against Alex Salmond’s proposed new ‘anti-sectarian’ laws. A statement and petition (see below) is being circulated around the UK to challenge what Stuart Waiton, from Take a Liberty (Scotland), believes is, ‘an almost unbelievably reactionary and authoritarian proposal’, being put forward by the Scottish government.

We believe that introducing a law to imprison people for up to five years because of offensive sectarian chanting or online comments is extreme and illiberal.


Signatories so far include.
Stuart Baird, Scottish Secondary School Teacher, Rangers fan and Take a Liberty ( Scotland ) supporter.

Dr Carlton Brick, Sociology of Sport, West of Scotland University, co-author Key Concepts in Sports Studies.

Eamonn Butler MA PhD, Director Adam Smith Institute, author of Milton Friedman: A Concise Guide to the ideas and influence of the Free-Market Economist.

Dolan Cummings, cultural commentator and contributing author of It's Rangers for Me?

Stephen Field, author of Prison Law Index: The Definitive A-Z Index of Prison Law.

Dr Chris Gilligan, Senior Lecturer Sociology, University of the West of Scotland, editor, Northern Ireland Ten Years After the Agreement.

Dr Donncha Marron, Sociology Lecturer, Robert Gordon University and Take a Liberty ( Scotland ) supporter.

Tom Miers, Editor Free Society

Steven Purdie, Principle Teacher Humanities, Calderhead High School, Celtic fan and Take a Liberty ( Scotland ) supporter.

Kevin Rooney, teacher, writer and Celtic season ticket holder.

Jonathan Simon, Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley, visiting professor of law, University of Edinburgh, and author of Governing through Crime.

Dr Craig Smith, Scottish based moral philosopher.

Dr Stuart Waiton, FRSA, Sociology and Criminology Lecturer, University of Abertay Dundee , Co-founder of Take a Liberty ( Scotland ).

Graham Walker, Professor of Political History, Queen’s  University of Belfast

‘No one should be subjected to intolerance, prejudice or violence in 21st Century Scotland’. So reads the Scottish Executive website discussing Banning Orders, introduced in 2006, orders that can ban abusive or bigoted fans from attending any football game anywhere in the world for up to ten years. Ironically, as the authoritarian discussion about how to rid Scotland of sectarianism rumbles on it appears that the Scottish Government are illustrating their own far more worrying form of intolerance, prejudice and violence.

Tolerance, it appears, today means not tolerating views that we don’t like. Not too long ago this was called authoritarianism. Now there is talk of making sectarian conduct at football matches a specific criminal offence punishable by five years in jail, with similar powers to target bigotry on the internet.

Not too long ago challenging bigotry and sectarianism was seen as a political challenge, today, like many other things, it has become something to be policed out of existence. But then even this is to take the reactionary approach of the SNP and today’s pundits too seriously. Any serious analysis of sectarianism in Scotland would have to conclude that it is largely a fiction. In fact if we take Rangers and Celtic out of the equation - where is this sectarianism? We can no doubt find some stupid kids fighting and call it sectarianism, but previously sectarianism was a powerful force in society, something that meant people would be denied jobs, houses, would never inter-marry, or associate with the ‘other’ side. Today none of this holds true. Celtic and Rangers fans may shout IRA or Fenian this and that, but they then troop off home to their Protestant wife or Catholic mates. Today ‘sectarianism’ is a 90 minute game and the main reason we are aware of it at all is because politicians and pundits are grandstanding, attempting to look tough and purposeful by doing their ‘thing’, which today means being ‘outraged’, standing up for the ‘offended’ and introducing all sorts of draconian law and forms of policing.

Strangely, this whole furore has erupted largely because of a few extreme acts – the sending of a bomb to Neil Lennon (for which there are already laws to send these idiots down), the scuffle between him and Ally McCoist (which actually wasn’t extreme at all but was portrayed as such), and the ridiculous assault (another criminal act) on Lennon at Hearts.

These events have magically been tied into the hundreds of thousands of everyday Old Firm fans who shout and sing at football matches. Here we find the prejudice of the Scottish elite about football fans, with their own comments filled with bile and hatred about this imaginary sectarian force in society, backed up with serious violence in the form of imprisonment for up to 5 years for singing a song that someone somewhere finds offensive.

No one should be subjected to intolerance, prejudice or violence in 21st Century Scotland, except that is for Celtic and Rangers fans. This is the real shame on Scotland.


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