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Scotland's hate crime law

My first question is - is it the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021? (PDF here, web version here).

I ask because I have heard a number of deeply disturbing things about it in various sources online, which don't seem to be mentioned in the legalese (as far as I can tell, I'm not a lawyer).
They are:

  • One can make anonymous reports.
  • One can report on what somebody said to somebody else in private.
  • If a conviction is not successful, it is to be recorded against the accused as "a non-crime potential hate incident" (which can then be available to employers and such).
  • The police are obliged to respond to every single report.
Are these real provisions, or misinformation?

And then, a couple I caught in the text of the legislation:

  • There doesn't need to be an actual victim.
  • It is a defence to say that the "stirring up hatred" behaviour was, in the circumstances, reasonable.
  • The protected attributes are: age, disability, race/colour/nationality (including citizenship)/ethnic or national origins, religion or, in the case of a social or cultural group, perceived religious affiliation, sexual orientation, transgender identity, variations in sex characteristics.

 

Let's break all of these down.

One can make anonymous reports
While I can understand that anonymous reports might help potential victims to come forward, especially if they are from a group that is frequently discriminated against, this does raise two problems. The first is that unless the perpetrator confesses, it's liable to need to go to court, at which point who exactly is the accuser?
Secondly, this raises huge potential for making anonymous false declarations in order to harass people.

One can report on what somebody said to somebody else in private
This is simply wrong. If what was said was said in private, who told the person making the report? Did they tell what was actually said or what they felt was said?
I agree that stamping out hate speech is a noble aim, but any report should be accompanied by direct first hand evidence - a recording, an email, the person actually being there and hearing it themselves... It shouldn't ever be "a friend of a friend said".

If a conviction is not successful, it is to be recorded against the accused as "a non-crime potential hate incident" (which can then be available to employers and such).
What the hell is this? If somebody is cautioned, then sure, record that. If a person is convincted, then sure, record that. But if neither happens (perhaps due to insufficient evidence or an understanding that the 'hate' in question is actually a justified remark) then this should not be recorded in any form.
To put it in alternative words, if I want to my local supermarket and put loads of stuff in my trolley and then unloaded it onto a conveyor belt, and then repacked it into the trolley and then paid for it all, should this be recorded as a non-crime potential shoplifting incident because, well, because I dress in black and wear headphones while shopping and somebody somewhere thinks that I'm the sort of profile that would steal stuff?
Recording non-crimes is essentially revoking the presumption of innocence. What next, citizen scores?

The police are obliged to respond to every single report
I note that a big factor in the proposals is the police publishing detailed annual reports on dealing with hate crime. I trust they will also detail how much public money and policing time was spent on dealing with this (especially if chasing up anonymous third-party reports) rather than providing an actual police presence, which is probably what a lot of people would want.

There doesn't need to be an actual victim
This is wrong. I can understand the point behind this was probably to stop thinking like "all <some group here> are <offensive well-worn stereotype>", but unless the accused made their hate public (like a tweet or somesuch), how exactly does the government expect to secure a conviction with nobody acting as the victim? If the government would take on that role (like "The People vs Some Random Nazi"), how strong is the case without direct evidence.
Of course, if the perpetrator posts some hate crap on Twitter X, then they probably deserve the roasting they're going to get, though social media these days is toxic enough that I can imagine plenty of valuable police resources will be wasted fizzin' o'er this fair fickler.

It is a defence to say that the "stirring up hatred" behaviour was, in the circumstances, reasonable
Of course, we run into the problem of defining reasonable. Is it reasonable to yell insults during a Rangers v Celtic match? Maybe, maybe not. Context is everything but it's also a very vague concept. After all, an Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman walked into a bar...

The protected attributes are: age, disability, race/colour/nationality (including citizenship)/ethnic or national origins, religion or, in the case of a social or cultural group, perceived religious affiliation, sexual orientation, transgender identity, variations in sex characteristics.
My first thought, looking at that list, is that existing legislation pretty much deals with discrimination on each of those characteristics.

My second thought is that "transgender identity" is a tricky subject. I think it is perfectly reasonable for a person to have the opinion that a "man" is born with a Y chromosome and a penis, while a "woman" has only X chomosomes and a uterus; and that these are fixed and immutable. This isn't phobia or malice or discrimination, it's a basic biological fact.
That's not to say that we shouldn't treat transgender people with respect, it's worth reflecting that it's quite a big deal for a person to reject their birth gender and want to be the other (or maybe neither). However wanting and being are not the same thing...which is why this is a tricky subject.

And my third thought, strongly reinforced by section 12 "The power to add the characteristic of sex" is that there is something horrifically deficient in legislation against discrimination and hate that fails to consider basic gender to be a protected characteristic. Or, to put it much more bluntly, it would appear that in Scotland now, women born as men have better protections than women born as women. What the fuck, Humza, Are you utterly tone-deaf to the struggle of (biological) females for pretty much the entire existence of the Abrahamic religions?

 

School photos

A pretty schoolgirl
A pretty schoolgirl,
photo by her mother.
Say hello to Erin, on the right here.

Cute, isn't she?
She's real, not an AI generation (you can tell, her eyes match!).

Unfortunately, this is where the story takes a decidedly darker turn. As reported in The Daily Mail (and where I got the photo) or here in French, Erin's class photos were done by a company called Tempest Photography that specialises in school photos (amongst other things), and they apparently offered parents the ability to order photographs with disabled and SEN children removed from the photos.

No, dude, that's not okay.

Given Erin's earmuffs, I'm just going to guess that she has some form of autism and doesn't cope well with the noise and distractions of day to day life. But rather than being omitted and deleted, she ought to be praised for being able to interact in a school with other children. God knows, it's often challenging to deal with normies.


To put this into context, he's a photo of me shopping. The mask is because the photo was taken during the Covid Era.

Going shopping
Me, shopping.

One of the very very few benefits of not having a mom any more is that I no longer need to pretend to be "normal" (and fail miserably). Yes, I look weird. You can call me weird if you like, I've had people say that for the entirety of my existence, so don't think I'm going to be upset if you join in, just mildly disappointed in your lack of originality.

For my part, since introspection is something I do constantly frequently, I want to try to understand my weirdness. Sunglasses indoors? I'm not a Blues Brother!
But, it turns out, that it's a lot easier to go shopping if I cut down on all the bright lights, and wear headphones to play music that has familiarity plus also active noise cancelling in order to mute out the rest of the world. I don't wear headphones when interacting with the checkout girls, I feel that it would be a bit rude, but it's quite a shock taking them off. It's so bloody noisy!

However, by doing this, I can slow down, take time when shopping, and think about what I need and do comparisons and such, rather than just wanting to get the hell out.

I feel that I lack an input filter. So you're talking to me, right? And over there is a guy talking about his pet goldfish and over there is a woman getting stressed because it's the end of the fiscal year and she has to file her tax declaration and you're talking to me and I'm getting a bit lost because I'm wondering if goldfish need to file taxes and if so how would it be done? They'd have to put in a waterproof screen with a resistive touch cover because capacitive (like your smartphone) would fail miserably underwater, but the problem with resistive is that it needs more force to activate (as you're literally pushing the two parts together), and would an itty bitty fish really appreciate repeatedly headbutting a piece of glass to state that it lives in a tank rent free, gets free food, and doesn't have earnings to declare? And then, if fish need to make tax returns, why not cats? The answer is obvious, because cats would fill out everything wrongly on purpose. Not because they're stupid or malicious, but just because that's the nature of a cat. So, um, what were you saying again?

Oh, and it's far far worse in French as there are plenty of sounds that aren't in my native language mixed with other people talking in the same way, plus many random factory sounds. Sometimes when people talk to me I end up giving them a blank look. That's not because I'm dumb (although I rather suspect that's what people think), but because I literally wasn't able to extract enough from all of the other noise to have a hope in hell of working out what was being said - it fee is said near that prod be follow level useful not cussion multiple fridge talking should week ... or something. Huh?

As for school photos, well, here's mine from 1990.

My school photo
My school photo, 1990.

Back then it was a photographic camera that slowly swept the scene from left to right. Yes, there were incidents of a boy running from one side to another, though the photographer caught these and redid the photo after chastising the person concerned.
Given that the material (I think it was some sort of glass plate?) was not particularly sensitive, the photos were taken on bright sunny days, so I'm usually the one squinting or with my eyes closed.
We didn't have the power to 'shop photographs back then (photography was a hands-on manual process), but I can't imagine that such a thing would have been desired. Not just because it was a special needs school and I was (one of) the weird one(s), but because these are my school memories. The few friends I had to the complete arseholes I'm glad I never met again in my life. I wouldn't want to edit out anybody.
In fact, the only sad thing is that looking at this photo thirty four years later, there are very few people I can put a name to...

I do wish I could end this story here. I really do.

But...

The Daily Mail also reports of a young girl in a different school who wears very thick glasses being asked to remove them because "her mummy would like a photo of her looking pretty".

What.

These people shouldn't be working with children.

 

 

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jgh, 9th April 2024, 16:02
Digging into this a bit, it wasn't that certain pupils were removed from photos. It was that the photographer started taking photos as pupils arrived - as you do, you always take a few test pictures to check everything is working, and the "undersirables" arrived slightly later than the rest of the pupils. So there were photos with, eg, 85% of the pupils present, 95% of the pupils present, 99% of the pupils present. Somehow the process allowed parents to chose from all the photos and some chose from the 95%s instead of the 99%s. 
 
Another thought is the whole concept of "class photo" seems wierd to me. yerwot? The *whole* *class* in one photo? I don't want a photo with 29 strangers in it. All my school photos and those of the people I went to school with were *just* *me*. Surely a "school photo" is a photo taken at school.... not a photo of everybody in the school? These are "school photos": pics.mdfs.net/1979 
jgh, 9th April 2024, 16:05
If your "Mummy wants a picture of you looking pretty", then your Mummy gets the photo taken themselves. Eg: pics.mdfs.net/1974/740022.htm
Rick, 9th April 2024, 16:46
Hmm, sounds like somebody is trying to rummage around for a plausible excuse to calm the storm. If *I* was the photographer, yes, I'd take a few test photos but they wouldn't be with the children posing (you know, attention spans and such), it would just be in the direction of where they'd be and of whoever happened to be there. Then they'd get deleted. I'd then take several photos in rapid succession to pick the best (the ones with the fewest kids blinking or whatever). I certainly wouldn't have them all properly posed with children absent, and if I did by mistake (if I was under the impression that everybody was there), any retakes would replace the earlier photos. 
 
As for offering photos with different numbers of children present, well, I bet if the "unwanted" (a better word than undesirable, IMO), turned up first, there wouldn't have been a choice. After all, this is the same company that implied to a young girl that she looked "pretty" when taking her glasses off, so... 
 
At my junior school we had horribly posed individual photos (like you draw like a drunk spider walked in ink, so here, hold some paintbrushes!). I think mom got one and we didn't bother the next year. 
At boarding school, it was the vastly widescreen photo of everybody, done once per year. I suppose, living with everybody, you get to know who to avoid and who's worth noticing the existence of. 
 
I don't have many school photos (photography was expensive back then), but one that I have... someplace... is of me sitting between two boys. Yes, I managed to make a couple of almost-friends. ;) We had Chuckie Egg in common. 
 
No, a "school photo" should be one taken of you with your class (at the very least). If you want one just of you, get your parents to do it. It'll be better and cheaper and probably taken somewhere much more interesting. I mean, drenched and windswept and running in terror from the psychotic gulls on Bognor's lousy attempt at a beach or sitting in the school library wondering why nobody has touched the books since the time of Anne Boleyn? Decisions, decisions...  
30 kids in your class? Bloody hell... I think the largest class at boarding school was about 12 or so. 
David Pilling, 10th April 2024, 02:38
I like your school photo 1990. 45 in my class at one time. No school photos in Sec. Mod. Like do they have class photos in prison. I can imagine given the choice some parents would have various kids removed from photos - older prejudice, poor kids... 
 
But no, this is your class, you are stuck with them forever. Like the annoying people you walk into a supermarket at the same time as. They will follow you around. 
 
How about the team photo. At Uni, they did photos of the department staff and PhD students and the same for the various research groups. 
 
Peril of someone one turning out to be famous on your school photo. 
 
The other tale they tell is of the kid holding a ring above his head to make it look like he was the notable one. 
 
Hate crime - see how it turns out.
David Pilling, 10th April 2024, 16:32
Seems many thousands of hate crime reports, almost all of them not to be taken further. I mean wow, waiting for the day it is a crime and then reporting it. 
 
So if I say "all grammar school boys are rotterts" that's OK because they're not a protected species. 
 
Or, typical of that smart alec type, do I find they've made themselves into a cultural group. 
 
Coming up on the rails has to be the insurance industry, bad drivers have more accidents - nooh you can't say that. 
 
Part of Ms Sturgeons job description was irritating anyone South of the border, but I feel she has had a bad deal from Police Scotland, about five years of investigation and they've brought no charges. 
 
Watching it all, I feel Scotland is getting ever more another country, twas ever thus that they had their own laws and legal system. 
 
Odd in Covid to watch leaders of Wales and Scotland come out with their own version of lock down etc. Given idea it is just like England - my problem I suppose. 
 
David Pilling, 10th April 2024, 16:37
I'd like to report Taylor Swift "haters gonna keep on hating" <chant> LOCK HER UP! </>
jgh, 12th April 2024, 23:46
Bloody porridge wogs. Oh no! Lock me up! :)

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