Tuesday 26 March 2024

The SNP is undermining both law and morality


There is a lot of misunderstanding about what a hate crime is in Scotland. For which reason we must turn to the police for guidance. Police Scotland tells us

Hate crime is behaviour which is both criminal and rooted in prejudice.

The legal definition of hate crime is "any crime which is understood by the victim or any other person as being motivated (wholly or partly) by malice or ill will towards a social group."

It goes on to explain hate crimes are related to groups with protected characteristics

There are five groups or ‘protected characteristics’ covered by the hate crime legislation.

Religion or belief
Sexual Orientation
Transgender Identity

It then explains that how you might commit a hate crime against anyone with these characteristics by

threatening behaviour
verbal abuse or insults including name-calling
damage to property
encouraging others to commit hate crimes
online abuse on sites like Facebook or Twitter

The first problem with this is that it is grounded in subjectivity rather than truth. If I commit a crime against someone and that person or a witness says that I was motivated by hatred of one of the protected characteristics I have committed a hate crime even if I was not motivated in that way.

I might for instance choose to damage someone’s property by throwing a brick through his window. The victim or someone else might understand that I was motivated by them being gay. But I might not even have known that they were gay.

If someone declares that I have been motivated by hatred there will be no defence of demonstrating that I wasn’t so motivated, for instance because I was unaware that the person had a protected characteristic, because the legal definition is based on the victim’s perception.

But how does the victim know what my motivation was? Can he see into my mind?

This is to undermine the whole foundation of law and morality which is objective truth. There must be a fact of the matter in law. Either I did murder someone or I did not. It may be difficult to determine. We have courts and juries to judge, but they can be mistaken. But the concept of them being mistaken, requires there to be a concept of truth. They are trying to discover the truth and this truth is objective. But if a crime is crime merely because someone perceives it to be so, there is no truth. There is no fact of the matter. But if there is no fact of the matter then guilt or innocence becomes entirely arbitrary.

Not only has the Scottish government made being a man or a woman a matter of subjectivity and inner feeling, so too it has now made the law itself a matter of subjectivity and inner feeling. Just as a man can feel that he is really a woman, so too he can feel that he has been the victim of a hate crime based on a protected characteristic and that is enough for me to have committed a crime.

Worse than this I think is that the Scottish government has undermined the universality of morality and the law.

Law is different from morality but grounded in it. If everyone were perfectly moral, there would be no need for law and no need for the police and courts to enforce it. But it is only because we think that killing people is morally wrong that we have a law regarding murder. Without morality we would not know what to make illegal.

The foundation of Scottish law is Judaism, Christianity and the thinking of important jurists and philosophers through the centuries. But there is nothing in the Ten Commandments that gives one group of people a special characteristic that enables them and them alone to be a victim of a particular crime. There is lots about hate in the Old Testament, but I can think of nothing which says a crime is worse if it is done to a person with this characteristic rather than that characteristic.

So too there is nothing in the New Testament that makes behaviour worse if it is directed against black people or gay people. Rather what is radically new about Christianity is that it treats all people as being essentially the same.

I can find nothing in Plato or Aristotle that says that a deed is worse if it is done against this type of person or that type of person, nor do I find this sort of idea in Augustine, Aquinas, Kant or Mill.

Ever single system of religious, moral or legal thinking that I can think of treats humanity as being morally equal. From this we get “all men are created equal” in the United States Declaration of Independence, which is one of the cornerstones of western thought.

So not only has the Scottish government destroyed the objectivity of the law, so too it has destroyed the idea that we are all equal before the law.

Worse still the Scottish government has undermined the very foundation of Christianity.

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

The Scottish government replaces love your enemy with inform on your enemy. Instead of blessing those who curse you must try to get them arrested. If someone hits you on one cheek, find a protected characteristic with which to get him sent to jail for seven years. This is to replace Christianity and the very foundation of our laws with vengeance rather than forgiveness.

What matters in morality and what ought to matter in law is what I do rather than whatever malice or ill will I have towards a social group. In a free society I can believe what I please about people with any of the protected characteristics. It is not worse that I murder someone because he is a gay than because he is fat. It is murder that is wrong. It doesn’t absurdly become worse because the victim is disabled.

Ludicrously if race is a protected characteristic, then all of us can perceive that we are the victim of a hate crime because all of us have a race. Except as always it won’t be a protected characteristic unless you are from an ethnic minority. All races are equal except some races are more equal than others.

Anyone who has a special characteristic could in theory find anything any one of us says on social media to be abusive. It just requires the victim to perceive it as such.

For instance, I have a belief (and beliefs are protected) that the world is flat. You call me a “flat earther.” I am deeply wounded and offended and report you for abuse. Of course, the police won’t prosecute you, but that too is mere subjectivity. The police are not interested in protecting flat earthers. But they will protect people who think men can become women like water can become wine.

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