Burns, Hume, Adam Smith, and others who shone in that remarkable intellectual period in Scotland’s history, were not the cradle of the Enlightenment; but it is indisputable that they were major contributors to its emergence and influence. Now, north of the border, the Scottish government has set out to divorce us from the heritage those minds gave us: to be unafraid of, indeed willing, to discuss, probe, dispute ideas and thoughts in the liberating realm of fearless free speech.
Scots are now locked in a woke chamber: virtue signalling, pandering to perceived victimhood, punishing any who assert biological fact, placing a halter of criminality on free thought when articulated by speech, abandoning common sense. It is all there in the Scottish government’s hate crime and public order bill. From the towering height of the Enlightenment, the Scottish nation’s leaders have fallen to a low where intellectual rigour is not only an unknown concept, but can put those who practice it in the clink.
As the Soviet Union showed, as does China today, and as did the Vatican over many centuries, totalitarians seek to create a dislocation between thought and speech, thus eliminating ‘incorrect thinking’. Now the democracies are travelling down that road requiring us to check our thoughts before articulating them, in order not to fall into the sin of ‘thought crime’. So, no one should be surprised by the hate crime bill’s aim to mould our thoughts through the medium of the criminal law, so that the range of our speech is limited to what state organs regard as acceptable.
We have been here before in Scotland, with a law meant, not to make us thinking people, but better ones. That was the threatening behaviour at football and threatening communications act 2012, in response to Rangers and Celtic supporters hurling insults at each other four times a year.