Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the new figures showing an increase in sectarian or 'hate crimes' does little or nothing to give us a clear picture of what's going on. Also unsurprising is the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland leaping on the figures in order to play up their victim-status. The RCC may be a minority of sorts in Scotland and the UK but in other countries it is very much the right-of-centre conservative institution that most of us here believe it to be. The RCC uses its influence to spread its own kind of hate - usually against homosexuals, women or those who deviate from the Pope's world-view such as those who use contraceptives. On this last point, it should be remembered that the number of people who have contracted the HIV virus due to not using condoms is probably in the millions.
First question is, 'Who really gets offended by so-called sectarian abuse?'
Like many Scots, I have a fair bit of Irish blood in my family tree on both sides and of both 'sects'. Despite a standard Scots Presbyterian upbringing in a non-denominational state school as well as occasional attendance at the local Presbyterian smiling school, I don't think of myself as a 'Proddie'. Indeed, I'm an atheist. Further to that, as I also have an interest in Celtic-based politics and Gaelic language, wish to see a united Ireland and independent Scotland, I guess I could also be called a 'Fenian'. So, if I were to be insulted by someone, would I be a dour Presbyterian, Fenian barsteward or a dangerous godless atheist?
In the figures, it seems as if almost half of the offences were committed against police officers. Now, the obvious question to that is, 'How the fck does one tell a Proddie from a Catholic police officer?' Perhaps, officers are obliged to introduce themselves first. So, if the polisman says 'Hi, my name is Seumas MacNeill', how am i to know if the man is a MacNeill from Catholic Barra or a Church of Scotland one from Colonsay? If he says, 'I am PC Maginnis', should I ask if he's an Ulster Unionist Maginnis or a Sinn-Fein one?
A further 10% were hospital staff, bouncers and taxi drivers. As with the cops, how is one meant to determine to which branch of Christianity your nurse or taxi driver adheres?
I'd also be interested in knowing how many of these victims were actually religious in the sense of attending church regularly, praying at night and not masturbating?
We are also told that 'only' one-third of charges were made at football grounds. But, I'd be interested in finding out, if possible, how many of those arrested, anywhere, were followers of one of the Old Firm clubs.
|The Lord is our fkn shepherd, we shall not want.|
Nil by Mouth also spoke of the need for 'nationwide' action as all but five of Scotland's local authorities had persons with convictions. Again, I wonder what percentage of convictions occurred in the authorities closest to Glasgow and its twin hornets nests of Ibrox and Celtic Park. And, as above, how many of those arrested in any authority were Old Firm fans?
I also notice that the Western Isles were among the authorities that were 'clean' regarding religious hatred. This too is strange. Not because of the ordinary locals who in some places like Benbecula go to different churches but send their kids to the same non-denom school but because of the words of those in the pulpits. I'm sure that a leisurely Google search will soon throw up statements from the various Presbyterian sects regarding the Pope being the Antichrist or else about 'heathen' Muslims threatening our way of life. Surely this is religious sectarianism in its purest form?
Why should the Wee Frees - who know their mumbo jumbo inside out - get off while thick fitba fans who have never darkened the interior of a church are convicted of 'religious' hate offences?
If we are to move forward, we should treat tribal football-based hate crime for what it is. Equally though we should seek to remove real religion from public life as far as possible. This means no 'faith' schools run on public money - be they Catholic or Muslim. This also means an end to 'religious observance' in non-denominational schools.
All in all, this sorry saga is proof of Scotland's present backward status in some parts of our society. We can't blame it all on the Union and it isn't all doom and gloom but if ever there was a time to strive to emulate the civilised, prosperous and egalitarian nature of Norway -gun-toting conservatives excluded - then this is it. Not to mention the more marginalised nature of religion in our neighbour to the north.
Fuck religion. All of it.