Fringe censors should trouble all of us

The Edinburgh Fringe is a world-renowned hub of artistic, literary, and theatrical expression. People from various industries appear at it to make a name for themselves, and tens-of-thousands of visitors descend on Edinburgh each year to enjoy its events. The Fringe is something to be proud of. It’s a boon to tourism, and Scotland’s internationalContinue reading “Fringe censors should trouble all of us”

Universities must uphold basic freedoms

Scotland is renowned as a seat of the Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation – two seismic historical events that laid the groundwork for modern, liberal democracies and demonstrated the value of individual liberties including free of speech, and free conscience. You probably wouldn’t guess this considering the illiberal goings on in our nation’s capital ofContinue reading “Universities must uphold basic freedoms”

Campus censorship must not become the norm in Scotland

Last night, a censorious mob gathered at the University of Edinburgh to disrupt the screening of a documentary about women’s sex-based rights. After occupying a lecture theatre and preventing those who had booked the venue from moving the screening elsewhere, they succeeded in their aim. The screening was called off. Attendees were forced to goContinue reading “Campus censorship must not become the norm in Scotland”

There’s worse to come in Scotland than the Hate Crime Bill

The Scottish Government has courted controversy with its social policy agenda: sweeping hate crime legislation, and gender recognition changes that undermine women’s rights. But what’s coming down the tracks at Holyrood looks even more troubling. In fact, the next item on the agenda could be one of the most controversial seen since devolution. Following activists’ demands, politicians’ promisesContinue reading “There’s worse to come in Scotland than the Hate Crime Bill”

Republicans need free speech too

Police action against anti-monarchist protesters has come under the spotlight this week. On Sunday, a young woman was arrested in Edinburgh after holding up a sign with a swear word on it stating, “abolish monarchy”. She has now been charged with an offence and faces a hefty fine or even imprisonment. Her arrest followed an incident involvingContinue reading “Republicans need free speech too”

Universities must reckon with free speech crisis – P&J

A new study suggests more undergraduate students than ever before support strong restrictions on free speech. The Higher Education Policy Institute asked 1,000 students at UK universities about free speech issues, and compared the results with an identical survey in 2016. Most respondents believed one or more political groups should be banned from speaking at universities. NotContinue reading “Universities must reckon with free speech crisis – P&J”

Defending free speech

I’ve taken up a position on the Scottish Advisory Council of the Free Speech Union (FSU). Others joining the Council include Jim Sillars, Peter Kearney, Joanna Cherry QC MP, Jenny Lindsay, Murdo Fraser MSP, Neil Thin, and Iain Macwhirter. The FSU is a non-partisan, mass membership organisation that provides legal support to people whose speechContinue reading “Defending free speech”

Give thanks for the freedoms we do have this Christmas

Freedom. There’s a word that’s been used a lot this year, and one that continues to weigh heavily on our minds. The pandemic has seen curbs on our ability to go about our lives as we normally would. We’ve seen limits on the number of people we can meet, the places we can go, theContinue reading “Give thanks for the freedoms we do have this Christmas”

Police Scotland should rethink non-crime ‘Hate Incident’ rules

This week, England’s Court of Appeal ruled that police guidance on the recording of “non-crime hate incidents” unlawfully interferes with free expression. In light of this, it’s worth looking at the situation in Scotland. Police Scotland also records such incidents. “Hate Incidents” are defined as any “non-crime” incident that is “perceived by the victim orContinue reading “Police Scotland should rethink non-crime ‘Hate Incident’ rules”

Tory online safety plans risk same mistakes as SNP Hate Crime Bill

As the SNP’s Hate Crime Bill crashed through Holyrood last year, its loudest critics were the Scottish Tories. To their credit, conservative MSPs were the only politicians to oppose censorious ‘stirring up hatred’ offences at every turn. They listened to the warnings of lawyers, academics, journalists, and campaigners about the potential these vague provisions had to undermine free expression.Continue reading “Tory online safety plans risk same mistakes as SNP Hate Crime Bill”