The Eye Of The Beholder

Human rights in the English speaking world owe their origin to a document enforced on King John of England in 1215 by the English barons, the Magna Carta Libertatum. Subsequent to the Magna Carta we have understood
human rights to be the restriction of the king’s power thus enabling the people to
expand their freedoms such as freedom of speech.

Human rights were grounded in restrictions which the people placed upon the king. Today progressive human rights in the West are grounded in restrictions the government places upon the people.

We see this when we come to the new right not to be offended. This Orwellian concept replaces human rights with group rights. We have the realisation of the Orwellian prophecy of the day when “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” If you belong to a group which is privileged the state will accord you rights it refuses to others.

A few months ago Simon Ledger was singing oldies in a bar. Amongst the numbers he sang was “Kung Fu Fighing.” Those old enough to remember disco may now blush. Bad enough one would suppose and an occasion for cotton wool in the ears, but unfortunately two passers by, not even patrons of the bar, heard him singing, they were Chinese. One was offended enough to report Ledger to the police, he was arrested for racism.

If you were to sing Kung Fu Fighting to me I would have to thole it, perhaps with an ill grace but I would just have to take your assault on taste and culture, I couldn’t report you to the police and have you arrested no matter how much I thought you deserved it. I don’t belong to a favoured minority or identity group. A joke or a song has become a possible criminal action according to whom you perform it before and whether or not they choose to find it offensive.

When individual justice is replaced by social justice we lose the concept of universal human rights and find them replaced by group rights.

The Scottish Parliament has before it the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill, which could make certain jokes, songs or actions illegal in certain circumstances. If Roseanna Cunningham, minister for Community Safety has her way if a Roman Catholic were to make the sign of the cross in front of a bunch of rampaging Rangers supporters he would possibly be committing an offence. If a Rangers supporter were to sing Rule Britania in front of a group of Celtic supporters that could be considered an illegal act. It all depends on how the ‘victims’ choose to react.

Frank Mulholland the Lord Advocate tried to clear up Roseanna’s bumbling explanation of the proposed legislation by saying that making the sign of the cross or singing the national anthem would not be criminal offences. Obviously, but listen to the rider, “Unless there are aggravating circumstances.”

Any song adopted by the opposing supporters could be deemed provocative if the criteria of judgement is offence perceived by the purported ‘victim,’ or even the possibility of offence as judged by a police officer. From my experience of Scottish football the fans are creative if nothing else in the songs they sing. What if Rangers fans sing new words to the tune of The Sash would that be offensive? If a Celtic fan offers up a silent prayer before a penalty at Ibrox would that be offensive?

The bill refers to “behaviour that a reasonable person would be likely to consider offensive”. But the very person who chooses to find the sign of the cross or the singing of a song offensive and requiring a violent response is not a reasonable person. He, and it is almost invariably a he, is an emotionally charged irreligious bigot ready to take offence at the mere existence of the opposition.

The Scottish Parliament is being asked to abrogate the human right of freedom of speech in the name of groups rights not to be offended. This would destroy a foundational principle of justice, equality before the law.

Our ideas of justice derive from Scripture. There we learn that we are created individually and as responsible individuals we stand before God. The rights we have as His children are individual rights.


One thought on “The Eye Of The Beholder

  1. An nicely incisive piece of good, common sense on this highly vexed issue. Recently a street preacher in Glasgow city centre was arrested after having been pressed by a group of homosexuals about what the Bible said about that topic. Even though he put it far more mildly than Scripture itself actually does about such behaviour. Nevertheless the Glasgow police decided to throw him in the cells and charge him with being ‘offensive’. Subsequently he pleaded guilty though advised by the Christian Institute not to and the Sheriff in her ‘wisdom’ declaimed against such an ‘outrage’ and fined him a whacking £3,000 or more. Now we know exactly whose side the State is on.
    So far as ‘sectarian’ football violence is concerned I remain singularly unconvinced that the root of the problem lies in some peculiarly West of Scotland cultural religious division. Of course there is no denying the problem is there: when decent young fellows can get casually and savagely knifed to death in the street simply for wearing the ‘wrong’ colours, we know there is a grave source of trouble here. However, do the authorities honestly imagine that if they erased all traces of ‘sectarianism’ tomorrow that’d end football violence? Naive they are if they do. All we have to do is look at the violence that all too commonly attends and mars other football teams south of the border that cannot be put down to this source. No, the real root is simple fallen, cynical, frivilous human nature that holds life in contempt and treats it as cheaply. At heart it’s a spiritual one. And crime is crime, it doesn’t require redefining by humanistic ‘aggravations’. It does require proper penal sanctions- like maybe actually threatening callous murderers with the death penalty as Scripture plainly prescribes, instead of the State limply dealing with these offenders so that they laugh at the courts and a whole poisonous subculture of fear and intimidation is allowed to flourish in certain districts

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