J.K. Rowling, transgender issues, hate speech, and a setback for Scottish enlightenment

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Many nations honor their most successful writers.

My country is fortunate to have one widely admired around the globe — the genius behind the enchanting world of Harry Potter.  

However, our modern-day Queen of Scots faces potential imprisonment in the near future.  

The implementation of our “hate speech” law began on Monday, creating a new offense of “stirring up hatred” against protected categories, including those based on transgender identity and sexual orientation. 

Naturally, nobody enjoys being hated.

Yet, the law is ambiguous and expansive, lacking clear guidelines on what could be deemed “hateful” language by the government.

Could it become unlawful to state facts about women’s biological reality?

Could standing up for traditional marriage between a man and a woman be considered a crime?

It remains uncertain depending on the circumstances. 

This legislation was introduced in 2020, prompting me to write my first-ever opinion piece.

I cautioned that J.K. Rowling could face imprisonment for expressing her beliefs on social media under the future law — one of the strictest crackdowns on free speech in the Western world, making it risky to even discuss biological reality with your children at home.

Speaking freely could potentially result in a seven-year prison sentence.

Humza Yousaf — the justice minister and architect of the censorial bill — contradicted this.

In a subsequent interview, he adamantly stated that Rowling would not be punished for her public “gender critical” tweets.   

The bill was eventually passed.

Police Scotland urged the government to postpone the enforcement of the law.

There was a significant surge in “hate” reports, with many originating from online interactions.

The authorities needed time for “training, guidance, and communication planning,” they stated.  

And so we waited. For three years. 

That’s right — officials had over 1,000 days to address the legitimate concerns raised during the bill’s passage through Parliament.

Why was there such ambiguity regarding which words or opinions crossed the line into “hate speech”?

Why is “transgender identity” a protected category while “female” is not? 

Could using the “wrong” pronoun be considered hateful?

Could children really report their parents for their remarks made in their own homes? 

Nevertheless, here we are. The legislation took effect on Monday — and it’s no April Fools’ prank.

We are still unsure how to have meaningful conversations about significant social issues without risking legal repercussions.

The top advice from Police Scotland is to be cautious of the “Hate Monster” — a simplistic campaign singling out young white working-class men as potential offenders, cautioning them against expressing anger and inadvertently committing a hate crime. 

We were informed that every reported hate crime would be investigated, coinciding with the announcement that 24,000 minor offenses would no longer be prosecuted.

In Scotland, it seems that offending someone’s feelings may now carry a greater risk of punishment than stealing their belongings.

The government is targeting those who express opinions it disapproves of.

And that initial assurance from Humza Yousaf that Rowling would not be penalized for her gender-critical beliefs? 

Seems highly questionable.

Twitter is flooded with activists ready to report her views on biological reality to the authorities.

The phenomenon of the Scottish witch hunt is an age-old story.

In the past, it was simpler to silence troublesome women by accusing them of being “witches.”

Today, they are labeled as “hate monsters” who must be imprisoned if their beliefs do not align with the prevailing narrative.  

It’s evident that Yousaf did not contemplate the repercussions of similar hate-speech laws around the world before making his declaration.

In Finland, a grandmother and parliamentarian faced criminal charges for a tweet quoting a Bible verse questioning her church’s support of a pride event. Her case is now in the Supreme Court.

In Mexico, politicians from different parties were convicted of “gender-based political violence” for expressing their opinions on gender and pronouns on Twitter, landing them on a list of offenders.

There is nothing stopping our hate-crime law from following suit. 

Although it may be April 1st, J.K. Rowling does not tolerate foolishness.

She has dared Police Scotland to arrest her for proclaiming that a woman is an adult human female and challenging those who suggest otherwise.

While she may be at risk, she has exhibited resilience in standing by her convictions.

Will ordinary citizens without wealth or influence be able to withstand the pressure?

Or will they remain silent to avoid trouble?  

It is indeed a grim day for a country once renowned for its freedom, culture, humor, and intellectual enlightenment. 

Only time will reveal how swiftly we will descend into a “monster hunt.”

Lois McLatchie Miller is a Scottish advocate for freedom of speech with Alliance Defending Freedom UK.

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