Tuesday, 13 December 2011

It Shouldn't Happen But It Will

It shouldn't happen but it will, because the SNP Scottish Government has a majority and they will ensure all their MSPs attend the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, when the final version of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill will be passed into law.

No blogger has illuminated the flaws in this Bill more than this one. Not only has he highlighted the practical elements of the Bill but he has shown how politicians misuse reports/polls/questionnaires to accommodate their objectives.

I hoped, some time ago, that the Scottish Government would avoid a knee-jerk reaction to Scotland's sectarian problem but my hopes are dashed.

The sectarian problem is much more prevalent in the west, yet those of us from the east know it hasn't grown from the sport of football. Sectarianism at football matches is the result not the source of the problem. Attitudes are indoctrinated when we are small children and for our legislators to ignore the religious divisions in formal schooling is unfortunate - to put it kindly.

If Scotland considers itself a tolerant secular country these days (when did Christianity die here?), why does government continue to support religious schools? Even 60 years later, I find I can recall our primary teacher explaining to us why our 'new' classmate couldn't attend Monday morning assembly. It was done tactfully I'm sure, but we were left in no doubt that Dorothy (yes, I remember her name because she became a good pal) should have enrolled at Lawside Academy - the RC equivalent of mine - but there was no space. Her home address was in the catchment area of my school and thus she was thrust into our midst at the tender age of eight or so.

I can't remember our school minister partaking to any degree in assemblies other than to offer a brief prayer at the end, but this was enough for her own religion's leaders to insist she didn't attend.  She was excluded, banned, prohibited - whatever you want to call it - and this action ensured she was 'different'.  Poor Dorothy* had to sit alone in her first Monday class until we all trundled along from the weekly pep talk.  She was eight years old, for goodness sake and adults inflicted this upon her.  To this day I still feel for her and the humiliation she tolerated in her first year at a new school, just because her parents had made the decision to bring her up in the Roman Catholic faith. No child I knew teased her and I think we all went out of our way to avoid mentioning the issue.

But if such a situation had occurred in a west coast school, in all probability it would have been very different, because I've heard of young children, in a similar position, being tormented by their peers. The west of Scotland differs greatly in its religious attitudes and that stems from both home and school and backed by tough religious representatives whose vocation is to ensure that no child is 'afflicted' by other perspectives.

The Scottish government can legislate as often as it likes, but until we have religion removed from schools and left to the care of churches outwith school hours, then sectarianism will continue. The churches complain their numbers have been falling rapidly. Here's their chance to recruit more attendees.

*Dorothy's situation lasted a year or so. She was found to have an excellent musical ear and was encouraged to learn an instrument. (All Dundee children were given that opportunity in those days). Her choice was the flute and she became a talented flautist. As part of our duties as little budding musicians we had to play in the school orchestra each Monday morning assembly. The head of the music department insisted Dorothy participated and that was the start of a friendship which lasted until I left the school. Not many teachers would have stood up to those who insisted a prayer, delivered by an emissary of another religion, took precedence over a child's development.


JRB said...

With regret, I must concede that on this occasion the Scottish government has got things badly wrong.

They have fallen into the trap of legislating first before thinking the problem through, simply because they feel they have to be seen doing something. All they are doing is sticking a plaster over the symptoms, whilst failing to address the underlying problem.
This only results in bad legislation, and bad legislation merely serves to bring the law, which society should respect, into disrepute; and at the same time antagonises the public against the police who have to enforce such bad laws.

I totally agree with you that the seeds of sectarianism are sown, not in the football terraces, but into our children the day they enter their separate primary schools.
Until our children are educated together, irrespective of their families chosen religion, sectarianism, bigotry, and intolerance will remain rife within our society.

- the solution is obvious; but I fear our politicians do not have the courage or strength of character to address the problem.

hector said...

i wish it was as easy non denominational schools.for example there are religious schools in glasgow and dundee.as far as i am aware little in the way of bigotry in dundee.

subrosa said...

JRB, the laws are all ready in place to deal with those causing serious offence. It's rather like the forthcoming alcohol legislation - why doesn't the government insist police use the adequate current legislation?

It's all to do with votes of course and nothing to do with making Scotland a fair and tolerant country.

When you read Lallands precise analysis, this is a 'fear' law and not one of 'protection'. I can see many cases coming to court just because one person was 'offended'. I really don't want to live in a country which has laws which promote fear rather than safety.

subrosa said...

That's true hector and I think one of the reasons is that the likes of Dundee doesn't have the same amount of Irish ancestry. However, I still believe that all schools should be inter-denominational and religion left to families not schools.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"why does government continue to support religious schools?"

You hit the nail on the head here. It's insane to segregate children at the age of four/five, and then be surprised when trouble erupts fifteen years later.

If they address the cause, the symptoms will fade away eventually.

If they only address the symptoms, however draconian the measures, they will not solve the problem.

Is Salmond afraid of the Catholic church?

If not that, what is he waiting for?

English Pensioner said...

When I was at school, the only pupils out of about 600 who didn't attend morning assembly were a few Jewish boys. The rest of us were a mixture of Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Baptist, and I clearly remember, a Swiss boy who was a Lutheran! We regularly had clergy from the different denominations who gave a homily and a prayer acceptable to all.
Can't imagine that in London now, apart from the ethnic minorities, even the atheists are demanding special treatment. Regrettably things seem to be getting worse.

subrosa said...

I think the answer is votes WY.

subrosa said...

Part of the problem in my youth EP, was the Catholic church's refusal to permit any of their 'flock' to attend a service given by another religion's representative. Dundee was strongly presbyterian then and I'm sure there were those, with whom I went to school, of other religions but it was never made common knowledge.

However, faith schools do have a reputation for high standards in some areas of UK. That's another issue of course.

pa_broon74 said...

This is a side of the SNP I don't particularly like if I'm being honest, knee jerk legislation pandering to headlines in the red tops.

Sectarianism needs to be tackled and on the one hand I admit at least the SG are doing something, whether its the right thing; I don't really know.

On faith schools; totally agree, faith is a personal thing so should be kept to the home or place of worship, it has no place in a modern school. I think however, with the latest rammy between the SG and the RCC on SSM (did you get them both?) is a no go at this time. In this area the SNP are between a rock and a hard place; they would be savaged by the press if they tried to tackle faith schools.

I think its a wee bit unfair to demand that they do at this time.

Other than that, sectarianism starts in the home, is reinforced by faith schools, football teams and religious 'clubs' that exist.

No idea how to tackle that, on the upside, religion is on the slide generally so it'll fade naturally with time. At football games, I'm always aware that while there are those who wave their flags and sing their daft songs, there must also be those with seemingly delicate sensibilities in this area only who are quick to take offence.

And, as always we a media ready to furnish the chatterati with a wagon to jump on.

Hamish said...

Excellent article SR and good responses.
Weekend Yachtsman has expressed my view better than I could.

You will never solve the problem of prejudice by legislating against it. Prejudice is just that. It means prejudging people before you have even met them.
Separate schools and separate enclosures for football fans can only reinforce that kind of prejudice.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX The sectarian problem is much more prevalent in the west,XX

Where are you drawing the borders?

I found places like Bathgate, Broxburn, West and East Calder, Blackburn, Armadale and Livinston to be just as bad as Glasgow.

But I suspect that has to do with the fact that when they knocked down the tenemants in Glasgow, the people were moved Eastward to West Lothian.

hector said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hector said...

re possible less bigotry in dundee.a possible explnation i have heard is that the irish who came to dundee were in the main from the south of ireland and in glasgow both from the n.i. and the south.

Observer said...

Very sad to see the SNP making such a hideous mistake, especially when there have been faultless arguments made against this Draconian measure, not least by Lallands Peat Worrier, who is a complete star.

Don't really agree that sectarianism starts in schools SR. Basically everyone here in Glasgow has been to either a RC school or a non denominational aschool, but most people here are not sectarian. It's learned behaviour & it comes from the home. If you have a wee bigot child, on either side of the division, then the fault lies with the parents.

subrosa said...

One thing they could have done, which would have been much more acceptable to me anyway pa_broon, is to ensure the present law is enacted. We have legislation already to cover this but it's seldom used.

It's only unfair because politicians know they'll lose votes if they touch it. Perhaps we should wait until independence though. :)

Although the Christian religion is currently not de rigeur, I'm sure it will come back in fashion. Perhaps not in the way we remember ie twice to church on Sundays, but it will reinvent itself. If the churches got a grip it could happen sooner than later.

subrosa said...

Well said Hamish and I can see the courts full of those who have been accused by the Indignent. "I didn't like what he/she/they said" will be enough to get you involved with the polis.

subrosa said...

Usually I draw the border north of the Tay Furor. The places you mention are in the central belt not the east, but I think you're right about the Glasgow overspill moving eastwards.

Maybe it's just us more northern easteners can't so religious, although I know my grandparents were. That was a long time ago now though.

subrosa said...

Hector, that could well be the reason. I know my Dad's best friend was Catholic when I was little. The two of them would likely be in court if they were around today. The humorous jibes about their religions were part of their communication 'system'.

Anonymous said...

A lot of Irish were brought over by the Catholic jute barons and placed in Dundee. Lochee was hoatching with them, indeed there was a place in Lochee...houses rather like the ones described in Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers" (The Backs I think they were in the book), and in Lochee they were called Tipperary. There was one Protestant and other primary school and 2 Catholic ones.

Some of the mills would only employ Catholics, and so D C Thomson decided to only employ Protestants.

When I was at Ancrum Road School a typical sport (which I never joined in with) was to go fight the "Mary's" (St Mary's).

Even at that age I could see no point in religion, but no reason to engage in violence about it.

Yet it has been the cause of enough strife in the world. And still today, I read blogs dripping with thinly veiled hatred for Muslims, or for Jews. It makes me sick.

subrosa said...

Apologies if I gave the impression it starts in schools Observer. What I wanted to convey was that it started at home and was sometimes compounded by children being in separate schools.

I don't doubt that most people aren't sectarian but unfortunately the government thinks there are too many.

If a wee bigoted child was in a non-denominational school then his or her attitude would be dealt with much more easily.

Aye, Lallands has tried desperately hard to put some common sense into this latest legislation. He deserves so much credit.

subrosa said...

Yes of course Tris, I forgot about Lochee but there was seldom sectarian trouble there - not that I remember. They folks there were always thought of as hard workers. Two of my grandad's employees lived there and I remember one of the wives was the bestest baker in the world. :)

Auch, there was always competition between schools. For some reason Morgan pupils used to always want to better Harris ones. Grove, the High and Lawside weren't mentioned. But that was nearly 60 years ago...

But should we be introducing this legislation when, as Lallands and others argue there are already laws in place to deal with it ?

RMcGeddon said...

The SNP's new Bill will be defeated in the ECHR. It is against 2 conventions of the ECHR according to someone on Newsnight North Britain. The SNP guy on Newsnicht was hopeless and couldn't say what songs would be banned. Surely 'Flower of Scotland' will have to be banned ? Sending the English homewards tae think again etc.
Yes. Like the minimum pricing laws it will be banned by the ECHR.
I hated religion from age 5 when my best pal had to go to the cathie skail and I had to go to the proddie skail.
Religion has no place in schools and should be kept well away as it breeds hatred from age 5.

Gedguy said...

I was brought up as a Roman Catholic in Kirkton, Dundee [which is why I am an atheist] and I have memories of the anti-catholic activities that happened then.
Every year, on St. Andrew's day, there was rivalry between the Catholic school children and the non catholic school in Kirkton. The idea was to see who can command the 'hillock' opposite the catholic church. The attacks would take place after school and last until it was time for our 'tea'. The 'battles' would entail the two sides swapping 'dockies' with each other and anything else that was handy to throw at the opposition. Most of the time we 'catholics' lost because we were only a primary school and 'they' had two primaries schools and a secondary school to draw upon. One year [I think I was nine years old] I was 'bottled' on the head and with blood streaming from the cut I was treated by the priest at 'our' church who castigated our stupidity for fighting but asked me if we were winning. Hmm. Strangely, the next day the lads that we were fighting were the same lads that we would play with all forms of bigotry then forgotten.
Not so when we left school as being Catholics, trying to get a job in Dundee was not so easy. The old question of which school you attended was a dead give-away and, depending on the manager's like/dislike of Catholics depended on whether you got the job or not. Remember the lack of Catholics who were employed by DC Thompson's in the 1930s?
As to the person above who thinks there were not a lot of Irish immigrants to Dundee I need only mention Lochee.

Dioclese said...

It is ridiculous to believe that by making bigotry illegal it will have any effect on what people actually think.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

@pa_broon74: "they would be savaged by the press if they tried to tackle faith schools."

I don't see why.

They would simply have to say that partisan religion has no place in schools supported by the state. All religious symbolism, practice, services, chants, or whatever it is they do will cease forthwith, all schools will take everyone from their catchment area regardless, priests of whatever sort are not welcome. Graven images, icons, etc to be removed before the start of next term. End of.

If you want all that stuff, do it at home or in your church, or start your own school and pay for it yourself.

Why would the press go mad? It's equal treatment for all. The US can manage this in public schools, why cannot we?

subrosa said...

I haven't seen Newnicht yet RM but will watch it when my new heater arrives for my tv room.

Who will take it to the ECHR?

subrosa said...

I was the one who said there were fewer Irish in Dundee that Glasgow (pro rata) Gedguy, but Tris reminded me of Lochee.

Yes I remember when DC Thomson refused to give Catholics jobs. It was something which really annoyed my grandmother. (The editor of the Tele lodged with her and she nagged him about it repeatedly). She wasn't Catholic btw.

That's a dreadful story Gedguy. Surely the heads of each school knew what was going on?

Yes, of course the name of a school gave others your religion in most cases. Hence every child should be in a school which is non-denominational.

subrosa said...

It's legislation which could be abused easily Dioclese.

subrosa said...

Well said WY,but it's all about votes. It would be seen, by the schools using a 'religion' banner, as an attack on their religion.

Gedguy said...


"Hence every child should be in a school which is non-denominational."

You won't get me disagreeing with that. It has always confused me why people, who believe in the same God, [Jews, Christians & Muslims] want to kill each other because they believe that their interpretation is the correct one and everyone should listen to them because they are the only ones who have direct access to the 'word' of God. Stupid people!

Gedguy said...

Getting back to the thrust of the article. I would have to disagree with you Subrosa in that this legislation is not the end of the matter but it is just one of the tools that the Scottish government is hoping to use to rid our society from this puerile bigotry.
I remember talking to a fellow Dundee United supporter in London and was astonished to hear him saying that Dundee United was a Protestant club because it wore an orange shirt. I pointed out to him that it was originally a catholic club called Dundee Hibernian and that jerry Kerr happened to like a the strip that an American club [I forget which one] wore that strip and he decided to change it to TANGERINE and black. I wonder if he continued to support the club after that? We need to squeeze this corruption out of the game.

subrosa said...

I don't mind disagreement Gedguy but I feel that when this is past today politicians will think they've 'done their bit'. Their bit in this instance is poor legislation.

Having been a DU supporter most of my life, I've never heard religion mentioned at any matches. Mind you I haven't been to many in the past 15 years, so I'll ask some fans I know if they've heard any mention.

Dundee football clubs don't have the same problems though.

Will have a chat with some youngsters I'm seeing next week and she what they say. Should be interesting.

William said...

Gedguy, Christians and Muslims do not believe in the same God. Christians believe in the Trinity. Muslims do not.

The lack of definition is what concerns me. I've just heard John Finnie on Nicky Campbell's show refuse to state specifically which songs/chants were banned at football grounds. He said that the police would decide. Well, that's not how the law has worked in the country. The police don't get to decide the laws, they merely uphold them.

It's difficult not to consider the law a gross over-reaction and completely unnecessary.

RMcGeddon said...

SR. Just remembered. The discussion was actually on 'Scotland Tonight' on STV. I've started watching that now as it gives a fairer discussion. The host said that someone was claiming it broke 2 human rights rules. Can't remember which politician he mentioned. It might be on stvplayer.
Newsnight was the usual format. Pre recorded interview with the SNP then live interview with a unionist who was given free rein to bash the SNP. Michael Moore just kept talking and stopped the interviewer from asking any questions. Usual stuff.

subrosa said...

I heard him on radio Scotland this morning William and he was floundering then too.

You're right of course. It's not for the police to assume a law fits, it's for politicians to ensure laws are clearly defined.

A poor reactive policy unfortunately.

subrosa said...

Thanks RM. I'll see if I can watch it right now on STV iPlayer - if there is such a thing. :)

Gedguy said...


I'm sorry to burst your 'trinity' bubble but the Christians are just radical Jews who believe that the 'Messiah' has already come. Even the Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet and they believe that Abraham was a prophet too.
The 'Trinity' was just a way to placate the Roman/Byzantium pagans. I didn't know that anyone believes that the Christian God [of which many parts of the Diverse Christian religion do not believe in the 'Trinity', but are still Christians.] is different from the other two great [in size] religions. They all believe in the one God and those Gods are one and the same. I thought everyone knew this.

Gedguy said...


"Having been a DU supporter most of my life"

I wondered why I liked you ;-)

William said...

Gedguy, I'm afraid you're still wrong. Muslims do not believe in the deity of Christ, as Christians do. Christians do not believe Jesus was a prophet. They believe he was God made flesh. Muslims do not believe their god has ever done this. It is not the same god.

There are substantial differences between the Bible and the Koran over the nature of God, the concept of God, the actions of God, His relationship with man and our salvation, etc.

It may be handy, for you, as a shorthand to say 'they all believe the same God' but it's still not true.

Gedguy said...


Oh Dear. Jesus was the SON of God and, therefore, became a part of God. Are you saying that the Christians believe in three different Gods? Not all Christians believe that Jesus should be worshipped as a Deity.

"And God spoke all these words, saying: 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:1-3)

God didn't say "US" he said "ME". Singular, which means one God.

The bible is not meant to be taken only on the words written. Unless, of course, you believe everything the Bible tells you.

William said...

You might well say 'oh dear', Gedguy.

God is the Father (John 6:27)
God is the Son (John 1:14)
God is the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4)

'Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' - Matthew 28:19

This is not the Muslim belief. They do not recognise the triune God.

This is not polytheism. There is only one God.

As Jesus is God there is no issue of a separate worship of him as a deity. This was established in the Nicene Creed 1700 years ago to which all Christians subscribe.

RMcGeddon said...


"The bible is not meant to be taken only on the words written. Unless, of course, you believe everything the Bible tells you."

No the Christians seem to pick and choose Ged. They seem to mostly agree that gay marriage is bad and shouldn't be legal but they don't seem to agree with the part that says homosexuality is an abonimation. It's a bit of a pick and mix which explains why there are gay vicars and anti gay vicars etc. All mind boggling for an atheist like myself.
I mean there are Christians who believe in evolution which I would have thought was incompatible with the bible. Evolution of life over billions of years via trial and error as opposed to the bible that explains how life all happened over 6 days. It's all down to interpretation apparently.

Gedguy said...

"This was established in the Nicene Creed 1700 years ago to which all Christians subscribe"

Prove that ALL Christians subscribe to the trinity because not all believe in that, but it is as I mentioned before:

"they believe that their interpretation is the correct one and everyone should listen to them because they are the only ones who have direct access to the 'word' of God"

I think you stop believing everything that book says and look at it from an historical point of view.

Gedguy said...


I believe, in the old days, that a lot of the upper/middle class children were deliberately 'thrown' into the church to get rid of them. Ironic really.

William said...

If someone does not subscribe to the Nicene Creed, I'd wonder on basis they called themselves Christian as it pretty much covers the beliefs I would consider essential to being a Christian.

Now, whether someone chooses to accept the Trinity or not, that is what the Bible teaches.

As I say, it's very different from Islam and Christians are cursed in the Koran for this belief.

Gedguy said...


You have fallen into your own trap here. You say, and I agree with you, that the Nicene Creed initiated the New Testament as we now know it today. However, this would lead one to the conclusion that there were followers of Jesus before that Creed was formalised. It was at this meeting of the 'bishops' that Jesus's divinity was voted on; prior to this Jesus was NOT classified as divine by the majority of his supporters.
Therefore the 'Trinity', and a lot of other passages in the New Testament, is a fudge by the then bishops to try to bring some form of order into the myriad of supporters of the prophet Jesus.
The 'Bible' is not the word of God because it was written by a committee under the auspices of the Byzantium Emperor Constantine the Great and his Christian mother, Helena.
Don't take my word for this, check it out yourself.
Having read the Koran and the Bible [as well as other religious books] I ask you to give me the section of the Koran which backs up your point that Christians were 'cursed'. RSVP

William said...

Ged, you make a common mistake. You assume that those prior to the Creed believed something entirely different. There really is no evidence to suggest that Christians pre-Creed were operating a different belief system and were somehow forced into accepting this new Creed. The Creed was simply an attempt to formalise already generally accepted beliefs amongst Christians.


"Christians call Christ the son of Allah. ....Allah's curse be on them"

Gedguy said...

I took that in the same context that the Bible states that there shall be no false Gods before me.

Deuteronomy 5:7 "You shall have no other gods before me."

Looks like God wouldn't like the idea that his 'son' was made a God.

"you make a common mistake"

The Arian concept of Christ is that the Son of God did not always exist, but was created by—and is therefore distinct from—God the Father. This belief is grounded in the Gospel of John passage “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." (verse 14:28)

The point I'm trying to put over here is that you can find anything you want, in the Bible, to back up anything you want to believe and just ignore the rest. The book, the Bible, needs to be taken in its entirety and within the historical context in which it was written. This may not be the best place to continue this discussion and, if you want to, I would be happy to discuss this with you on another forum of your choice.

William said...

Ged, ask yourself why Jesus accepted worship and the disciples didn't if they didn't already believe in the deity of Christ? Peter rejects worship of himself in Acts pointing out that he's just a man. Yet Peter worshipped Jesus so what does that tell us? Peter believed Jesus was God and called him so. Thomas also called him 'my Lord and my God'. These were serious Jews, these people. Why would they say this? They knew the ramifications of what they were saying. Jesus supported Scripture which includes the Commandment not to have any other gods so why did he accept worship of himself and claim that he existed before Abraham?

I agree that SR has been generous in allowing these comments to remain. I've enjoyed your contributions but perhaps we're reaching an impasse.

Gedguy said...


We were at an impasse the moment we started to post to each other. You are a believer and I a God fearing atheist ;-).
The problem (?) with your previous post is that you believe everything that is written in this book as the word of God and cannot be interpreted any other way. I believe it to be a fascinating history book, which was why I read it. C'est la vie

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