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.