Scotland must deal severely with sectarianism, racism, Islamophobia and anti-semitism.
“Those tempted to act in a sectarian way must understand society’s repugnance of and weariness of that kind of behaviour and must expect to be dealt with accordingly.”
Sheriff Andrew Cubie spoke for every decent person in Scotland when he imposed a ten-month prison sentence on 24-year-old Bradley Wallace for spitting on a priest as an Orange march went past a Catholic Church in Glasgow.
Religious discrimination is a blight on Scottish society that routinely astonishes visitors to this country, many of whom assume such hatreds were left behind in centuries-old religious wars.
There was nothing personal between Wallace and his victim, Canon Thomas White. Yet, as an angry mob hurled threats and insults during what Cubie described as a “grotesque spectacle in a 21st century, multi-cultural, inclusive Scotland”, Wallace carried out a “disgusting, cowardly and provocative” act designed to “humiliate and demean” White.
In an alternative universe, where we have rid ourselves of “Scotland’s shame”, perhaps these two men might have been friends. Alas, in this world, sectarianism proves to be most miserably persistent.
And we are fooling ourselves if we think this the only hatred that dare speak its name with two-thirds of all such crimes in Scotland based on racism.
New figures released by Police Scotland – likely to be a fraction of the actual number – showed there were 6,736 hate crimes in Scotland in 2017/18. That’s an average of more than 18 every single day of the year.
As The Scotsman has noted before, there is a growing tendency to view human beings not as individuals, but as members of one group or another, to be loved or loathed on that basis alone.
This lazy, stupid and immoral way of thinking must be resisted at all costs to prevent society from descending into anything like the madness that engulfed Germany in the 1930s.
So Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf should be backed to the hilt when he says all forms of prejudice must be “stamped out”.
Because, right now, this country is in danger of allowing what Yousaf described as “a culture of acceptance”.
If they are to be eradicated, sectarianism, Islamophobia, anti-semitism, any kind of racism, must be dealt with severely.
A ten-month sentence for spitting will hopefully focus the minds of anyone tempted to waste their life on such pathetic, petty hatreds.