Scotland To Ban Comedy?

Free speech north of the border has become a hot topic. Humza Yousaf's “hate crime” bill will apparently target actors and comedians. So, no, I guess I’m not doing Edinburgh this year.

This is according to leaked training information from Police Scotland. They’re being taught how to apply this new law, which comes in on April 1st, which seems fitting.

The leak says the police will be allowed to arrest and charge performers if they are reported to police for communicating 'threatening or abusive material.'

Because we live in a time when people will definitely complain to the police if there’s something they don’t like, this law will get used. The problem always starts when you have to define what is threatening. If you leave it to the person who feels threatened to define it there will be no limit to what will be criminalised. Some people are terrified of clowns, so they’d be in jail for sure.

As someone who chose to make comedy their career, I have picked a side. It’s comedy. The clue is in the title. You should be allowed to say things you wouldn’t normally say. Push a boundary. Satirise. Lampoon. If you say something that is offensive, the market forces should mean you don’t sell tickets. But arresting comedians feels like it’s crossing a line.

The new offence is called "stirring up hatred". It sounds like it’s up there with the offence of putting the cat among the pigeons, and the lesser crime of letting it out of the bag.

I’m not the only performer who is worried about the restrictions this could bring in. Someone else who has voiced concern is the well-known right-wing fire-brand hate peddler… Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson.

Is he really a hate stirrer in Scotland? Then again, he also plays Johnny English which might be done to wind them up.

» Read the source story

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