04/04/2024 2 articles lewrockwell.com  5 min 🇬🇧 #246142

'#arrestme': Jk Rowling Dares Scotland to Enforce Anti-Free Speech Law

By Jonathan Turley

April 4, 2024

We have  previously discussed the growing anti-free speech movement in Scotland with the expanding criminalization of political and religious speech. The new Scottish law is a perfect nightmare for free speech, expanding the potential of a jail sentence for merely insulting language. In response, author JK Rowling has taken a stand and dared the Scottish police to come and arrest her for criticizing transgender status.

The  Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 illustrates how these laws create a slippery slope of speech criminalization as more and more speech is banned. We  previously discussed the law when it was first introduced.

The new crime covers "stirring up hatred" relating to age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or being intersex. That crime covers insulting comments and anything reasonably "that a reasonable person would consider to be threatening or abusive."

It is enough that a person is found to have likely understood that the comments would be abusive or insulting as opposed to intending to be abusive or insulting.

For that ill-defined crime, you can be sent to jail for seven years. Police officers are currently being given a two-hour training program to enforcing the law.

Rowling has been the target of a  global campaign due to her rejection of transgender laws and policies. Many on the left have unleashed  book bans and burnings. I have been critical of that campaign. Even third parties who have supported Rowling's right to free speech have been  targeted in cancel campaigns.

On April 1, Rowling posted a reference to various trans campaigners and other individuals as women. She then ended the thread with "April Fools! Only kidding. Obviously, the people mentioned in the above tweets aren't women at all, but men, every last one of them."

She stated "Freedom of speech and belief are at an end in Scotland if the accurate description of biological sex is deemed criminal."

Even if meant as a joke, Scottish censorship laws have never been  a laughing matter with comedians raising objections.

That could clearly fall within the law. The law is so broad that it allows arbitrary enforcement. To that end, Rowling made it plain:

"I'm currently out of the country, but if what I've written here qualifies as an offence under the terms of the new act, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment.#arrestme."

The law is a disgrace, but hardly new. Free speech has been in a free fall in the United Kingdom as well as other Western countries. I discuss this trend in my new book,  The Indispensable Right: Free Speech in an Age of Rage.

The decline of free speech in the United Kingdom has long been a concern for free speech advocates. A man was  convicted for sending a tweet while drunk referring to dead soldiers. Another was arrested for an  anti-police t-shirt. Another was arrested for  calling the Irish boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend a "leprechaun." Yet another was arrested for  singing "Kung Fu Fighting." A teenager was arrested for  protesting outside of a Scientology center with a sign calling the religion a "cult."

We also  discussed the arrest of a woman who was praying to herself near an abortion clinic. English courts have seen  criminalized "toxic ideologies" as part of this crackdown on free speech.

Scotland has now pulled ahead in the race to the bottom of speech criminalization. The home of David Hume and Adam Smith is now imposing laws as stringent as those founds in Iran, Russia, and China. It is a shocking denial of a right that once defined Western Civilization. Hume once spoke from those shores to denounce those who wanted to use Natural Law to silence others.

Hume objected that morality was used to cut off opposing views, noting "I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not."

Now it is the left that is silencing others. Equity has become the new morality used to gag others. Scotland should be a warning to everyone in the United States as we face our own anti-free speech movement. This is the rock bottom of the slippery slope of speech censorship.

Reprinted with permission from  JonathanTurley.org.