“Is sectarianism a problem? Yes. Does it cripple Scotland? No.”

Alex Massie at Think Scotland, has doubts about how Scotland’s government is trying to tackle sectarianism. Not the least the ushering in of a new invasive form of ‘thought policing’…

It is right and proper and necessary that religiously-motivated discrimination be outlawed in the public realm but government lacks either the means or the right to criminalise private thoughts or prejudices. Even, perhaps especially, when those thoughts or prejudices are ugly or inconvenient. The government should not be in the business of peering into men’s souls. Nor those of women neither.

Of course there are bigots in Scotland and more of them than most of us would like. Nevertheless, the notion that sectarianism is a blight on the country as a whole – rather than upon some unfortunate communities – is a fiction unsupported by evidence and no number of government advisors or special commissions will change that.

This is good news just as much as the endless exhortation to be ashamed by the darker recesses of your compatriots’ bigotry is bad news. Most Scots bear no responsibility for the bigotry of a minority of our compatriots and could do without being lectured by our elected representatives for the prevalence of feelings we do not actually even hold. Is sectarianism a problem? Yes. Does it cripple Scotland? No. [Emphasis added]

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty