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The First Step


D'Artagnan

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“It’s only the first step which is difficult” - Marquise Du Defend, letter to Defend, 1763

There have been some firsts in the last few weeks. The murder of 2 British soldiers in Northern Ireland saw former IRA terrorist Martin McGuiness condemn those responsible. The subsequent murder of a Policeman saw members of Sinn Fein attend as mourners at his funeral. Another first.

What was not a first however was the sight of members of the Celtic support mocking those deaths. Despite the condemnation from McGuiness it would appear that these scum still wish to revel and celebrate the murder of security forces in Northern Ireland. Despite the obvious attempt to usurp the Ulster peace process, which is believed to be the motivation behind these callous murders, sections of the Celtic support see fit to celebrate such atrocities.

These murders caused waves of revulsion amongst all communities in Northern Ireland, as well as the rest of the United Kingdom. All except one community. The community of Celtic supporters who hate all things British. It seems to matter not a jot to them that the Police officer murdered, Stephen Carroll, was in fact a Roman Catholic. This is beyond sectarianism, it is the kind of racism and hatred which gives support to ethnic cleansing.

This nest of vipers and their abhorrent conduct were the focus of a recent article in The Sun.

But really, for all of Scotland this is not news, we have lived and been subjected to their particular brand of hatred for our country, our people, our religion and our football club for decades. In another generation, many years ago that hatred existed and festered. Those of them, who didn’t join the yellow convoy, stayed to express their hatred of our country to the extent their football ground was shut down.

This hatred is both historical and current. Despite the blatant nature of such hatred, the recent focus of sectarianism in this country has focussed very much in the main, on our football club.

Whilst these pedlars of bigotry and racism were continuing with their songs of hatred, celebrating those who shoot young men in the back or Policemen protecting their communities, it seems the media, the politicians and the football authorities in Scotland were far more concerned about Rangers fans mocking such pedlars of hatred. Everyone in Scotland wanted to jump on the Famine Song condemnation bus, but not one in Scotland thought to provide a sense of balance to the debate as to why this song was being sung. Instead it took an MP from Northern Ireland to offer an explanation as to why this song was being sung, and to condemn those whose songs celebrated murder and racism.

Those who promised equality and parity, such as George Peat, when it came to dealing with offensive singing, have lied.

The media who have reported on such matters have consistently lied, fabricated, exaggerated and covered up when necessary.

Those who should be defending this football club and its supporters, our chairman and executives, have utterly and comprehensively failed, with a mixture of naivety, apathy and downright neglect.

But saddest of all, many of our own number have failed to defend this club, preferring to stick their heads in the sand in denial, or worst of all to accuse fellow Bears of “paranoia” when they have dared to protest at the madness which is upon us.

The vitriolic focus which has been directed against our club in the last few years has been characterised by a complete lack of balance, parity, accuracy and justice. Several individuals in particular have maximised anything negative about our club, and if there was a lack of anything negative to fabricate they have simply made it up.

A pepperami here...

An eggs Benedict there...

Grass cut to represent the Sash...

The Bouncy depicting a sectarian murder...

Ibrox resembling a Nuremberg Rally....

Rangers cultivating sectarianism...

And of course the list goes on.

And on. And on. And on. And on.

Chip...chip...chip...chip.... how many remember that post from a few years ago ?

And look how far things have degenerated further even since then.

And yet all the while whilst they have scraped around or invented tittle tattle stories about our club... a story about festering hatred has gone unreported...uncovered.

How much more of this are we going to take ? How long are we going to liars, bigots, charlatans and cowards besmirch our club and its support, to drag the name of Rangers through the gutter ?

Its time to do everything within our power to defend her.

It’s time to take that first step..... united as one.

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excellent post

but what can we do?

the scottish left wing media dont want to know

who can we turn to

Challenge every lie you read - write or email editors and demand answers. Dont be fobbed off keep at them until you know they are squirming.

Next time your local politician comes to your door - let him or her know your feelings - better still write to them expressing your concern at the lack of parity,

Keep on at George Peat - by letter or e mail.

Join a representative group of Rangers supporters.

Support those who are actively doing all they can to defend our club...

That should do for starters Ivy !

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excellent post

but what can we do?

the scottish left wing media dont want to know

who can we turn to

agree with all the comments the difference in the 2 clubs is a well oiled propaganda machine against a sit on your arse club whose chairman only says anything when he himself is the subject of personal abuse

reid and liewell are quick of the mark when there fans are questionied i.e famine song is no different to some of ther there own"folk songs" minutes silence being abused the fixture congestion last year the swift cancellation of the old firm game last year when phil o,donnell died he last played for celtic years ago so why cancel there game when dundee utd who played motherwell on the day phil died were made play a few days later yet celtic who had mcgeady suspended and were then able to buy robson and hinkel manipulated the death to get the game played when they were stronger they are years ahead of our board in situations like that i could go on but until our chairman and chief executive remove there mute buttons this will continue

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excellent post

but what can we do?

the scottish left wing media dont want to know

who can we turn to

Challenge every lie you read - write or email editors and demand answers. Dont be fobbed off keep at them until you know they are squirming.

Next time your local politician comes to your door - let him or her know your feelings - better still write to them expressing your concern at the lack of parity,

Keep on at George Peat - by letter or e mail.

Join a representative group of Rangers supporters.

Support those who are actively doing all they can to defend our club...

That should do for starters Ivy !

i bow to your advice

will take it on board

no surrender

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“It’s only the first step which is difficult” - Marquise Du Defend, letter to Defend, 1763

How much more of this are we going to take ? How long are we going to liars, bigots, charlatans and cowards besmirch our club and its support, to drag the name of Rangers through the gutter ?

Its time to do everything within our power to defend her.

It’s time to take that first step..... united as one.

D'Art - a legal case to challenge the banning of TBB would be an excellent start. If the words deemed to be antagonistic are dropped, then on what grounds are we no longer allowed to sing our iconic anthem?

Start a fund to fight for our right to sing a song that can offend no one - I've got a tenner I can paypal into the fund right away - 1,000 bears supporting that fund would provide the cash.

Could Donald Findlay be hired? It's difficult to imagine a man more suited to fight for our right to freedom of expression!

From our EU human rights

ARTICLE 10 - FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

You have the right to hold opinions and express your views on your own or in a group. This applies even if they are unpopular

or disturbing. This right can only be restricted in specified circumstances.

I'm no legal expert - but do UEFA really have the power to ban a melody with lyrics that can offend no one?

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D'Art - a legal case to challenge the banning of TBB would be an excellent start. If the words deemed to be antagonistic are dropped, then on what grounds are we no longer allowed to sing our iconic anthem?

Sorry for the delay in responding Moses - the server issue seemed to affect Virgin Media that little bit longer. (Well done to Badger & the other teccies for sorting it (tu) )

I think the point you make is most interesting. It would be an ironic situation if a song deemed "sectarian" by UEFA was after legal debate in this country deemed to be non sectarian. I actually think that UEFA's original ruling (pre appeal) was a far more accurate summation ie too complex and intricate and relating to historical and social background factors etc etc

At the heart of the matter is the literal meaning of the word "Fenian". UEFA's ruling appears to suggest that the nature and meaning of the word has changed or adapted to be exclusively used to describe Catholics. Whilst I accept that within our support there are a some who would use the word in such a context, I do not believe such a notion is universal.

These same supporters who sang about being up to our knees in Fenain blood are the same supporters who have honoured players such as Albertz, Amo, McCann as supporter's clubs players of the year - hardly consistent with a support for whom it is suggested there is a hatred of Roman Catholics.

However to bring some balance to the debate - the same could probably be said about the word "h**"...the justification behind the recent conviction was that the original meaning and nature of the word had evolved into something else.

My overall suspicion is that if any of these cases went to the Court of Appeal the convictions would be quashed.

I think overalll that football has been used as a vehicle by politicians to try and score some easy political points and the banning of TBB and the subsequent convictions have been the casualties. Most social commentators highlight the divisiveness of our schooling system as being the chief culprit for the sectarian divide in Scotland. I mean even Catholic Bishops are alluding to such a fact.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/2274383.stm

Whatever the right and wrongs of it all, we as a football club and a support have allowed ourselves to be manipulated, to be used as guinea pigs in a political points scoring exercise. They continue to do this because they do not fear our influence or power, furthemore the potential of that power has not been harnessed properly.

There is a simple reason why the recognised divisive schooling is not on the politician's lips - it would not be a vote winner.

We as a support have to start to make our issues poltically sensitive - and perhaps irrespective of tradition our family ties to certain parties - start pledging our vote to those parties who are willing to represent us and the issues we have.

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I think overalll that football has been used as a vehicle by politicians to try and score some easy political points and the banning of TBB and the subsequent convictions have been the casualties.

D'Art - if the lyrics were changed to remove 'fenian' on what grounds could the song then be deemed to be unnacceptable? Unless I'm wrong - isn't the song itself banned with or without the lyric in question?

For me, the biggest casualty of the banning has been a troubling and very real sense of injustice amongst those very Rangers supporters who you rightly identify as able to make heroes of players from all religious or cultural backgrounds. You could easily add the focal point our iconic, anthemic song provides at key points in any given match as being stolen from us.

I'm not suggesting that you personally take this on for us, but isn't this exactly the sort of task the Trust should be charged with? Of course it should fundamentally be a duty of the club. The day Murray publicly hung Findlay was also the day I understood beyond doubt that The Rangers is nothing more than a business interest to him. So there can be no surprise that the club under his control does not accept that we, the support, should instinctively be defended as vigorously as any other part of the whole.

But, despite Murray's dereliction of duty, Article 10 enshrines our right to freedom of expression, and if Murray doesn't understand the need to challenge the injustice on our behalf, we should do it ourselves. EUFA, to my mind, have no right to stamp on it and should be taken to task. The reality is that supporters of other clubs in Scotland enjoy the rights freely and without penalty. This imbalance was never acceptable - but will continue to be the case until (as you demand) we decide to act to challenge the situation.

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I think overalll that football has been used as a vehicle by politicians to try and score some easy political points and the banning of TBB and the subsequent convictions have been the casualties.

D'Art - if the lyrics were changed to remove 'fenian' on what grounds could the song then be deemed to be unnacceptable? Unless I'm wrong - isn't the song itself banned with or without the lyric in question?

For me, the biggest casualty of the banning has been a troubling and very real sense of injustice amongst those very Rangers supporters who you rightly identify as able to make heroes of players from all religious or cultural backgrounds. You could easily add the focal point our iconic, anthemic song provides at key points in any given match as being stolen from us.

I'm not suggesting that you personally take this on for us, but isn't this exactly the sort of task the Trust should be charged with? Of course it should fundamentally be a duty of the club. The day Murray publicly hung Findlay was also the day I understood beyond doubt that The Rangers is nothing more than a business interest to him. So there can be no surprise that the club under his control does not accept that we, the support, should instinctively be defended as vigorously as any other part of the whole.

But, despite Murray's dereliction of duty, Article 10 enshrines our right to freedom of expression, and if Murray doesn't understand the need to challenge the injustice on our behalf, we should do it ourselves. EUFA, to my mind, have no right to stamp on it and should be taken to task. The reality is that supporters of other clubs in Scotland enjoy the rights freely and without penalty. This imbalance was never acceptable - but will continue to be the case until (as you demand) we decide to act to challenge the situation.

I could be wrong Moses but I thought I read somewhere that the UEFA ruling actually makes mention of the tune ( Marching Through Georgia ) and not just the words.

If that's the case it just demonstrates how flawed the ruling was. Can you imagine getting arrested for humming the tune !?!?

"What's the accused charged with constable ?"

Humming in a sectarian manner m'lud"

Have the words 'You couldn't make this up' ever been so fitting ?

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I think overalll that football has been used as a vehicle by politicians to try and score some easy political points and the banning of TBB and the subsequent convictions have been the casualties.

D'Art - if the lyrics were changed to remove 'fenian' on what grounds could the song then be deemed to be unnacceptable? Unless I'm wrong - isn't the song itself banned with or without the lyric in question?

For me, the biggest casualty of the banning has been a troubling and very real sense of injustice amongst those very Rangers supporters who you rightly identify as able to make heroes of players from all religious or cultural backgrounds. You could easily add the focal point our iconic, anthemic song provides at key points in any given match as being stolen from us.

I'm not suggesting that you personally take this on for us, but isn't this exactly the sort of task the Trust should be charged with? Of course it should fundamentally be a duty of the club. The day Murray publicly hung Findlay was also the day I understood beyond doubt that The Rangers is nothing more than a business interest to him. So there can be no surprise that the club under his control does not accept that we, the support, should instinctively be defended as vigorously as any other part of the whole.

But, despite Murray's dereliction of duty, Article 10 enshrines our right to freedom of expression, and if Murray doesn't understand the need to challenge the injustice on our behalf, we should do it ourselves. EUFA, to my mind, have no right to stamp on it and should be taken to task. The reality is that supporters of other clubs in Scotland enjoy the rights freely and without penalty. This imbalance was never acceptable - but will continue to be the case until (as you demand) we decide to act to challenge the situation.

I could be wrong Moses but I thought I read somewhere that the UEFA ruling actually makes mention of the tune ( Marching Through Georgia ) and not just the words.

If that's the case it just demonstrates how flawed the ruling was. Can you imagine getting arrested for humming the tune !?!?

"What's the accused charged with constable ?"

Humming in a sectarian manner m'lud"

Have the words 'You couldn't make this up' ever been so fitting ?

D'art I thought that UEFA banned TBB but Murray banned the tune from Ibrox. If UEFA banned the tune surely no support would be allowed to sing their version.

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I think overalll that football has been used as a vehicle by politicians to try and score some easy political points and the banning of TBB and the subsequent convictions have been the casualties.

D'Art - if the lyrics were changed to remove 'fenian' on what grounds could the song then be deemed to be unnacceptable? Unless I'm wrong - isn't the song itself banned with or without the lyric in question?

For me, the biggest casualty of the banning has been a troubling and very real sense of injustice amongst those very Rangers supporters who you rightly identify as able to make heroes of players from all religious or cultural backgrounds. You could easily add the focal point our iconic, anthemic song provides at key points in any given match as being stolen from us.

I'm not suggesting that you personally take this on for us, but isn't this exactly the sort of task the Trust should be charged with? Of course it should fundamentally be a duty of the club. The day Murray publicly hung Findlay was also the day I understood beyond doubt that The Rangers is nothing more than a business interest to him. So there can be no surprise that the club under his control does not accept that we, the support, should instinctively be defended as vigorously as any other part of the whole.

But, despite Murray's dereliction of duty, Article 10 enshrines our right to freedom of expression, and if Murray doesn't understand the need to challenge the injustice on our behalf, we should do it ourselves. EUFA, to my mind, have no right to stamp on it and should be taken to task. The reality is that supporters of other clubs in Scotland enjoy the rights freely and without penalty. This imbalance was never acceptable - but will continue to be the case until (as you demand) we decide to act to challenge the situation.

I could be wrong Moses but I thought I read somewhere that the UEFA ruling actually makes mention of the tune ( Marching Through Georgia ) and not just the words.

If that's the case it just demonstrates how flawed the ruling was. Can you imagine getting arrested for humming the tune !?!?

"What's the accused charged with constable ?"

Humming in a sectarian manner m'lud"

Have the words 'You couldn't make this up' ever been so fitting ?

D'art I thought that UEFA banned TBB but Murray banned the tune from Ibrox. If UEFA banned the tune surely no support would be allowed to sing their version.

thats what i thought (tu)

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That may be the case SB and certainly sounds more feasible than UEFA banning a tune. I wonder if anyone can elaborate on that one ?

Evening D'Art.

I can't elaborate due to UEFA not replying to my 3 previous emails requesting clarification of what exactly was banned and by whom.

However, I do have a wee twist on this situation...............

Previously, following trouble at Roma's home CL games in which visiting fans were assaulted and stabbed, UEFA warned Roma that the CL final to be held there this season would be removed if there was any further trouble.

Recently, an Arsenal fan was stabbed, so you would have expected UEFA to stick to their guns and remove the CL final. Wouldn't you? Instead, that Scottish guy on the UEFA committee or whatever (sorry, can't remember his name) was on Sky Sports News last night confirming the CL final will go ahead in Rome with improved security.

Now, I mabe just a cynical old bassa, but if serious stabbing offences by fans can be "forgotten about" by UEFA themselves, surely the banning of a harmless ditty can be successfully challenged?

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That may be the case SB and certainly sounds more feasible than UEFA banning a tune. I wonder if anyone can elaborate on that one ?

Evening D'Art.

I can't elaborate due to UEFA not replying to my 3 previous emails requesting clarification of what exactly was banned and by whom.

However, I do have a wee twist on this situation...............

Previously, following trouble at Roma's home CL games in which visiting fans were assaulted and stabbed, UEFA warned Roma that the CL final to be held there this season would be removed if there was any further trouble.

Recently, an Arsenal fan was stabbed, so you would have expected UEFA to stick to their guns and remove the CL final. Wouldn't you? Instead, that Scottish guy on the UEFA committee or whatever (sorry, can't remember his name) was on Sky Sports News last night confirming the CL final will go ahead in Rome with improved security.

Now, I mabe just a cynical old bassa, but if serious stabbing offences by fans can be "forgotten about" by UEFA themselves, surely the banning of a harmless ditty can be successfully challenged?

Is it David Will you are talking about bro ?

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“It’s only the first step which is difficult” - Marquise Du Defend, letter to Defend, 1763

There have been some firsts in the last few weeks. The murder of 2 British soldiers in Northern Ireland saw former IRA terrorist Martin McGuiness condemn those responsible. The subsequent murder of a Policeman saw members of Sinn Fein attend as mourners at his funeral. Another first.

What was not a first however was the sight of members of the Celtic support mocking those deaths. Despite the condemnation from McGuiness it would appear that these scum still wish to revel and celebrate the murder of security forces in Northern Ireland. Despite the obvious attempt to usurp the Ulster peace process, which is believed to be the motivation behind these callous murders, sections of the Celtic support see fit to celebrate such atrocities.

These murders caused waves of revulsion amongst all communities in Northern Ireland, as well as the rest of the United Kingdom. All except one community. The community of Celtic supporters who hate all things British. It seems to matter not a jot to them that the Police officer murdered, Stephen Carroll, was in fact a Roman Catholic. This is beyond sectarianism, it is the kind of racism and hatred which gives support to ethnic cleansing.

This nest of vipers and their abhorrent conduct were the focus of a recent article in The Sun.

But really, for all of Scotland this is not news, we have lived and been subjected to their particular brand of hatred for our country, our people, our religion and our football club for decades. In another generation, many years ago that hatred existed and festered. Those of them, who didn’t join the yellow convoy, stayed to express their hatred of our country to the extent their football ground was shut down.

This hatred is both historical and current. Despite the blatant nature of such hatred, the recent focus of sectarianism in this country has focussed very much in the main, on our football club.

Whilst these pedlars of bigotry and racism were continuing with their songs of hatred, celebrating those who shoot young men in the back or Policemen protecting their communities, it seems the media, the politicians and the football authorities in Scotland were far more concerned about Rangers fans mocking such pedlars of hatred. Everyone in Scotland wanted to jump on the Famine Song condemnation bus, but not one in Scotland thought to provide a sense of balance to the debate as to why this song was being sung. Instead it took an MP from Northern Ireland to offer an explanation as to why this song was being sung, and to condemn those whose songs celebrated murder and racism.

Those who promised equality and parity, such as George Peat, when it came to dealing with offensive singing, have lied.

The media who have reported on such matters have consistently lied, fabricated, exaggerated and covered up when necessary.

Those who should be defending this football club and its supporters, our chairman and executives, have utterly and comprehensively failed, with a mixture of naivety, apathy and downright neglect.

But saddest of all, many of our own number have failed to defend this club, preferring to stick their heads in the sand in denial, or worst of all to accuse fellow Bears of “paranoia” when they have dared to protest at the madness which is upon us.

The vitriolic focus which has been directed against our club in the last few years has been characterised by a complete lack of balance, parity, accuracy and justice. Several individuals in particular have maximised anything negative about our club, and if there was a lack of anything negative to fabricate they have simply made it up.

A pepperami here...

An eggs Benedict there...

Grass cut to represent the Sash...

The Bouncy depicting a sectarian murder...

Ibrox resembling a Nuremberg Rally....

Rangers cultivating sectarianism...

And of course the list goes on.

And on. And on. And on. And on.

Chip...chip...chip...chip.... how many remember that post from a few years ago ?

And look how far things have degenerated further even since then.

And yet all the while whilst they have scraped around or invented tittle tattle stories about our club... a story about festering hatred has gone unreported...uncovered.

How much more of this are we going to take ? How long are we going to liars, bigots, charlatans and cowards besmirch our club and its support, to drag the name of Rangers through the gutter ?

Its time to do everything within our power to defend her.

It’s time to take that first step..... united as one.

What a post. Bravo, bravo.

"How much more of this are we going to take ? How long are we going to liars, bigots, charlatans and cowards besmirch our club and its support, to drag the name of Rangers through the gutter ?"

I'll step forward with ya brethren.

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That may be the case SB and certainly sounds more feasible than UEFA banning a tune. I wonder if anyone can elaborate on that one ?

Evening D'Art.

I can't elaborate due to UEFA not replying to my 3 previous emails requesting clarification of what exactly was banned and by whom.

However, I do have a wee twist on this situation...............

Previously, following trouble at Roma's home CL games in which visiting fans were assaulted and stabbed, UEFA warned Roma that the CL final to be held there this season would be removed if there was any further trouble.

Recently, an Arsenal fan was stabbed, so you would have expected UEFA to stick to their guns and remove the CL final. Wouldn't you? Instead, that Scottish guy on the UEFA committee or whatever (sorry, can't remember his name) was on Sky Sports News last night confirming the CL final will go ahead in Rome with improved security.

Now, I mabe just a cynical old bassa, but if serious stabbing offences by fans can be "forgotten about" by UEFA themselves, surely the banning of a harmless ditty can be successfully challenged?

Is it David Will you are talking about bro ?

That's the one D'Art. (tu)

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Did you see David McLetchie's recent speech ECB ?

It seems certain politicians in Scotland have not been duped........

"Like other members, I congratulate Patrick Harvie on bringing the bill to the stage 1 debate after a long campaign by him and others in support of its principles.

The concept of creating statutory aggravations for offences committed out of prejudice towards a specific group in our society is not new. As others have pointed out, we already have legislation for crimes motivated by racial hatred in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which was passed at Westminster. More recently, in section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, this Parliament created an aggravated offence for crimes motivated by religious prejudice.

At the time, I did not vote for the provision on offences aggravated by religious prejudice and I still have considerable reservations about the way in which the matter is policed. That is not because I object to having an aggravation for offences arising from motivations of religious prejudice but because, in the specific context of section 74 of the 2003 act, it was said that the purpose of the new law was to deal with sectarian behaviour in Scotland. It manifestly does not do that. On one side of Scotland's sectarian divide, the aggravation clearly applies to malice that is directed towards people of the Roman Catholic faith; however, the contrary sectarian behaviour in Scotland is, in practice, primarily expressed through the glorification of Irish nationalism, republicanism and terrorism against the British state. In itself, such glorification has no religious connotations - nationalist and republican movements in Ireland have historically been of a secular nature - so such conduct cannot fall within section 74 even though it is plainly sectarian in nature. The result, certainly at football matches, is that the police have taken so-called anti-sectarian initiatives that have caused considerable resentment because the emphasis is on one set of supporters. The temptation is to make a point by policing the statutory aggravation rather than the primary offence. Perhaps it is time for a review of the operation of that statutory aggravation and of how it fits in with other aggravations, including those that are proposed in the bill.

One of the most striking features of hate-motivated crime is its ability not only to affect and scar emotionally the individual who is the victim of that crime but to create a whole community of victims. Evidence was presented to the Justice Committee that victims of hate crimes can suffer additional psychological trauma in coming to terms with the offence that has been committed against them. Furthermore, an attack on one person or organisation that is born out of prejudice or hatred is, in essence, an attack on all the people who are members of that group. A climate of fear can be created in members of a community because an aspect of their identity that they cannot change - or certainly would not wish to change - is hated by another person.

Courts in Scotland can and do take account of a wide range of factors - which can be mitigating or aggravating - when deciding on a sentence. By including the aggravations that are specified in the bill in the statute book, the motivation behind such crimes can be addressed. As Gavin Brown said, we welcome the provisions in the bill that will enhance and ensure accurate recording of aggravated offences and enable us to track trends. It was pleasing to hear the Cabinet Secretary for Justice acknowledge that point in his speech. Until now, the monitoring of such offences appears not to have been as robust as it might have been. If we know and have that information, we will be in a better position to tackle such types of crime in the future through a variety of policing, community-engagement and educational strategies. We also welcome the fact that the bill will not impose any mandatory sentence on proof of aggravation. In that respect, the independence of our judiciary is paramount. Judges are best placed to make an informed decision in each case in deciding on the appropriate sentencing option that is available to them.

As many have said, hate crime legislation sends out a signal to society that criminal conduct rooted in intolerant views and values will not be tolerated, but legislation alone will not drive social change. It would be wrong to adopt such a self-satisfied and complacent approach. Passing the bill is the start, not the finish, of a process. Some people hate their fellow man for reasons known only to them. In itself, such hatred is not criminal, nor should it be. We cannot police thoughts nor should we limit freedom of expression, but we can target and highlight criminal conduct that is motivated by such hatred. The creation of a new statutory aggravation to give specific recognition to victims who are targeted as a result of hatred of their actual or presumed disability or transgender or sexual orientation is now appropriate, given the statutory aggravations that are already in place for other groups and to bring our law into line with that of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As Martin Luther King said,

"It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless."

We cannot outlaw hatred, but we can outlaw the harm that is caused by hatred. That is why we should support this bill."

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