‘fans who blessed themselves in an “aggressive” manner could also face jail’

I’m trying to figure out what that would look like.

The post title is a direct quote from this piece in the Daily Record about Scotland’s proposed anti-bigotry law getting fast-tracked.

The government are rushing their new anti-bigotry law through Holyrood in time for the start of the football season on July 23.

The worst offenders could get five years in jail for sectarian “offensive behaviour”, and “keyboard warriors” who use the internet to spread hate will face the same punishment.

The Bill will be passed next week, before MSPs begin their long summer holiday.

But the process of consulting, scrutinising and voting on a Bill normally takes a year.

And opposition MSPs and lawyers fear ministers are running the risk of passing a bad law by moving too fast.

I take it competition between teams and their fans get a little.. shall we say, excessive? If they think they need a law in place to stop people from grievously insulting the opposition… Assuming the threat of jail would work to stop those people or be enforceable enough in the first place, of course. Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham was interviewed about this by Tory John Lamont. She expects the law will also cover over-taunting with “God Save the Queen” and “Rule Britannia.”

“No matter how inoffensive the action, it really does depend on the circumstances.”

Cunningham also warned that laws designed to crack down on internet bigots, in the wake of online death threats against Celtic manager Neil Lennon, could also catch traders selling offensive unofficial merchandise to fans.

Posters, T-shirts and videos featuring threats or sectarian material will all be outlawed after the new Bill is passed.

The minister’s comments highlighted the wide scope of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill.

And that point was reinforced by Strathclyde Assistant Chief Constable Campbell Corrigan.

He said that, under the terms of the new law, tens of thousands of fans were “definitely” committing crimes at grounds every weekend.

Are police going to go to the houses of every fan to round up the lawbreakers after the game? That would be the only way to get them all. Nets outside the pubs too, I suppose. Five years of jail time seems a little steep for insinuating the opposing fans are Catholic/Queen lovers, but I don’t live there. Maybe they’re just desperate to do what they can to avoid riots in the street, something Vancouver’s police force wishes they could’ve done when the city lost the Stanley Cup and fans lost their minds.

Lib Dem spokeswoman Alison McInnes said: “What is becoming clearer by the minute is that this Bill is being recklessly rushed through parliament, with no time to consider whether it will actually make any difference to the fight against sectarianism.”

It’s starting to look like there’s not a hell of a lot of differences between sport and war anymore.

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