Is this the best the SNP can do in defence of the OB Act?

10/9/15

The following is a recent twitter exchange (w/c 31/8/15) between John Mason MSP and Jeanette Findlay who is a Celtic supporter and a member of FAC.  Opponents of the Act from other clubs joined in the exchange but to clarify the exchange and highlight the complete nonsense that underpins the pro-SNP Government  argument we have shown the debate between JM and JF.  Some points expressed over two or three tweets have been combined for the sake of clarity.

John Mason MSP ‏

OBAF Act is pro Catholic and pro Irish. It is because so many Irish and Catholics were victims that the Act was brought in. It is there to help Irish and Catholics

Jeanette Findlay ‏

By stopping Hamilton fans singing ‘f**k yer ‘well’? By stopping people singing Irish songs? This is nonsense. Point me to one single statement by any Minister which set this out as an aim of the Act.

John Mason MSP ‏

I am more interested in what Act says and does than what minister said.

Jeanette Findlay ‏

You said it was brought in to protect the Irish/Catholics – that suggests an explicit intention. Who else would express that? But ok point me to any statistic or other evidence that shows that the Act is protecting the Irish/Catholic community.

John Mason MSP   

Main victims of abuse are Catholics & Irish. Act challenges such abuse. So main beneficiaries are intended to be Catholics & Irish

Jeanette Findlay

We had legislation for that. What the Act makes criminal is ‘offensiveness’ as defined by political police & political COPFS.

John Mason MSP   

No. It is offensive as defined by a reasonable person. Previous legislation was not working.

Jeanette Findlay ‏

No John, read the Joseph Cairns appeal, it is explicitly not the reasonable person but the more ‘volatile’ person. Please spell out for me precisely how the existing legislation didn’t work and the OB Act does.

John Mason MSP ‏

Breach of Peace has been accepted to be unsatisfactory. Modern legal requirements and human rights need more specific offences.

Jeanette Findlay ‏

You haven’t given me any evidence that the pre-existing legislation didn’t work and the OB Act does. In what way does it work? As to your reference to Human Rights and the requirement to be specific, the OB Bill was condemned by every legal association in Scotland for being precisely the opposite! This Act is anything but specific.

John Mason MSP  

Well clearly it wasn’t working because so many Catholics & Irish were subject to abuse. We had to do something to help these folk.

Jeanette Findlay ‏ 

These folk? Do you mean people like me John and many of my community who find the Act discriminatory and oppressive? I’ll ask one more direct question. Name one Irish or Catholic group who have said they support the Offensive Behaviour Act?

John Mason MSP ‏ 

I mean we as a society & parliament had duty to help the victims of offensive behaviour. And the main victims were Irish/Catholic.

Jeanette Findlay ‏ 

So I ask again, cite a single piece of evidence to show that this is what the Act is doing? Just give me a straight answer.

John Mason MSP ‏ 

The evidence is that most victims of offensive behaviour are Catholic/Irish so Act is clamping down on that behaviour.

Jeanette Findlay ‏ 

12 hours and that was your best shot? You are closed-minded and impervious to reason. You have avoided every direct request for evidence and frankly I find your feigned willingness to debate, simply dishonest.

John Mason MSP   

Thanks for that! I have responded but I guess you do not like my response.

Jeanette Findlay ‏ 

No John, you either gave ludicrous responses or none at all eg name a single Catholic/Irish organisation who support this Act. Do you at least accept that your view of what the Act is for is not accepted by the community you claim to be protecting?

John Mason MSP

Agree

Jeanette Findlay

Agreed what? That the Act should be abolished?

John Mason MSP

Agreed that the Act is not accepted. We need to work on that!

Jeanette Findlay

You think that actually the Act is protecting us but we just don’t understand it and just need to be convinced. Incredible!

John Mason MSP (to another Twitterer)

Football is main aspect of sectarianism. Marches should be dealt with next.

Jeanette Findlay

You say you’re more interested in facts than opinions yet quote ‘surveys’ about opinions rather than stats. Regardless of what people think the stats show that only a tiny percentage of sectarian acts happen at football

John Mason MSP

Football is rated number one issue when people are asked about sectarianism.

Jeanette Findlay

Yes, hardly surprising when that is the message hammered out by the media and politicians but official crime stats show that this is not the case. So is it facts or opinions you prefer?

John Mason MSP

Fact is 84% of charges were for anti-Catholic behaviour.

Jeanette Findlay

Yes and every single one of those could have been, and arguably would have been, dealt with under the existing legislation.

Jeanette Findlay

John, your government has been reported to the UN Human Rights Commission specifically for this Act and the concern that it is infringing religious and civil liberties. What do you have to say about that?

John Mason MSP

I do not think it is infringing civil liberties but courts can decide. Human rights are always a balance between competing rights.

Jeanette Findlay

So no shame at all then? Well I hope the UN HRC has a better grasp of the concept than you appear to have. I think we’ll leave it there for now John. You crack on with defending my community by criminalising us.

So there it is, in his own words.  Whether or not you are a Catholic, Irish or even a football supporter we think you will be disturbed by this ludicrous defence of the Act from John Mason, an elected representative in the Scottish Parliament.  Scary stuff!

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