The burning issues of the day.

1) The Resistance Campaign – calling on MPs to affirm that “disabled and terminally ill people deserve and are entitled to the same protection in law as everyone else,” and that “disabled and terminally ill people seeking assistance to end their lives should receive the same support provided to any other person with suicidal thoughts and be encouraged to live,” among other things. There’s a petion to sign, should you feel so inclined.

2) An invitation from Demand Change to join a letter-writing campaign in the aftermath of the Bradford murders. It is striking that the only time that reporters dash off to interview women on the streets about whether they’re scared or not, is after someone has been murdered. As if it was safe and unremarkable to work as a prostitute any other day of the year. But people persistently twist unavoidable evidence of the violence involved in prostitution into a reason to call for prostitution to be legalised – a reaction which is utterly misguided. As Demand Change point out, prostitution is inherently harmful and exploitative: most women working as prostitutes would rather not, and legalising prostitution only means that the harm and exploitation carries on legally.

3) A concern about freedom of speech in Scotland. Changes to the law are being proposed in Holyrood in order to tackle domestic abuse and stalking, something which is perfectly worthy in itself, but the original bill would have made it a crime to use words that could possibly distress someone, even if they caused no distress and were not intended to. The law would have applied to any one-off incident, in a private home as well as a public place, and would have carried a 5-year prison sentence. After a widely reported outcry, this proposal has been withdrawn, but there is still a danger that whatever modifications are made will still be insufficient to safeguard freedom of speech – any amount of stuff you hear on a daily basis can be distressing for a whole host of reasons, without the need for involving criminal law. This is of course just one more worrying sign that while the Scottish government talks fine words about civil liberties, it has very little understanding of what that means in practice (see how strongly they were against Westminster’s database-linked ID cards, but how determinedly they have persisted with the Scottish National Entitlement Card, which is effectively the same thing with a saltire on the front). It would also have given Scotland the most draconian speech laws in the UK, not to say the civilised world. The person to contact about this is your MSP, assuming you know who they are.

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