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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Review’

Coming Together or Falling Apart? Freedom of Speech in the Age of Noise

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 17th 2018

The context and limits of freedom of speech have always been important, but everywhere this seems to have become increasingly contentious.

Whether it is white supremacists in the US declaring they are protecting the US way of life, our very own home-grown hate speak from Tommy Robinson, or the multiple sensitivities, claims and counter-claims on transgender issues something seems to be going on.

Only last weekend there was a mini-controversy when Ann Henderson, Edinburgh University’s Rector, retweeted details of an event on ‘How will changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) affect women’s rights?” She was condemned by a host of equality and women’s rights campaigners who felt that Henderson, a lifelong feminist, had somehow let down the cause by the act of retweeting, and thus acknowledging there was a debate that needed to be had. Read the rest of this entry »

Toxic Masculinity must be defeated. Silence is not an option for any of us

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 10th 2018

Hate seems to be everywhere in public life. This week Scottish Justice minister Humza Yousaf floated making misogyny a specific hate crime illegal, while in the previous week, the Scottish Government launched a high profile campaign against hate crime.

Look around the world for numerous, state-sponsored examples – US President Donald Trump, the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte with his rape comment after the killing of an Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill that ‘the mayor should have been first’, and Brazilian Presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro and his language of rape references as a political weapon.

Trump’s comments on the Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford case have taken even his debased Presidency to a new low. After initially saying after the Senate hearings that Ford was ‘a very fine woman’, not long after he went into the gutter at a rally mocking sexual abuse and gang rape – then in the last few days, dismissing the whole thing as ‘a hoax’ dreamed up by the Democrats. Read the rest of this entry »

Whatever happened to the springtime for democracy?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 18th 2018

Three decades ago democracy was the future and carrying all before it. The Soviet bloc was collapsing, the South African apartheid regime was crumbling – and all across South America brutal dictatorships were being replaced by democracies (however imperfect) symbolised by the fall of the Pinochet junta.

Today the state of the world could not look more different and feel less optimistic. There are still many more democracies than there even a decade ago, but somehow the springtime for people power promised three decades ago has got lost, and the promise of democracy seems to be in retreat, with authoritarian leaders and the appeal of populism on the rise.

The reasons for this are many and oft-cited: the failure to reform capitalism after the bankers crash, the decade-long stagnation in living standards across the West, the retreat of welfare states and idea of social solidarity, the inability of centre-left parties to tame turbo capitalism (or in many cases even try), and the lack of imagination in the political classes in dealing with these and other problems. All of this and more has led to Trump, Erdogan and Orban – and of course Brexit. Read the rest of this entry »

Who is going to champion Glasgow? Life after the GSA fire and the threat to the CCA

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 12th 2018

Glasgow hasn’t had to look too far to seek its troubles of late. There has been the devastating Glasgow School of Art fire (the second in four years), followed by the seeming abandonment of Sauchiehall Street businesses and residents. And if that weren’t enough in the last week there have been concerns that the acclaimed arts and cultural venue, the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), shut since the GSA fire, faces the prospect of closure.

The CCA has played a vital part in the cultural story of the city. It began life as the Third Eye Centre opening in 1975 where it gave a whole host of emerging and radical artists a platform, providing a hub for debate, exchange and hanging out. This morphed into the CCA in 1992 and subsequently the space was overhauled to create a stunning atrium with a café, along with a cinema space and music venue, with over a dozen businesses and enterprises renting and using space, in a rich eco-system which made it a place to go for interesting conversation, an unusual art exhibition or film, or just food and drink. Read the rest of this entry »

Speaking for Scotland: The Salmond Case, Independence and the Silences of Modern Life

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 5th 2018

The Salmond controversy has garnered huge press coverage. Beyond the actual cases itself, this says a lot about the state of Scotland. I am not making any assumptions about the guilt or innocence of Alex Salmond or the veracity of the accusations. This case is not just about Salmond or the allegations, but casts a wider light on some aspects of Scottish life, with certain parts of society not coming up smelling of roses.

A caveat. ‘This is what we have become’ said Kenny Farquharson. No ‘we’ have not. This is not about the ugliness and hatred in all of us, but in parts of Scotland. All societies have unsavoury opinion and haters: we have to confront ours and not give them the power of assuming they speak for all Scotland.

In this piece I concentrate primarily on the comments and attitudes of Salmond supporters – mostly the private citizens who responded to the crowdfunder, welter of comments on social media, and the odd intervention from public figures – and consider what their views tell us about what they think of the world.

  1. Salmond’s crowdfunder

Salmond’s crowdfunder was a statement of what he could do, and of what he has – status and pulling power. As Dani Garavelli wrote, ‘What was his crowdfunder, if not a display of power and popularity?’ It was a problematic action in relation to the course of justice being allowed to take its course. Glasgow University legal academic James Chalmers observed: ‘his crowdfunder does not state what decision he seeks to challenge in a JR [Judicial Review], nor what remedy he is seeking in that process’. And why does someone like Salmond need to go out with his collecting bucket to the general public? Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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