Behind the obnoxious and noxious racist abuse that Alexander ‘AJ’ MacKinnon, 47, was filmed hurling at Sanaa Shahid and her son, Zayn, while the pair were travelling home to Glasgow from London in a first class carriage what do we really see?
And behind all of that there lies ignorance
Here is a man whose understanding of the U.K. is in all respects well and truly malnourished
Hurtful though his behaviour was for Mrs Shahid and her son to whom his anger was directed perhaps the most striking impression to be drawn was that his attitude was pitiful.
By saying Mrs Shahid ‘doesn’t belong in this country’ he was invoking some sort of a contorted variant of the rights of the majority he espouses to represent, a majority that by the way is white.
They are views that mark him out emphatically as a member of an extremely sad but very vocal minioity.
This doesn’t make it any less of a concern and especially because of those who stood by and said nothing and it certainly doesn’t mean that we should ignore him or those who share his blinkered view.
The problem judging by the rise in nationalistic chest thumping visible most notably in the USA as seen by the actions of Donald Trump and in the U.K. Before and since the Brexit Referendum Vote are in significant ascendancy.
What is clear is that the views expressed by MacKinnon is a reflection of the rise in xenophobic politics.
Closer to home MacKinnon is part of a minority the extent of which we’re not well placed to judge.
The facts is that in the U.K. we do not keep accurate records on or know the extent of the abuse mainly it has to be admitted because of the lack of guidelines regarding the standards of proof so we end up treating evidence with a great deal of conservative caution.
What we need to develop in society is a collective reaction and response to doing something about hate speech.
We however have to be careful that we don’t confuse it with free speech because if we do the unscrupulous will, and in fact are using the confusion to support their continuing xenophobic attitudes.
The problem with such as MacKinnon is would charges of offensive language and the facts actually stand up to scrutiny in the courts of law?
And yes I know he was found guilty and admitted a ‘racially aggravated public order offence’ and was fined £1154, plus £50 compensation, a £150 victim surcharge and £85 in court costs.
But that is the whole point.
He was charged with a ‘racially aggravated public order offence’.
Perhaps a specific criminal category of hate speech would help but wouldn’t it strike the majority of people as immoral, ugly and even dangerous – a step to far?
The problem is there are some who would use such legislation to shut down other debates on religion, politics and ethical issues.
It is the problem of unintended consequences, which of course brings us back to Donald Trump’s USA , where his poor and ill thought out policies will always lead to unintended consequences and not only for his citizens.
We have to listen to ourselves and not blindly embrace the views of others or we may end up crushing all of those who aren’t tolerant or fair minded.
As for Mr MacKinnon and his ilk should we confront them – true bloody right we should.