Following the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and first minister of Scotland, attention has turned to Sturgeon’s successor. Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy and a frontrunner to succeed Sturgeon, has attracted attention for her membership of the Free Church of Scotland, a conservative denomination which opposes gay marriage, abortion and gender self-ID. Last night, Forbes
I noticed a comment on this issue on 'Spiked' that I think is worth passing on, from its editor:
'Spiked is a liberal, humanist publication – which for us means being pro-choice, pro-gay-liberation and decidedly anti-woke. But you don’t need to share the views of Kate Forbes or any other politician of faith who has been cancelled and shamed to see the pattern emerging. Forbes’ opponents are the truly intolerant ones here.'
Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins, the stock-character scourge of Christians everywhere has also hit back at the move among certain academics to ban certain common words: "only possible response" to the calls - which included advice against emphasising "heteronormative views" - is "contemptuous ridicule" says Dawkins.
Yes, there is a pattern emerging and it has been doing so for at least two decades. The pattern is to consign certain heterodox views to the realms of de facto criminality. The trajectory of despair begins with identifying new scapegoats. These take the place of former scapegoats who become a protected species to the point where they can do no wrong. The next step is to modify or censor the language of discourse. This is not liberalism, this is tyranny. It's a cliche that language is empowering. Of course it is. People used to think that the 'oppressed' could be liberated through education, the idea that if they had ownership of the language of discourse, they could improve their lot - a not exactly unreasonable proposition. But to replace one form of tyranny with another, in this case to turn the proposition on its head and to deny intellectuals the tools of their trade, or at least to create five minute shibboleths that nobody but the chosen few can keep up with, is what is happening now. The only caveat I would give to those who oppose Kate Forbes is, He/She/They/OhWhatever who is without sin among you, throw the first stone.
But it is a policy position on something that was contested in the past, and is no longer contested? The argument would be valid if she were opposing present policy and threatening to repeal it, but that isn't the case here. It could be argued that she would oppose Gender Self ID, contrary to the party membership. However, it's not necessarily true that her opposition would be on religious grounds...
Is it right to always be tolerant of someone’s faith and defend them when they’re under attack... even when their faith is itself not very tolerant? It’s a tough question! Which I probably dodged by pointing out the practical difficulties...
Faith should be no bar to office, but what kind of office? Surely the answer to that depends on another question - what kind of faith? At one end of the toleration spectrum is the Anglican version, which amounts to turning a blind eye. Deciding that the value of keeping together, living with the differences between you, can sometimes trump the value of theological purity and consistency. Kate Forbes’ version of Christianity is very different. It does not permit her to turn a blind eye. The best she can offer when it comes to toleration is “hate the sin but love the sinner”.
It is easier to see how someone of those views could themselves be tolerated within a diverse wider movement, than to see how they could lead that movement. Unless the SNP’s programme becomes a moral issue-free zone? Even then Forbes’ opponents would come back to this area of vulnerability again and again, and ‘kick the bruise’. If they are wise the SNP members will say - high office yes, but sorry Kate, leadership no.
She’s crazy, will she win the leadership?