PREDICTING the sky will fall in unless the government changes course is not an argument, but a sign that an argument has already been lost.
Donald Trump offers one example this week. His apocalyptic visions of a Scotland encased in wind farms, boycotted by tourists, and starving in the poorhouse are certainly colourful, but they are hopelessly inaccurate. They are also, as we report today, pure humbug.
In public, the US property tycoon says the wind turbines which may be sited off the coast near his luxury golf resort in Aberdeenshire would be an abomination.
However, as recently as 2010, his company was privately lauding the renewable energy sector in Scotland, wishing wind projects "every success".
Rather than a genuine plea to save his mother country from rogue technology, Trump's doomsaying appears little more than a cover for old-fashioned nimbyism, as he tries to keep the North Sea as controlled and immaculate as the 18th green – King Canute in plus-fours.
MSPs on Holyrood's energy committee, who will hear him give his views on wind farms on Wednesday, should exercise extreme scepticism. Trump does not speak for Scotland – he speaks for Donald Trump.
Another example of runaway hyperbole is that of Bashir Maan and the Council of Glasgow Imams calling on Muslim voters to withhold their votes in the local elections unless they find a candidate opposed to same-sex marriage.
The Scottish Government's plans to extend marriage to gay couples will result in population decline and the crumbling of society, warns Maan. Like Trump's tirade against wind farms, such language is so over the top it undermines the case of those using it.
Equally wrong-headed is the idea promulgated by some opponents of gay marriage that churches and mosques would be forced to conduct same-sex marriages against their will. It is simply untrue.
Ministers have been clear from the outset of their consultation on the issue that any such ceremonies would be wholly voluntary. Yet the impression persists in faith communities.
It is sad that hysteria and misinformation seem to have replaced rational debate on the subject.
When confronted by pleas from the likes of Trump and Maan, ministers should not ignore them.
In a democracy, all voices should be heard. But their words should be carefully weighted. They deserve a response which is proportionate, not to the volume at which they are delivered, or the headlines they generate, but to their merits.
And as there is little merit in the protestations of either Trump or Maan on their respective issues, that means giving both short shrift. Governments should reflect the evolving wishes of society as a whole, not a siren few.
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