Free speech matters

There is an old Latin tag which had plenty of traction in the times when freedom of speech was not under such a severe threat as it is today. Who has not heard of tot homines, quot sententiae?

Thanks to the rise of what we now designate as the cancel culture, it has become increasingly more difficult to voice one's opinions without facing a hurricane of venomous attacks on social media platforms for daring to oppose or question current orthodoxy.

Where in the past heretics endured burning at the stake, today those who stick their heads above the parapet are assailed by insult and threat for criticising what the angry mob wants us to swallow hook, line and sinker.

Debate, conducted rationally with an element of passion and wit, comes under emotive assault from those whose ambition is to stifle free speech by straitjacketing us within the narrow confines of the perspective to which they have sworn their allegiance..

One of the tactics employed by this brigade is to take remarks out of context to create public animosity against the innocent victim of their hatred. Knee-jerk reactions are taking the place of reasoned discussion tied to factual evidence and personal experience.

Sadly this tendency is taking a stronger hold on popular opinion than it merits.

There must be room and space for disagreement without resorting to abuse intended to intimidate critics to keep silent. Reflection rather than knee-jerk reaction is what underpins the culture of a truly civilised culture.

Denis Bruce


Sunak versus Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon must be sick as a parrot as Rishi Sunak's replacement for the furlough scheme receives widespread praise as being an effective yet pragmatic means to preserve Scottish jobs by the UK government. She'll inevitably manufacture something to whine about though – no way will she be deprived of playing her favourite game of them and us with Westminster.

Martin Redfern


We subsidise English projects

I wonder how many of your readers will benefit from the introduction of the high speed rail link between London and Leeds – not a lot, I hear you cry! Yet every one of them and indeed every taxpayer in Scotland is helping, through their taxes, to pay for this project that will never be used by most of them. The latest estimate of the cost is over £100 billion. Just think what a difference Scotland’s population share of this (over £10 billion) could make to the rail and road network in this country if only we were independent and could control all our own finances.

Peter Swain


Students, take a telling

Perhaps Freshers' Week should be reamed Refreshers' Week. How hard is it to explain that advice, which should actually be changed to rules in this current Covid crisis, is not there for the sake of it. Although the intelligentsia of our universities should not need this clarification, they must understand that penalties may be about to be put in place for their misdemeanours.

However, there is no point with minor threats, they should be in the form of removal from their current year, to be resat at their own expense the following, and another more deserving student put in their place. Surely they, more so than the less intelligent mortals amongst us, must understand that they risk not only themselves, but anyone else they may have fleeting contact with and subsequently anyone in that person`s "bubble", or whatever the current term for legitimate contact is now. The rules do, almost weekly, get all the more confusing.

George Dale


Silly boy!

This year has now reached levels of absurdity not seen since Monty Python, c.1970. My grandson lives in a household barely 300 metres from my own. I'm concerned that he learns about how to take proper Covid precautions… but I'm not supposed to visit his household, according to the Scottish Government.

I live about a mile from Police Scotland HQ. Should I just hand myself in to them now? Or does anyone know where I can buy a long range hand sanitizer so I can go round and aim it at him over the garden wall?

Does it make any difference if I stop at the pub half way and use their hand sanitizer?

Norrie Forrest


Let the MPs pay for asylum seekers

A group of seven Glasgow MPs have demanded a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the deaths of three asylum seekers in Glasgow. Why? Inquiries take a long time and cost taxpayers' money. Do they not trust the police to produce a report? Glasgow South West MP Chris Stephens said that the lack of monies given to asylum seekers was a large part of the problem. Here is a solution that does not need a FAI. MPs are paid nearly £82,000 a year so if the seven MPs are so concerned about those claiming to be asylum seekers they should donate at least £10,000 each every year. The £70,000 every year would keep all the asylum seekers in Glasgow well fed until their claims are decided. MPs are good at talking and taking taxpayers' money but find extreme difficulty in reaching into their own well-lined pockets.

Clark Cross


Scotland In Union's questionable questions

Surveys by Survation, commissioned by "Scotland In Union", found that support for Independence plummets if A) There were to be a hard border with England B) Scotland were left outside the EU C) We endured swingeing spending cuts and tax hikes.

In next week's survey, we get asked about our support were the Scottish Government to kill our first born.

John V Lloyd


End Christian indoctrination of our children

In the Scottish Household Survey 2019 annual report, which Scotland's chief statistician published this month, 56% of adults reported that they did not belong to any religion. Meanwhile the proportion of adults who say they belong to the Church of Scotland has sharply declined since 2009, from 34% to 20%. Scotland's state schools are predominantly divided into denominational Catholic schools and non-denominational schools. The time has surely come to end the Christian indoctrination of our children. Morals are available in religion-free form.

Doug Clark


Scotland needs Tory vaccine

UNLIKE England, Scotland is facing two dangers at present, the Covid pandemic which is showing few signs of abating, and serious reduction of its devolved powers at Holyrood. Evidence of Covid's threat is common knowledge and there for everybody to see although some behave otherwise and ignore the strictures. This rule-breaking demeanour is replicated by Boris Johnson's Westminster government who have been showing a scary readiness to renege on afore-signed agreements, with various eventual victims such as EU post-Brexit trade negotiators, Northern Irish Good Friday peace deal signatories and associated US political figures, Irish Republic politicians, and Holyrood MSPs.

As it is fervently hoped that a vaccine is found soon to stop the Covid pandemic, a similar hope is held that Holyrood also will come up with its political vaccine – the 2021 Scottish Government election with an increased majority of SNP candidates returned.

Ian Johnstone


One rule for them?

As recently as June of this year, the BBC reported that the First Minister had claimed Scotland was ‘’very close to eliminating’’ the virus. That forecast does not seem to have gone too well.

It is noticeable, too, that when more No-leaning Aberdeen had their spike, the FM hammered the city, perhaps with reason. When the latest lockdown measures were imposed, the incidences were very much higher in Glasgow, an SNP Yes-leaning stronghold, and account for half the total, but she chose not to single out that city and instead to impose an all-Scotland ruling. This included the Shetland Isles where numbers were miniscule.

It is hard not to conclude that there is one rule for the SNP-dominated areas of Scotland and another rule for everywhere else

Alexander McKay


Mental health patients need rights, too

There’s no doubt that personal strengths and inner resolve have been severely tested over recent months due to Covid-19. Stresses and anxieties have understandably risen following the imposed restrictions on personal freedoms. While media focus has been on the difficulties experienced by those who ordinarily enjoy an untroubled existence, there has been an even greater reduction of civil liberties for those detained under a section of the Mental Health Act.

Under the erroneous description of mental health, psychiatrists forcibly reduce personal freedoms to an even lower and degrading level. It’s a frightening experience for someone who was in need of a little care and attention but who instead got a locked door and a syringe. It would be more accurate to say the psychiatric industry is the provider of mental illness, not mental health.

By chemically restraining a person with powerful mind-altering drugs, psychiatrists are creating a situation where a person is vulnerable to even more mental and physical difficulties due to the effects that go hand-in-hand with prescribed psychiatric drugs.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has set forth a code by which it aligns its activities and purposes. Its Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights articulates the guiding principles and standards against which psychiatric human rights violations are investigated and exposed.

Those who are detained and drugged should have the right to full disclosure of all documented risks of any drug or ‘treatment.’ If a vulnerable person was made aware of the fact that prescribed drugs could cause violence, aggression, suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviour, he or she should have the right to refuse.

While psychiatrists claim benefits of the drugs outweigh the risks, it’s difficult to comprehend anything worse than suicide. The right to refuse however is often overridden by psychiatrists who use detention laws to carry on regardless.

To rub salt into the wound, if things go wrong and the person does take their own life while on the drugs psychiatrists blame the person’s mental condition instead of their own prescribing habits. Accountability is the key word.

It’s therefore important that anyone caught in the mental health matrix gets a listening ear and a helping hand and the opportunity to exercise his or her rights. This may not align with the psychiatric ideology, but it’s a humane approach that has the potential to give a vulnerable person confidence rather than forcing them into drugged submission.

Brian Daniels

Citizens Commission on Human Rights (United Kingdom)