This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

When I was a teenager I was obsessed with The X Files. Fine, fine, I'm still obsessed with The X Files.

The episodes fit one of two categories – either a continuation of the long narrative arc of the show, or a Monster of the Week. The latter was a stand alone episode that told us much about the main characters while focusing on a single, terrifying supernatural entity.

If you'll allow a slightly clumsy metaphor, the way Scotland does its politics makes me think often of The X Files. Our political discourse is dominated by a fresh Monster of the Week, often twice a week, sometimes more.

Most recently, the much-derided Hate Crime Act was the demon on every tongue until events were abruptly overtaken by wood burning stoves. What a pivot. Who among us could have guessed that how we heat our homes might become a factional, pseudo-culture war issue?

Well, anyone who has been paying attention over the last five or so years. A contradictory mix of malaise and frustration has long infected the Scottish public, a public fed up of being told what they should think and being called bigots if they dissent. A public fed up of legislative wrangling that leads to bad law then repealed or blocked.

A public sick of feeling that their choices are being restricted without their consent, both at a national and a local authority level.

At a local level, an obvious example is the Glasgow low emissions zone. Instead of being a simple policy, thoughtfully enacted that would improve air quality in the centre of the city, it became a Monster of the Week – a poltergeist alleged to be damaging the night time economy, harming businesses, stymieing the taxi trade and on and on.

It should never have been a problem but it became a toxic issue, intertwined with the online conspiracy theories about 15-minute cities being a cover for the governments to lock us down forever.

The Herald: The low emissions zone in Glasgow should have been simple policy – instead it became grounds for toxicity and conspiracyThe low emissions zone in Glasgow should have been simple policy – instead it became grounds for toxicity and conspiracy (Image: Newsquest)
A so-called ban on wood burning stoves came as a surprise to former government ministers and residents alike. Kate Forbes, former finance minister, had a back-and-forth on social media with Patrick Harvie, the Green minister overseeing the changes.

The ban on wood burners in new build homes will disadvantage rural communities – or the ban on wood burners in new build homes is essential to help Scotland meet its net zero targets. Choose your fighter.

Read more:

Explained: Has Scotland banned wood-burning stoves?

The burner row becomes toxic because it speaks to the fissures between the SNP and their government partners the Scottish Greens; it picks at the very real sense in rural communities that the central belt cares none for its issues.

Hullabaloos ensue. Folk want wood burners, just as they want to rent out their properties as short term lets, just as they want to race their greyhounds. They don't want government micro-management and they certainly don't want it from this government.

From a starting point of advertising campaigns encouraging Scots to report hate crime, the Justice Minister Angela Constance had to come out and ask people to "resist" wasting police time. Of the near-8000 hate crime reports made in the first week, just 240 hate crimes and 30 non-crime hate incidents were recorded.

The Observer newspaper found that far right groups were agitating for supporters to make vexatious reports and it is logical that many more of the online reports will have been vexatious or mischievous in nature – from true bad actors and those who, however rightly or wrongly, felt that making a nonsense report was one way of taking a stand.

The Scottish Government's woes are all an issue of communication just as much as they are an issue of competence. Regarding legislation, the law is there to be interpreted by the courts but, on its face, it should be clearly understood. Yet Scotland grapples repeatedly with poorly communicated law.

Read more:

UnspunAnalysis: Can Bute House Agreement survive pressures of a general election campaign?

Former health secretary Jeane Freeman said last week that ministers were "caught by surprise" by the row over Scotland's new hate crime law. Why? Where have they been?

Issues are reduced to matters of identity because it is easier to tell stories than it is to appraise facts; emotion is simpler to express than dispassionate analysis.

Unfortunately, the monster is still hungry. We have, to look forward to, the forthcoming introduction of legislation specifically targeted at tackling misogyny. This has nightmare potential.

Get Scotland's top politics newsletter straight to your inbox.

This next war of words looks likely to be as vicious as any before it and an obvious pitfall is going to be how the Scottish Government chooses to define the word "woman" in the legislation.

Politicians need to come prepared with satisfactory definitions and a concrete defence, as well as a willingness to forensically examine the detail of the law. This specific dispute has been part of Scotland’s political narrative arc before, in the row over the Gender Recognition Reform bill.

Will any lessons have been learned or will this be yet another Monster of the Week? This isn’t a case for Mulder and Scully; a cynical mind already knows the answer.