Picture credit: Police Scotland

Police Scotland must stop patronising the public

The Hate Crime And Public Order Act will waste the time of the police and endanger the freedoms of the public

Artillery Row

You may know this thing here, it’s the Hate Monster. When you’re feeling insecure, when you feel angry he’ll be there, feeding off the emotions. Getting bigger and bigger till he’s weighing you down.

He’ll make you want to have a go at somebody: a neighbor; somebody on the street; security guy on the door; somebody in the chippy; your taxi driver. He’ll make you want to vent your anger.

The Hate Monster wants you to feel that you need to show you’re better than them.


Before you know it, you’ve committed a hate crime. Doesn’t make you feel better though, does it? Maybe for a minute but then you just feel worse, don’t you? Because the hate just hangs around like a bad smell.

But it doesn’t need to be like this. You’re better than that. You’ve got all this energy so do something something positive with it. The Hate Monster doesn’t like that. In fact he hates it. 

So go on be good to yourself. Don’t feed the Hate Monster.


I’ve anglicised the script because the insincere colloquialisms were too irritating to type in full

Believe it or not, the above transcript is not taken from some god-awful educational play aimed at bored fourteen-year-olds. It’s from a public service video on Police Scotland’s official Youtube channel. Watching it is worse than it sounds on paper. I’ve anglicised the script because the insincere colloquialisms were too irritating to type in full (“Disnae make ye feel be’er does it?”). 

The Hate Monster — who, despite his fearsome name, resembles a furry red Minion — actually debuted almost a year ago but slipped under the radar (the ongoing SNP financial scandals were distracting us). He has recently, however, become a minor celebrity after journalist Alex Massie drew attention to the video in the run up to the much-derided Hate Crime And Public Order Act, fittingly due to be enforced on April Fool’s Day.

The bill was passed almost three years ago but never quite made its way fully into law because, in the words of one lawyer I spoke to, “The police don’t know what the hell to do with it”. That seems to have changed though, with Police Scotland now asserting they will investigate every alleged hate incident. Investigating actual crime, it seems, will be put on the back burner for the foreseeable. (Sorry about your burgled house, Madam, a sticker with the dictionary definition of “Woman” on it has been discovered on the side of a phone box). The bill is riddled with problems but by far the most controversial element is the expanding the definition of hate to include speech that “stirs up” hatred towards race, religion, sexuality, disability or transgender identity (we lucky ladies are getting our own problem-ridden Misogyny bill at a later date). This places the perceived hatred in the eyes of the beholder and disregards intent: if it “feels” hateful, then it will be investigated. Presumably the courts will determine whether the law was actually broken. Oh, and you can be investigated over things said in the privacy of your home.

Back to the Hate Monster, who has become the unofficial mascot for the bill. The puerility of the character is so audacious, I wonder if whoever dreamt him up was consciously trying to make him beyond parody. Not that it’s stopped Scots having a hearty laugh at the character’s expense, from photoshopping him into parliamentary photos to clamouring for Hate Monster merchandise (a “Don’t Feed The Hate Monster” bin is my personal favourite idea I’ve seen). Yet while I’ve chortled along with everyone else, there’s something about the Hate Monster I find quite contemptuous.

As much as the Hate Monster may look it, he was not designed via a primary school drawing competition. He was created by PR staff on the part of Police Scotland, who thought this was an appropriate marketing campaign for adults. To get to the bottom of how such a patronising campaign could be thought up, one has to ask who they envisaged it having some kind of positive effect on? The information on Police Scotland’s website indicates a notable bias towards a certain sex, class and race. The people who are apparently “Most likely to let the Hate Monster in” (actual wording) are “young men between 18-30”, who “may have deep-rooted feelings of being socially and economically disadvantaged, combined with ideas about white-male entitlement.”

It’s been pointed out that under the flimsy criteria of the pending Hate Crime bill, the campaign’s singling out of young men, allegedly poisoned by notions of their white entitlement, could qualify as “stirring up” hate (the police have promised to investigate every claim, remember!). In honesty, I could think of nothing more symbolic for the state of modern progressivism than the creators of an anti-hate campaign being investigated for hate over a problematic cartoon character. This aside, the tonal mess of the campaign speaks of a risible disdain towards this demographic. Under the section titled “Hurt People, Hurt People” (comma wrongly used), it reads:

Committing hate crime is strongly linked to a range of risk factors including economic deprivation, adverse childhood experiences, substance abuse and under-employment. Those who grow up in abusive environments can become addicted to conflict.

What rigorous insight and compassion, especially right off the back of implying the young men growing up with such adversity are likely motivated by their white privilege. It’s also monumentally classist as pointed out by former Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont: “The notion that hate is driven by economic disadvantage insults all who support their families and communities despite poverty. And it ignores the hatred exercised by those who are financially secure.”

The Hate Monster campaign brings to mind another misguided Police Scotland anti-hate campaign. This one was dreamt up in 2020 in collaboration with One Scotland, a division of the Scottish Government. In this campaign, best described as “Letters To Haters”, aggressively-worded posters were put up all around cities, addressing racists, homophobes, transphobes, disablists (I think they meant “ableists”) and plain old bigots, like so:

Each letter was signed “Yours, Scotland”. Take that all you simmering hatemongers who are tarnishing our otherwise morally superior country! I have to hand it to whoever came up with this campaign — it epitomised the combination of patronising yet bulletproof virtuosity of Scottish exceptionalism under Nicola Sturgeon’s nationalist branding. Alex Salmond’s vision of an independent Scotland had many flaws and hypocrisies but he had the sense to leave the fine print of what a better, fairer Scotland looked like as much as possible to the imagination of the individual voter, placing his campaign’s focus strictly on the Scottish people having utmost say over who they were governed by. No longer subjected to (Tory) governments the majority voted against. 

Sturgeon’s — and now Humza Yousaf’s — SNP have a more specific idea of what Scotland should be and by extension, who the Scottish people ought to be. “Dear Haters” was a flattery campaign for paid-up members of Sturgeon’s tartan utopia, not a preventative one — those who harbour a genuine desire to harm people of a different race, sexuality or chosen gender identity are not going to be moved to change their ways by a scolding poster. Similarly, no young man with internalised rage is going to find anything to relate to in the Don’t Feed The Hate Monster campaign.

“Dear Haters” viscerally aimed to shame people (so much so that the “Dear Bigots” poster was removed for its perceived open hostility towards practicing Christians — who make up a third of Scots). What makes the Hate Monster campaign arguably more egregious, though, is the pretence of sympathy for those it’s targeted at; the skimming over major social issues faced by young men from impoverished backgrounds and cloying paternalistic plea to “C’mon, be good tae yerself”. A campaign that really wished to prevent young (white) men being driven to crime, hate speech or otherwise, would actually point them in the direction of opportunities, support and help provide them with role models. (I notice “fatherlessness” was omitted from the list of reasons young men are a particularly at-risk demographic for crime despite it being one of the main social factors.) 

Activists drunk on grievance and narcissism … have been granted open season to call the police on every online misgendering

The grim punchline to all this is that the demographic actually most likely to be charged under the Hate Crime bill is not young men but middle-aged women with reality-based views on biological sex. Activists drunk on grievance and narcissism who relish harassing such women (and gender critical men) have been granted open season to call the police on every online misgendering, every sacrilegious sticker or banner. Have a terfy aunt coming to your house for Christmas? Good news, if she starts any of her women’s rights nonsense you can call the polis on her and enjoy your turkey safe from her hateful concerns over self-ID.

It’s been said before but worth restating: this bill will help no one and harm many: ordinary Scottish civilians who hold heterodox views on contentious issues like gender identity or multiculturalism, young men who find themselves with a job-inhibiting criminal record for shouting something regrettable during an argument (it only has to be perceived as hateful, remember). Not to mention, the colossal amount of time-wasting and resentment it will result in for the officers on the beat trying to enforce this ridiculous law, who are overwhelmingly decent, dutiful public servants and not responsible for the appallingly shoddy legislation they’re being made to follow. 

Genuinely bigoted people obviously exist but this a law that will silence dissent, not tackle actual life-threatening crime. There is no endemic problem with “hate” within the Scottish electorate, however you wish to define it. There is however endemic contempt amongst the institutions that govern us.

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover