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Representation gets raunchy

We have to stop the patronising pandering to communities in the name of “representation”

Artillery Row

Where better to report a hate crime than your local sex shop? Purveying shelves of butt plugs and nipple clamps is surely the perfect distraction from the mental distress of hurty words and nasty looks. This might sound like the premise for a surreal comedy, but it is in fact an initiative by Police Scotland who have designated Glasgow sex shop Luke and Jacks as one of 411 Third Party Hate Crime Reporting Centres across the country. Other places where people can report hate crimes include a mushroom farm in North Berwick and a demolished office block in West Dunbartonshire.

It would be tempting to laugh this off as an embarrassing misstep, like those pictures that routinely circulate of police holding the leads of human pups at Pride parades and handing XR protestors cups of tea. But this is not just a tale of cringing incompetence and over-correction by the police — it is a troubling insight into how the laudable desire to protect human rights and dignity has metastasised into a celebration of fetish. 

When challenged as to the purpose of the scheme the police remained unabashed. A spokesperson explained in a statement that the centres have been used for “a number of years”, reasoning that:

In some cases, victims and witnesses of a hate crime may not feel comfortable approaching the police directly.

Under this fluffy statement lurks a horrifying assumption: if some sectors of the public don’t have faith in those charged by the state to protect them, either the police service is not fit for purpose, or they have a great deal of work to do to rebuild trust. Perhaps it’s cheaper to set up reporting centres than it is to work on the assumption that we each deserve to be policed and protected without fear or favour.

Staff at Luke and Jacks have apparently been given training to support those reporting possible hate crimes, though it is unclear what this entails. No doubt as a self-identified “LGBT+ friendly” space the shop owners, Ian Diamond and Drew Bigglestone, feel they are providing a necessary service. Indeed, they have hit out at the “misunderstanding” that the shop is “something sinister” and are at pains to point out that they don’t sell pornography. As an aside, one wonders how comfortable gender critical lesbians might be were they to report hate from transgender-identified men.

But the use of a sex shop for a public service is indicative of a lazy, and arguably homophobic, assumption. That by dint of their sexual orientation those who aren’t straight will feel comfortable in spaces surrounded by sex toys. It would be unthinkable to suggest that heterosexuals are more at home in an environment that reflected their own sexual proclivities; the idea that those offended by being called “breeders” could seek solace in the family planning aisle of Boots. 

In a statement, the police explained: 

Any business or organisation can volunteer to be a Third Party Reporting Centre and they reflect the diverse nature of our local communities.

But the diversity of communities is irrelevant; institutions ought to exist for everyone regardless of their protected characteristics. Pandering to the myth that people are only safe with others who share their outlook, characteristics or experiences is divisive and dangerous.

Police Scotland has also been widely mocked this week for its infantilising “hate monster” campaign, where young working-class white men are warned against succumbing to prejudice. With the finger-wagging piety of a primary school teacher, those at risk of causing hurty feelings are told “we know young men aged 18-30 are most likely to commit hate crime … They may have deep-rooted feelings of being socially and economically disadvantaged, combined with ideas about white-male entitlement.”

The data do show that young men are the most likely to commit crimes, but the implication that this is due to their race or class is far from certain. The inherent bigotry in tarring one demographic group as inclined toward hate has remained as unexamined as the assumption that those who identify as “LGBT+” are best supported by sex shops.

The approach of Police Scotland is troubling on many levels: not only does it depend upon the idea of a hierarchy of victimhood, but it elides what might be termed the male sex right with human rights. This is a symptom of a wider social sickness, where the demand to have largely male porn-inspired peccadillos embraced by the public is celebrated as the apogee of diversity and inclusion.

Scotland is the epicentre of the pornified “brogressive” agenda. It was only after a backlash this week that public arts funding was withdrawn from a live “dyke” sex show which was open to male performers. 

A Funding and Education Complex has developed around the poorly defined concepts of hate crime and diversity. And in a dizzying reversal, it is now apparently progressive to reduce people to stereotypes. Arguably, there is a very real need to combat hate within institutions but those charged with doing so are blind to their own role in perpetuating it.

The actions of Police Scotland have left satirists searching for content. What could be a more perfect reflection of pornified values of brogressive institutions than sex shops-cum-hate crime reporting centres? Today, it seems the concept of the male sex right has displaced the principle of universal human rights.

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