Jack Fraser (letters, August 13) seems to suggest those in favour of free speech, or against cancel culture, are mandating race hate speech.

Given the Scottish Government’s Hate Crime Bill currently proceeding through parliament has been attacked from diverse groups including the Catholic Church, Humanist Society Scotland, UN legal experts, QCs, journalists and a range of individuals in the creative industries, presumably this narrative also applies to those opposed to the legislation.

This is nonsense.

The Hate Crime Bill as currently drafted has been criticised by advisors to the UN as having a potentially chilling effect on society and being impactful on free speech by creating a culture of silence more commonly seen in countries run by despots.

To put it more plainly, people self-censor to avoid being inadvertently accused of ‘stirring up hatred’, even if by proxy and without intent to do so.

The First Amendment in the US Constitution guarantees freedom of expression to its citizens by preventing government from restricting the press or rights of individuals to speak freely. The very existence of the Black Lives Matter movement is testament to this constitutional right.

If in Scotland we opt to remove the right of individuals and groups to express their views, however diverse, then we would find ourselves more akin to Belarus than our current democratic allies.

We would do well to heed the words of George Orwell which are chiselled into the wall outside BBC New Broadcasting House: “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Fraser Hudghton

South Crescent

East Saltoun