Hate crimes or freedom of expression: Mr Bean raises his voice against a controversial law

Hate crimes or freedom of expression: Mr Bean raises his voice against a controversial law
© AP Photo / Jonathan Short

Actor Rowan Atkinson, who played Mr Bean, along with other actors, artists and activists have rallied against Scotland’s proposed the Hate Crimes bill (HC bill) because they believe it is an attack on freedom of expression.

“From my point of view (…) the second most precious thing in life is the right to express oneself freely (…) I have enjoyed free expression in this country all my professional life and I hope to continue doing so,” he said to the press.

He added that it is unlikely that he will be arrested by a law like this due to his public profile, but assured that his position was taken with those people who are not known, which makes them more vulnerable to losing their freedom of expression or being punished by the law.

The controversial bill proposed by the Scottish Secretary of Justice, Humza Yousaf, who has explained that this legislation is an important milestone in the fight against prejudice and that it can be possible without the need to censor freedom of expression.

“I have had discussions previously with Humanist Society about HC Bill and am committed to further engagement. A balance can be struck between ensuring protection (particularly for minorities) against hatred & protection of free speech – the two are not mutually exclusive!”, wrote.

Critics of the bill believe that every crime of “inciting hatred”, regardless of intent, can lead to an accumulation of trials until a maximum penalty of seven years, as published by the British tabloid The Sun.

A few weeks ago, Scottish Catholic bishops also warned that this Hate Crimes bill (HC Bill) could prohibit the catechism, as they would be exposing themselves to being fined and prosecuted for just citing the Bible. In addition, they agreed with the artists in considering that it is an attack against freedom of expression even in the religious sphere.