I would not claim that every inhabitant of Weegie land is incapable of stringing together a sentence that doesn’t contain words of a sexual nature, words moreover, that imply a violent sexual threat, nor that they cannot converse without explicit hand gestures, it is just that sufficiently large numbers of them are incapable of doing so that I fear for the future of conversation in that area.
In October, the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act will come into force. It commenced with the best of intentions. For the first time ‘consent’ was to be defined. It is defined as ‘free agreement’. This phrase seems to me to be as capable of 74 different meanings as the original term ‘consent’ was. Perhaps the lawyers just fancied a change of argument.
The Act makes a genuine gesture towards equality. Not that any transgendered person has so far been accused of rape, nor is it feared that there might be a rash of such cases, but just in case, ‘penis’ is also defined carefully to include the sort that you acquire whilst on holiday in Morocco; as is ‘vulva’ just in case it wasn’t yours originally.
“penis” includes a surgically constructed penis if it forms part of A, having been created in the course of surgical treatment, and
(a) the vulva, and
(b) a surgically constructed vagina (together with any surgically constructed
vulva), if it forms part of B, having been created in the course of such treatment.
Such forethought. Nae use Jimmy loudly declaring that it ‘wuura mae penis as entered the hen, it wurra that Tunisian fella I got it from’. Loophole duly closed.
Curiously, in a country which previously placed a man on the sex offenders list for ‘making sexual gestures’ towards his trusty Raleigh 5-speed superbike in the privacy of his own bedroom, the Act contains precious little protection for some of the more unusual recipients of sexual attention.
Far more concerning is the section on ‘communicating indecently’ – this goes much further than the English Act intending to cure the problem of electronic grooming. The Scottish Act prohibits a sexual written or verbal communication ‘by whatever means’ without the express consent of the recipient.
The architects of the Act have foreseen some problems, for they have provided a defence to those giving pregnancy advice, or even explaining the birds and the bees, who would otherwise have been caught under this act.
Since the offence is committed if the purpose is to humiliate, distress, or alarm the recipient, then shouting out ‘F*ck you, yer miserable Weegie bas*tard, I’ll sh*g yer Mam fer yer’, when the landlord throws you out at closing time, would appear to come within the remit of the Act.
The definition of ‘verbal communication’ also includes a ‘communication by means of sign language’ – which will include the Italian ice-cream parlour owner who is wont to grasp his forearm with his left hand and thrust his right arm upwards in a unmistakably sexual manner when you ask whether you might have 16 ice lollies for your mates and pay him next week.
Of more immediate concern, what are we to make of section (3) which says that the offence is committed if the purpose of enacting the words, or gesture are to ‘obtain sexual gratification’. Who is to decide what pleasure the writer obtained by penning his words? Where does that leave Obnoxio, for instance, with his ‘pleasuring myself with this fish’ blazoned across the top of his blog? Liable to 10 years imprisonment for communicating indecently under section 6 (1) or 10 years for causing a person to see or hear an indecent communication which gave him pleasure to write…….
We are fast moving towards the point at which every young man must not only carry condoms, but a printed consent form for witnessed signature before embarking on sexual intercourse, and now perhaps an extra form to cover the possibility that he might utter some sexual phrase in the heat of the moment……that is bad enough, but creating an act that outlaws every one of inhabitants of the sink estates round Glasgow every time they open their mouth…….I’m speechless.
The lawyers will have a field day.