Section 28 hysteria

28th January 2000 at 00:00
THE increasingly frenzied arguments about Section 28, which started when the Scottish School Board Association objected to its planned removal by the Parliament, have shown no one in a good light. If this is to be the approach to any controversial issue under devolution, we are in danger of making fools of ourselves. The Prime Minister, instead of allowing himself to be dragged into the controversy, should have left it to the Scots to sort out. By intervening he gave it greater dignity than it merited.

Some lessons can be learned. The SSBA has been shown to be amateurish and unrepresentative. Churchmen would do well nt to insult the intelligence and professionalism of teachers. Businessmen and public relations consultants can destroy a good image faster than they can promote it. Secondary pupils tend to be more levelheaded than their elders.

We try to teach children tolerance and rational ways of confronting problems. Philosophy is part of the tradition in higher education. Yet supposedly sensible people, aided and abetted by sensationalist media, opt for hysteria. I shudder to think of the effect on young people of future moral controversies in our devolved system.

Colin Thomson

Royal Park Terrace, Edinburgh

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