Being pecked to death by an angry chicken

Yesterday the Sunday Herald did something that no other newspaper in the UK has ever done before – it carried an article exposing the online activities of the numerous Unionist Twitter trolls. The mainstream media has until now ignored the swearing, threats and abuse originating from those who support the Union, preferring to concentrate on the portrayal of independence supporters as the agents of an evil nationalist cult, beardy blue face painted Minions in kilts but without the movie deal. While I am glad that a major publication has finally pointed out the obvious – that people are rude on the Internet – I can’t help but thinking that it’s all a bit petty.

Well I say “a bit”, which is like saying that the Labour party in Scotland and dinosaurs are a bit extinct, or that Gordon Matheson is a bit of a car park attendant. But seriously, why should anyone care what a random punter says on Twitter? Although you can understand why Blair McDougall might care, it’s not like he’s got anything else to do with his time. He was appointed as an advisor to Jim Murphy, but now his job description is “waiting for jotters”.

You could quite easily say that being a bit petty is what Twitter is all about. Twitter is the sound-bite generator of the Internet. On Twitter you get 140 characters to express yourself, so you’re not going to get subtle and nuanced, it’s not bloody Tolstoy. You get LOLZ and abbreviations. You get gross simplification and childishness. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get funny one liners and you can guarantee there’s a lot of pictures of cute kittens. It’s a bit like Reporting Scotland without the laughs or the hotline to Labour party press releases, only you’re not charged £145 a year for the privilege and it’s easier to ignore the fitba references.

And occasionally, but thankfully rarely, you get really nasty individuals who vilify and traduce, abuse and traduce, post people’s home addresses and threaten them – usually women – with violence and rape. This sort of behaviour is of course illegal and it is a criminal offence. But what the Murphoid remnants of the Labour party have been trying to do is to conflate the robust expression of political opinion with criminal threats to hunt down a woman and rape her. They’ve been engaged in a deliberate campaign to leech on the very real abuse faced by some people on the Internet and sook oot what sympathy they can from it. And the mainstream media has been egging them on.

We are where we are because the mainstream media has made such a big play of supposed abuse by independence supporters and ignored the abuse originating from Unionists. The result is that you can read just about any report on Scotland in the majority of the UK press and it’s like being pecked to death by an irate chicken, only with a lower IQ and a greater amount of hysteria. Although on reflection that’s being unfair to chickens. Chickens don’t know how to lie. Half the time what is carried in the media about Scotland is an outright falsehood. If the lying lurid headlines splashed all over the front pages ever do get corrected, it’s in tiny print in an inside page, hiding below an article about breast enlargement.

And that’s even before you venture into the comments section, where there’s a den of spittle flecked invective and hatred which would make the average Twitter user rush to cuddle a Minion in comfort. The real issues are lost in a flurry of net curtain twitching and finger pointing. Supporters of the Union don’t even address the fundamental contradiction lurking at the very heart of their own argument, it’s never been pointed out to them by the press that feeds the flames of hatred and disdain.

Let’s accept, for the sake of argument, that Scotland is a basket case which requires the UK in order to keep it from the fate of Greece. Whose fault is that then? Sure as hell it isn’t the SNP who have had their paws on the levers of macroeconomic policy for the past century or two. But apparently we’re better off remaining under the tender administrations of the maliciously incompetent idiots who have brought about this lamentable state of affairs – reducing what could have been a prosperous northern European country with an embarrassment of natural resources to penury and dependency. That’s the core contradiction at the heart of the Unionist argument, and by ignoring it, all that is left is the childish idiocy of finger pointing on Twitter. Pooling and sharing my arse. So having infantilised and trivialised the debate, then they complain when they’re not taken seriously.

They have chosen to infantilise and trivialise the debate on Scottish independence, and by extension fostering the notion that independence is itself an infantile and trivial idea. The underlying message is that if you want Scottish independence then you’re trivial, you’re obsessed by something that is unimportant and meaningless. And this tells us what the Union thinks about Scotland. It’s Scotland that is trivial and unimportant. It’s not about self-determination. It’s not about democracy. It’s not about achieving a cohesive and fair society, redistributing wealth and land, or social justice and equality. It’s all about rude names on Twitter and the pursed lips of disapproving prudery.

I want to live in a country which is taken seriously by its politicians and opinion formers, a country which is important to those who take the decisions about its future, a country which is central to the policies of those who determine its economy. But apparently that’s too much to ask for in a Scotland which is a part of the UK.

When we get independence we can at least remedy these things. We can have politicians we can hold to account if they don’t treat us like adults. But we’re probably going to be stuck with a media which trivialises everything unless we build a new one for ourselves.

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34 comments on “Being pecked to death by an angry chicken

  1. […] Being pecked to death by an angry chicken […]

  2. The Vole says:

    Reblogged this on The Orkney Vole and commented:
    Aye – the Dug barks true.

  3. handclapping says:

    ” The real issues are lot”s of lost “s”s!

  4. Paul Garbett says:

    Thanks again Paul – a real blinder this time that has prompted another donation. As to the content you hit the nail right on the head – Twitter is Twitter, Labour is Labour and the mainstream media should be embarrassed.

  5. Nana Smith says:

    Truly excellent that is all.

  6. diabloandco says:

    Glad you are there and hope both you and the dug enjoyed your holidays.

  7. Willie John says:

    Perhaps an edit? Delete first word of last paragraph and insert “When”.

  8. This union’s crap. Let’s slash the seats! 😉

  9. mary docherty says:

    That must have been a hard wan to write .Thanks for the insight !!Cheers !!

  10. Mikewr says:

    Nailed the economic argument
    Great blog.

  11. Itchybiscuit says:

    Mind you, having trawled the channels yesterday and today the impact on the news cycle seems to have been negligible. I felt sure that the brillo pad would have something to say – maybe he waited until all the ‘Jocks’ were distracted by Sunday Politics Scotland?

    All in all, it was a damp squib of a dossier which doesn’t even have the explosive power to blow (Mc)Dougall the Dog’s nose. Roll on 2016 brothers and sisters. :o)

  12. macart763 says:

    And that’s political discourse in today’s UK in a nutshell.

    Couldn’t agree more Paul. I think we all want to live in a country where the politicians care for and serve the people. Its not much of an ask for what they receive in return from us.

    What we have are self serving, disingenuous sociopaths who seem to take an inordinate pleasure in misleading, using and abusing their own people for personal and party profit. They think nothing of lying to us, manipulating us, setting us one against the other and all for what? Just what has their behaviour gained for themselves, their media and their system of government other than our eternal contempt? What have they done to us in pursuit of their ‘game’? They have no imagination, no empathy, no vision and no soul.

    I don’t understand why people behave this way and pray I never do.

    • Saor Alba says:

      You said it in the first sentence of your second paragraph macart.
      It is for their own “personal and party profit” that they behave in this way.
      Your description of them is deserving for their behaviour.

      These people lie so much that they don’t even think they are lying any more.
      When they lie, they do not even hear their own lie.

      I am no longer shocked by the malevolence that emanates from the different branches of the Tory party in Wasteminster and in Caledonia.

  13. jdman says:

    This is a truly brilliant post and highlights the infantile attitude being displayed towards the most serious subject we’ll ever have to deal with, who should govern Scotland us or our neighbour?

  14. arthur thomson says:

    Welcome home and it has obviously given you renewed clarity. I think this is the most profound post you have written – it explains so much. Then again you have written such profound stuff and I have such a limited memory that is probably just on a par with other brilliant pieces you have written. Thank you.

  15. Mosstrooper says:

    Nail, head, hit. As evidence of the pathetic argument(s) put up by the unionists I present the following; when out with my thirteen year old grandson (a firm believer in independence ) we were talking about some of the financial implications of independence and he was making good points. “Where did you get your information” from the National and the internet replied he. Good for you I told him then he floored me by his next words. when he said ” I was reading the National and my dad saw me and said that he didn’t know nationalists could read.”

    This man is a British nationalist, who denigrates those of a different faith but never goes to church has Rangers regalia around his house yet never goes to a game.and venerates the queen and says he loves Britain as his country.yet thinks it is OK to insult the intelligence of his son who dares to have a different opinion.

    On the plus side his wife, my daughter, is a member of the SNP and is a staunch nationalist, goes the her local Church of Scotland. and doesn’t have a biggoted bone in her body. As I’ve said my grandson reads the National and believes in his country so I think we have him outnumbered.

  16. Jan Cowan says:

    Brilliant piece, Paul. Should be printed in The National.

  17. Steve Asaneilean says:

    Wow! Just wow!

  18. William Pirrie says:

    your best blog yet

  19. I agree with Jan Cowan. Not only should it be printed in the National it should be printed in all the main stream media except the Daily Mail. I wouldn’t want to ruin your reputation.

  20. macart763 says:

    This needs to be spread wide and the ramifications understood loud and clear.

    58 for FFA and 504 against.

    • hektorsmum says:

      Bleeding angry Mac, so angry I have not watched or listened to it.

      • macart763 says:

        I wouldn’t were I you. I saw the vote, the cheering and the laughter from the opposition benches and it didn’t make for good viewing. An empty chamber, but for the pro Scotland benches, right up until the vote and then the celebrations.

        I don’t think there’s any doubt left is there? Scots, their representatives and their aspirations are deemed second class by all Westminster oriented parties. Take a wild guess at which three Scots voted against FFA (no prizes for guessing correctly).

        But just to be absolutely clear, no FFA, powerhouse parliament, no devo to the max, no near federal solution, no permanence of the Scottish parliament protected and enshrined in a UK constitution. Our representation mocked and disregarded, our wishes for significant governmental change and progress mocked and disregarded.

        I’d say that pretty much kills the vow stone dead, wouldn’t you?

        Yet they had a damn good cheer.

        I just wonder what they think they’ve won?

  21. mo Mhorag says:

    Thanks for that macart, it says what I was going to say, only better.

  22. hektorsmum says:

    Where would Labour be without the MSM, still in bed I think. Where would the MSM be without the Labour Party, nothing to write about I think.
    Not being on twitter I only lurk and I am happy with that situation.
    Paul condenses things better than anyone but even he needs more characters than you get on Twitter, and only Twits on the whole, drunk twits tweet rubbish.

  23. Scott says:

    I wanted to share an experience I had over the weekend. Firstly, I am a SNP Supporter and I also live in London. I’m also out of the closet with all my English friends about my support on Scottish independence. I know, who would have thought an SNP member could have English friends! When I do get on to the subject of Scotland with them, I get the odd rolling of the eyes and the maybe some banter, but that’s about as much as it gets, I’ve never experienced any animosity because of my political preference. My first taste of hostility on the subject came this Saturday and the abuse wasn’t by an English person, but by a Fellow Scot! I was out enjoying London Pride and I was approached by one of our own. He happens to be of the blue persuasion. He said, I bet you and your party are happy with the way the general election went, To which I replied, sure. All very pleasant to start with, then came the panda quote to which I sure you’re all aware of … Scotland, Panda’s and Conservative MP’s and so on… He then changed tack as he wasn’t getting the response he craved, he became more aggressive and proceeded to call the SNP Nazis and likened them to the BNP, the only difference was in the lettering. The BNP and the SNP are the same he proclaimed, so as everyone around us could hear! He said this in front of about seven of my friends (All English). I just stood in utter silence and open mouthed, I think all of us did to be honest. I was actually lost for words. I just gave a long stare and walked off. Followed by my English friends, we regrouped and carried on enjoying the afternoon. The MSM have a lot to answer for and so have a very small proportion of our society for being taken in by this propaganda, I’m so angry that these newspapers get away with printing lie after lie and are never brought to task!

    • If you get a chance, the next time your friend pops off, ask him his opinion on the McCrone Report, FFA v Devomax (trick question) and basically anything that requires a smidgen of knowledge beyond the Daily Mail’s drip-feed screaming.

      While I don’t always get liked by folk on-line for having my point of view, the history and the facts are hard to get round. There will be differences on policy or means, but it pains me to see educated people take the views they do. They invariably tend to be people with something to lose, rather than people with an open mind. They crave the ammo to see off the SNP (not a chance!), and to hell with the economy. They are doing fine anyway, after all. They’ll survive another 10 years of recession and austerity.

      Notice how unionists role out the low oil price, but ignore the last 30-40 years of oil. “That’s all past”, they say. Well if it’s past, and there’s nothing left, and Scotland really is in deep poo, why does Westminster hold onto us, and at the same time prevent us from tailoring our economy to suit us (and the exchequer, ultimately)? Why?

      There’s no sane reason for any of it. Either they can afford the most expensive gloat in history, or we’re worth a few bob yet. I wonder if it would be that a smaller neighbour might (rather than will – I am open minded) run their economy better, and basically prove that the waste and mismanagement is huge (and is probably intentional, legal skimming of the tax take).

      Och, sorry to use WGD’s site for a wee rant…Twitter just doesn’t cut it sometimes. :))

  24. Sandra Stewart says:

    This is amazing piece of writing. I will be pointing cynics and supporters to it, after I have made my donation.

  25. kat hamilton says:

    after the stunning win of the snp at the general election it now feels like our aspirations and hopes have taken a nosedive despite the articulate and capable 56 fighting our corner. the medias demonisation of everything of an indy stance is truly stomach churning. unique situation globally where a countries own citizen vote against taking charge of its affairs. bottlers indeed as the irish have said.

  26. Iain says:

    I think there is some logic in the way Unionists and MSM are attacking Pro Yes / SNP side in regard to the internet. It became obvious during the referendum and since that the internet is the medium through with the Yes side has an advantage, it is a mechanism that has been used successful to provide an alternative viewpoint and lampoon much of the output of the Unionist dominated mainstream. As a result I think we have seen the development of the concept of the ‘cybernat’ (code for: evil / bigot / racist == SNP == independent Scotland == bad) and to me the target of this is not the online community but those with limited experience of being online i.e. those many in society who still look to the MSM, BBC and newspapers for information. I believe they want to discredit online information sources so that their key target group becomes more resistant to any alternative messages thus protecting and projecting the Unionist world view and at the same time protecting their own commercial interests. As such I think it is very important to resist such claims and equally important that we try and create and support our own MSM media.

    • No worries Iain. The younger generations have little fear of social media. Time will change things.

    • douglasclark says:

      Would be fair enough if we weren’t pretty constrained in what we say? I was introduced to commentary through Which you’d think was a site devoted exclusively to whether there are wee green men or not?

      To the contrary, it is a site that let, no longer, everyone say anything and moderated it. I learnt a huge amount from it. For instance, that the USA did not think that there was a treaty after GW1, and, as far as they were concerned, it was still an ‘open’ war.

      I also learned, from the same source, that Russia won WW2,

      Neither of these ideas were convenient, and were hotly contested, but within fairly civilised bounds.

      It is that freedom of expression that I admired about the American model. That you could say what you thought and then be shot down by people that do not think slavery is a good thing. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, those agin slavery outnumber those that are pro.

      As long as we remain steadfast, and as more and more folk see this as their first point of contact for opinion, we win.

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