words are powerful things
A ‘funny’ thing happened to me today.
Sitting in my car (bedecked with a better together sticker) in a car park waiting for my (undoubtably) better half to get a missing ingredient for tomorrow’s tea (second time we had been at the shops tonight) , I was given the finger, backed up with a call of ‘independence ya bass!’
Hmmm, I thought, (Ok, I thought Eff off) that will work to convert me to your argument. Then I decided to break my long fast of blogging and comment tonight.
Now, before anyone has a apoplectic fit, I am not saying that these fine specimens are representative of the Yes campaign or the people involved in it. I am a politician and, as such, used to the ocassional barb. I don’t have thin skin (and need a wee lie down after such an event).
However, it got me thinking that things are not moving in the direction that most scots would accept as healthy. Online, we are often guilty of being a little acerbic or unkind about those who don’t share our views. The notorious Cybernats are often mentioned but there are lunatics on the No side too.
They say that culture flows from the top down (a bit like the brown smelly stuff) and we have become very much more unpleasant to each other on this very singular item. It is not surprising that the impact has been a widening out of the language and behaviours that we are seeing.
At Scottish Labour Party conference, a placard wielding Yes supporter waggled his homespun, mis-spelled, message at me. I was amused more than anything else but thought that on a sunny afternoon in March I would have been able to find many, many more interesting things to do had I been in his shoes.
Sadly, I expect that the idiocy will continue for the next nearly six months and then the tallying up will take place.
If you think it is getting hostile now, enjoy this period because it will get much worse (I expect).
Anyway, on September 19 (the morning after the night before) or whenever the decision is called, what then. If the count is close then half of the country will be mightly aggrieved and the wailing and gnashing of teeth will commence. Recriminations will abound and then the finger pointing will commence.
I expect No to win, and I am campaigning for that to be the case but there’s a long way to go.
Afterwards my main worry is that, as a society, we wont be able to look at each other (let alone talk sensibly to each other). It is hard enough now. Politically it will be carnage and at all levels theere will be spite and bile from those who have lost and smug, condescending triumphalism from the winners.
How we get over this will be a determining factor for years to come. Politics will be irrevocably changed for this generation of politicians.
Which of these words would you accept being called and not react negatively to?
Collaborator, traitor, so-called-scot, quisling, scoundrel, coward, Britnat, feartie
Swivel-eyed Nat, Sep, separatist, fantasist, Cybernat, tartan tory,
I would expect, not one of them. ( I kept them clean, but there are much worse). So why then are these flying around and hurled willy-nilly around the place (comment threads on news articles are a real eye-opener (or eye-waterer))? It is because those at the top have given the lead and the trooops have followed. The twitterspere and blogosphere are full of unpleasantness that is really unnecessary and unhealthy. The responses to those who dare disagree with the Yes (or No) campaigns are vitriolic and poisonous. Its time that the moderate voices spoke up and put these folks straight.
We are not debating with each other but sloganising each other. Utterly specious and I am sooo glad I am not undecided, or I would end up not undecided but utterly disgusted.
I didn’t get into politics to spend my time on the constitutional settlement. I did so to make things better in the town I represent and live in. No one gets elected to make things worse.
However, I have to accept that this question needs addressed and once it is answered I hope not to have to do it again.
Calling for people to be aware of the impact of their words would be pointless (and a bit hypocritical as I have ocassionally been less than measured in my utterances) but someone needs to start winding back the insults and jeers. Sadly, I think we are passed the point where much will change.
Playing the man (or woman) and not the ball is ingrained now.
174 days to go………