Strange, is it not, that we rarely if ever hear anybody claim that being abusive and obnoxious will put people off voting No. The Ross Greers and the Cat Boyds and the Lesley Riddochs and the Angela Haggertys and the Robin McAlpines all regularly mount their virtual pulpits to berate the ordinary folks of the Yes movement on their sinful ways. And now Carolyn Leckie joins the ranks of this priesthood of righteous radicals lecturing us about how we’re doing it all wrong. But British nationalism’s posse of amateur propagandists isn’t subject to the same preachiness.
Apparently, we’re all talking to the wrong people, about the wrong things, in the wrong places, at the wrong times. Most unforgivably of all, we’re talking in the wrong way. We’re using the wrong language. We’re not using the approved form of words.
Like an army of dour, dust-dry and domineering dominies, these self-appointed gatekeepers of the cause and guardians of the one true word loom over us, crow black and brimming with cant. Armed with the tawse of intolerance and the waggy finger of denunciation, they pursue their joyless mission to purify the Yes movement. To drive out the demons of honest anger and robust rhetoric. To criticise, castigate and condemn those who do not conform to their notions of what is fit and proper.
According to this tutting, clucking clique, we must constantly walk on eggshells. We must treat the population of Scotland as if it were a collection of delicate hot-house flowers poised to wither and wilt if we utter a word out of place. Which is problematic for anybody who wishes to engage on behalf of the independence campaign because it seems that pretty much anything we say is likely to be denounced for bringing the Yes campaign into disrepute. The list of expressions which are liable to put people off voting Yes is apparently endless.
So isn’t it odd that there is no equivalent list of words that are likely to dissuade people from voting No? The prevailing convention seems to be that British nationalists are free to be as “abusive and obnoxious” as they wish, while those who write and speak on behalf of the independence cause are constrained by rigid rules. We are subject to proscriptions defined and dictated by our opponents but enforced by a pompously censorious elite within the Yes movement.
What towering arrogance is it that declares a perspective invalid just because the terms in which it is expressed are disapproved of? Much of the commentary being hysterically denounced as improper by the British state’s propaganda apparatus and Yes movement’s self-deputised internal police force is, for many if not most of us, the language of everyday discourse. It’s just the way we talk.
I’ve a wee message for what somebody very aptly termed the “Holy Wolfie Smiths of the Byres Road Cappuccino Commie set”.
Don’t dare tell people their views are not legitimate for no better reason than that they choose to deploy the odd expletive!
Don’t presume to belittle and denigrate those who may be expressing themselves in the only way they know how!
Don’t dismiss perfectly justifiable anger at injustice just because it resorts to a limited vocabulary!
Don’t ever try to exclude people on the grounds that don’t meet some arbitrary standard of erudition!
And for f*** sake stop feeding the totally contrived British nationalist narrative of ‘cybernat abuse’. That, as much as your high-minded moralising, is what really might undermine the broad and inclusive Yes movement.
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