I’m a great fan of Aesop’s Fables, those tales of morality from the ancient Greek storyteller. Such simple yet colourful stories, each one with a valuable lesson woven into it. One of my favourites is The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and it’s almost scary how relevant that particular fable can still be today…
After liking and commenting on a friends ‘coming-out’ as an independence supporter yesterday, a friend of theirs ‘engaged’ in the thread by simply stating ‘Vote NO!’, before sharing the picture below. A well constructed and thorough argument, I’m sure you’ll agree.
As I found the picture to be little more than a vessel for empty rhetoric, I looked up the website in the bottom corner: aforceforgood.org.uk
Not previously knowing the site, but vaguely recognising the name of its owner, Alistair McConnachie, I wondered why it sent little alarm bells ringing.
Mr McConnachie, as some will already remember, recently registered as an official campaigner in the referendum – in the same way as Yes Scotland and Better Together have had to do.
Mr McConnachie is also, for those who don’t know, a former UKIP candidate and, more importantly, a living, breathing holocaust denier:
“I don’t accept that gas chambers were used to execute Jews for the simple fact there is no direct physical evidence to show that such gas chambers ever existed… there are no photographs or film of execution gas chambers… Alleged eyewitness accounts are revealed as false or highly exaggerated.” (source: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/feb/27/uk.race)
Much has already been said about McConnachie’s self-involvement in the campaign, and this blog post isn’t about him or his clearly staggeringly vile opinions.
Anyway, I went back to my friend’s thread and very politely – and quite deliberately so – shared the above information. I even went so far as to include ‘Just a heads up’ to show that I wasn’t judging this person for sharing the picture – it could have very easily been a complete oversight, after all.
‘This is so typical of cybernat abuse!’, came his eventual response, or very similar at least – I can’t quote word for word as our mutual friend has since deleted the entire thread, most likely through shame.
He then shared his astonishment that I had attempted to label him personally as ‘a Nazi sympathiser’.
I’m sorry… what!?
I asked if he was aware of where the picture came from, shared the above quote, and said ‘Just a heads up’ – that was it. Polite and courteous, I thought.
But this, apparently, constituted ‘cybernat abuse’, and a serious and incorrect accusation from myself.
We’re all aware of the mass media coverage of the responses of a few independence supporters to the news that JK Rowling donated money to Better Together – mass media coverage that was oddly lacking when, for example, the Weirs were abused for donating to Yes Scotland.
But it’s clear that the unionists have merely switched from Project Fear to Project Poor Wee Victim. It’s the same fact-free diet of baseless assertions and claims, but now they’re defenceless wee lambs, cowering in their straw house from the Big Bad CyberNat.
I’m obviously not condoning any abusive tweets, and many, including Jim Sillars, have already made clear that such bullying is totally unacceptable. When people ARE abusive – and a few have been, on both sides – let’s rightly show them up for what they are. There is and can be no place in this debate for that kind of behaviour.
But this constant self-declared victimhood from the No camp is totally unacceptable. I’ve been on the end of it myself now a number of times – each incident blown out of all proportion, with ‘cybernat’ and ‘abuse’ thrown into the mix.
People read headlines, and they sink in, at some level. They very rarely look deeper, to discover what the actual facts are. When a unionist wrongly cries wolf, we should be saying ‘Hang on a minute…’, and calling them up on it. We shouldn’t be wasting hours over it, but we should make it clear that no abuse or bullying has actually occurred.
Remember that the boy who cried wolf did, in the end, lose all of his sheep…