Friday, 6 April 2012

Words Do Matter!

Do words matter all that much? Of course they do; the old adage "The pen is mightier than the sword" can only be appreciated when one reads the words of the great thinkers, philosophers, poets and writers that frequently attach themselves to great causes. The causes can be those concerned with freedom, either of the individual, a people or entire nations; alternatively they can be about ideas and society in general. Words can be used to enormous effect, to hurt, encourage, praise, denigrate, lie, dissemble or even tell the truth. The National Movement has been ill-served recently, by some SNP members, who either have no perception of the meaning of their utterances, are totally insensitive to the feelings of others or are too stupid to appreciate what the Unionists would make of their words. There have always been sick people who made sick jokes about road deaths, facial disfigurement or the misfortune of others. I never did get the humour and have not a clue what makes people like that tick. Fortunately, until the advent of the internet, their so-called humour tended to be inflicted only on the unlucky few to whom they could actually speak. This engine can now give them a world audience, which means the hurt they cause can be multiplied a thousandfold.

Only Annette Valentine and Lyall Duff can explain what possessed them to put their sick comments on the internet, but their SNP membership did not CAUSE them to do so. There is no causal connection between their party membership, their commitment to the cause of independence and their latest comments. What I would say however, is that the views most recently expressed by Duff, in particular, are unlikely to have been aired as an isolated example and, the question the SNP should be asking is, how the hell was he ever adopted as a candidate? Valentine's transgression was less serious perhaps, but no less hurtful for those afflicted with a cleft palate. The fact it was made at the expense of people who are extremely self-conscious about it, is far more important than any damage she may have caused the SNP's campaign and, if she fails to be re-elected as a consequence of her own stupidity, it will be just reward.

The faux outrage being expressed by the usual crop of Unionists, led by the Daily Mail, over the use by Mike Russell of the term "liberation", is something else again. Russell called for the "liberation" of Scotland from the Union; cue a collective attack of the vapours from the ususal suspects. Anyone who watches football on the TV will be well aware of the feigned injuries, in every match, the rolling around in "agony" of the over-paid, so-called stars of the modern game. The slightest contact by an opponent on any part of the body, is inevitably followed by hands thrown up to cover the face, then the total collapse to the turf as if all feeling and control of every limb had been completely destroyed. The rolling around, first several turns one way, followed by an equal number of turns the other way, accompanied by appropriate paroxysms of apparent agony, as evidenced by much screwing up of the face, will cease only after the referee has produced at least a yellow card but preferably a red one. The Unionist camp is rapidly approaching the point where it will have as much credibility as some of the "stars" who allegedly play our national sport. They are becoming a laughing stock as they assiduously seek the next scare story or the next affront, that will allow them to feign injury.

The Daily Mail gave us ample warning that it would oppose independence for Scotland with every means at its disposal and it has certainly kept to its word. Every day brings another scare story about what independence will mean for Scotland and almost every piece simply reeks with hypocrisy, as figures are manipulated or distorted to show how much worse off the people of Scotland will be. Every word uttered by a member of the Scottish government, every action by Ministers or ordinary SNP members, is presented in the worst possible light. Unionists regularly speak of "the cost of divorce", "separation" is inevitably preferred to "independence"; Nationalists are accused of seeking to "rip or tear Scotland out of the UK" and Armageddon is regularly predicted as the paper gleefully reports every promise of retribution on the newly independent Scottish nation/state, even to the ludicrous threat that we would be in danger of having our airports bombed by the Westminster government.

I have made this point before but I think it is time Scots started to take much more seriously, the way in which the English press and, unfortunately some of our own Scottish press, tend to portray Scots as subsidy junkies. Far too many of the modern SNP have tended to concentrate on the economic arguments for independence and, while they are important, they should not be allowed to become the most important. We set ourselves up to be ridiculed if our opponents see the whole debate dominated by questions about whether or not we are going to be better off. The argument should be turned around on the Unionists who argue we "cannot afford" independence. They should be asked at every opportunity to explain how it feels to believe they are living off the backs of English people less fortunate than themselves. More importantly, they should be asked to explain why they think that situation should be allowed to continue. They should be asked to explain what their demands do for their dignity and self-respect - if they have any.

There was a time when the words Paki or Chinky were not meant to be derogatory, pejorative or racist by the majority of Scots. My parent's generation used the term "nigger" to describe a colour and any black dog had a good chance of being called Nigger, as was Guy Gibson's black labrador. No one would dream of using any one of those words now, unless they intended to be racist or derogatory. Interestingly, Taffy and Mick or Paddy are thought to be derogatory but Jock is not. There was a time when Jocks was used to describe Scots soldiers and was more often than not used by the men themselves, although I always tended to see the term as being slightly condescending with connotations of class consciousness, when used by officers in Highland regiments. When Colin Mitchell - "Mad Mitch" - spoke about his Jocks after coming out of the Crater district in Aden, the term was laden with pride and affection.

Now, the term is more often than not used as a term of derision, as in "whinging Jocks" or "subsidy-junkie Jocks" and if that terminology were used of any other racial group - as in "whinging Paki" there would be an outcry, with the Daily Mail leading the charge. Recently when I tweeted about this, Thomas Lazarowicz said he did not think there would be many people would see "Jock" as racist and perhaps he is right, it won't be considered racist unless Scots become offended by its use. I intend to be offended each and every time I see or hear it used in that fashion. I also intend to be offended every time I read of another scare story in the Daily Mail or every time I see another attempt by journalists to re-write the history of the National Movement. Words and their mis-use is too important to be allowed to go unchecked.

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