Monday, June 16, 2014

Freedom and Tyranny

As some of you may be aware, Scotland is faced in September with a momentous decision in a referendum: whether to become independent or not to separate from the rest of the UK

The Scottish public has been 'deaved' ( to use a good Scots word combining the meanings of deafened, bored and annoyed) for months on end by politicians on the Unionist and Nationalist sides making claim and counter-claim, making promises and threats. Neither side seems to be offering truthful and transparent policies and it's tempting to scream, 'A plague on both your houses' and bury my head under a pillow.

A 'yes' vote will have far-reaching consequences, of course, and as a result feelings on both sides are running high.  In some cases, they've run out of control.

Many Scottish writers have come out in favor of independence.  Very few have declared for the Union but one exception is JK Rowling - and after her experience it's unlikely that any more will..

More than 80% of the funding for the Scottish National Party campaign - £5.5 million - has come from one couple who won multimillions on the EuroLottery;  they were subjected to some Internet abuse from rabid Unionists.  But when JK Rowling donated £1 million, and her support, to the 'No' side, the so-called cybernats took to the Internet in full cry with the vilest imaginable abuse.  'Prostitute' and 'whore' were two of the politer expressions used - and this came just after the young mother of a disabled child who had declared her support for the Union publicly was similarly attacked the day before.

The freedom the Internet gives ordinary people to speak out is a founding principle, and it's crucial in countries where political dissent is suppressed and people are persecuted for political opinion by tyrannical  governments.  But Internet trolls.are converting that freedom into a tyranny of its own.

It's both tragic and frightening that in my beloved Scotland, with its full-blown democracy, the country should be split  by hatred in this dreadful way. If this had taken place in the days when you had to sit down and write an anonymous letter if you wanted to threaten and abuse someone, when there weren't other people urging you on as you wrote, I can't believe that this frenzy would have been aroused.

Even families are split and quarrelling.  I can only hope when it's decided in September that both sides will accept the result, the wounds will heal and we can  get on with living together peaceably again.  If the result of the vote is independence, we probably will.  If it's a No - well, in the Scots phrase, I hae ma doots -.  I have my doubts.



Charlotte Hinger said...

How sad! I thought we Americans had a monopoly on political slaughter.

Aline Templeton said...

Sadly, no. This one's visceral. A mother I know has been in tears over the split in her once close and loving family.

Aline Templeton said...

Sadly, no. This one's visceral. A mother I know has been in tears over the split in her once close and loving family.