Saturday, 5 July 2014

Bad Education

Five-day sprint from Saturday through to Wednesday.  77 days of campaigning to go.

The days fair whizzed by, like when you’re under sedation at the dentist’s and weird speeded-up things keep happening you’d rather not know about.
I initially assumed that I was having trouble assimilating the week’s events because, like all Yes voters, I’m thick.  At least, that was what some propeller-head at Edinburgh University called Professor Emerita (hey, wacky surname!) was tweeting.  Then it turned out she was misquoting Professor John Curtice, although, in fairness, he opens his trap so often that, if he hasn’t come out with a particular piece of nonsense yet, he’s bound to get round to it some time.

Anyway, one “unreserved” but patronising apology later, the latest update from the groves of academe is that we’re not necessarily dim, merely ill-educated.  Although, entre nous, I’ve learned enough at the University of Life to know I can’t post batshit-crazy tweets that make me look like an arrogant dork and expect to have an easy time of things.  Just sayin’, Prof.

The Twitter goblins, clearly offshoots of the pesky critters that turn mild-mannered folks who enjoy a bit of gardening into raging psychopaths when behind a steering wheel, were perpetrating impish mischief in other places too.  Their machinations dynamited possibly the briefest political career in history, as newly-appointed Labour parliamentary candidate for Angus, Kathy Wiles, somehow felt compelled to post a picture that compared children gathering under a banner at a demo with the Hitler Youth.

“I was making a point about the dangers of using young children in campaigns,” explained Ms Wiles in a grovelling resignation tweet, as seething parents protested with a ferocity even the Courier couldn’t ignore.  Ah, we might have guessed, far too subtle for us uneducated dimwits!  Maybe she should offer some advice to HM Government, who jacketed their last propaganda outburst with a heart-tugging vision of the von Trapp family scampering across the heather to escape the wicked SNP.

Neither campaign educates its adherents in Twitter etiquette, although if they’re so toe-curlingly stupid that they need to be told “Don’t libel children” it’s a lost cause anyway.  As a species we’re still getting to grips with a tool that can instantly spout the unwanted contents of someone’s brain to every individual on the planet, but it’s been heartening to see pockets of self-policing appear.  

People of both indyref persuasions (that’s my token attempt at even-handedness, so enjoy!) are starting to flush out the dingbats, bozos, troublemakers and MI5 deep cover operatives whose “support” they need like a hole in the head.  It’s a filthy job, and the pay’s rubbish, so let’s applaud them, help them spread the word and not swither about blocking half-wits because we like the cut of their Twibbon.

In that context, and battening down the hatches for a retaliatory tsunami of whataboutery, I’d like to raise a teensy-weensy concern that this “SNP or other pro-indy group of choice are Nazis” meme seems to extend somewhat further than Ms Wiles’ galumphing tomfoolery.  Alistair Darling’s mumbled “blood and soil” brain-fart may not have represented explicit marching orders for saddoes who unaccountably view him as a role model, but it wasn’t exactly a cease-and-desist order either.

Nor is it just creepy Kenny in his clammy bedsit with six followers.  The recent Twitter activity of one prominent former Big Brother contestant, highly educated in polysyllabic grandstanding but with a kindergarten grasp of diplomacy, has been like waving a flamethrower about at a petrol station and yelling, “Haven’t hit any pumps yet, ya numpties!”

Of course, it’s all deliciously deniable if you take a soul-crushingly literal approach to language. “How DARE you insinuate that I said that?” hisses the perpetrator, rearing up like a startled mongoose, as his vulpine lawyer flaunts his education to demonstrate you ain’t got a leg to stand on.  It’s almost like there’s a new internet law – let’s call it Nodwig’s Law – where tweeters can get clean away with making references to the Nazis in any argument as long as they do it in a “Sally Bercow innocent face” kind of way. 

Hey, and you know what?  Someone on “our” side did exactly the same thing to Jim Murphy this week, somehow contriving to find a lame parallel between his “100 streets” tour and Hitler’s predilection for cruising around in open-top cars.  That’s plumb wrong as well, no bones about it. And unnecessary, since there are crate-loads of legitimate reasons to lob brickbats at Jim, as I hope to demonstrate in the not-too-distant future. 

Until then, let’s keep it decent and witty, folks.  Like the educated people we are.

1 comment:

  1. As the oldish saying goes: you always know the argument has gone as far as it could when one side resorts to equating the other with the Nazis.
    I wonder with what they terminated their arguments in the 19th century.