Scottish nationalism has spawned the ‘cybernat.’ Cybernats don’t argue a case robustly, they abuse their opponents online. If in doubt, search this blog for ‘cybernat.’ You’ll find ten references, some passing examples, one or two more extended analyses of the phenomenon.
Yesterday business (and unionist) blogger Kevin Hague appeared on a BBC Radio Scotland talk programme with Stuart Campbell, owner of the nationalist Wings over Scotland web site. If you want to get a flavour of what the two men are like without leaving this blog search again, this time for ‘Hague’ and then ‘Wings.’
As it happens I didn’t hear the discussion at the time although it is available online. I don’t believe the content matters too much for this post, although it does for other reasons. I want to discuss what happened after.
Following the broadcast, Mr Hague got what could properly be called dog’s abuse online. As I heard it at second-hand this started when Campbell asked his followers what they thought of his own performance. His question unleashed a combined torrent of support for Campbell and abuse of Hague. I’m sure Hague is pretty used to this sort of abuse (of which more anon). At some time during the evening he tweeted that, unusually, his wife had seen some of it and was upset. What decent person wouldn’t be? I won’t give examples here except the comment that Stuart Campbell made on Twitter shortly after midnight:
I should perhaps pause for a word of explanation in case you’re not aware of the characters involved. Kevin Hague is a decent man, an entrepreneur who blogs as chokkablog on matters primarily to do with the economics of independence/separation. If anything, his blog could be accused of being a little dry. He specialises in meticulous analysis of economic data and invariably includes a note in his posts to the effect that ‘if you spot a mistake in this let me know and I’ll correct it.’ If challenged on facts he will debate and if proven wrong, concede the point and amend his posts. It doesn’t happen often because it doesn’t need to. Campbell’s characterisation of him above is grotesque and plain wrong, although not untypical of his general approach to debate.
Never mind. What invariably happens when Stuart Campbell makes his view known on something is that his online followers pile in and support him. This indeed, I am sure, is at least half the reason he says what he does – to try and get up a deafening roar of disapproval to drown any opposing point of view.
So if, heaven forfend, you’ve thought of taking up cybernattery yourself here are a few pointers to success culled from this latest blitzkrieg.
- Be anonymous. It’s so easy. You can say what you like and no-one will know who you are. Some folk will call you a coward, but then maybe you are.
- Remember ‘It’s my side right or wrong.’ Even if it is wrong, concede nothing. This is something that stands above truth. This is destiny.
- Present an unwarranted assertion as fact, preferably by writing ‘#FACT’ after it, and when asked to provide evidence change the subject.
- If you do change the subject, as you will, consider the technique of ‘Whataboutery.’ I had an example in the discussion of all this yesterday. Someone declined to answer my straight question as to whether they thought what Hague had been subjected to was abuse, asking me in return ‘What about Wings or Salmond?’ I chuckled at the idea of Campbell’s innocence in the matter of abuse. As for Alex Salmond, he is a past master himself in the art of whataboutery.
- Don’t ever go on to a blog or web site to make a more extended comment, and if you do don’t make it a reasoned one. You’re probably not capable of understanding a reasoned technical argument and anyhow don’t want to.
- In the over-used sporting analogy, play the man not the ball. The abuse from Stuart Campbell above is a not untypical example (it only continued his tone on BBC Radio Scotland when he characterised Hague as a ‘dog food salesman,’ a snide aside based on one of Hague’s businesses: anyhow, it was too clever by half and would only have bemused most listeners).
- Like cowards and bullies everywhere, hunt in packs.
- When you say something demonstrably unfunny, which will be most of the time, add ‘LOL’ to your tweet.
- If in doubt, try to provoke by sheer unmitigated rudeness, as a cybernat (anonymous of course and with a grand total of nine followers) did yesterday when he called me – wait for it – a ‘sycophantic turd-gobbler.’
- When challenged on your abuse, respond ‘If you don’t like the heat get out of the kitchen. This is what it’s like.’ No, it’s not. It’s what you make it like.
- At some stage in your exchange, do be sure to call the other person ‘pal,’ ‘mate’ or by a familiar and unwarranted abbreviation of their first name, in Hague’s case ‘Kev’ (short cut if you’re going to tweet me – it’s ‘Rog’). You can typically do this with a final insult as you depart the scene.
All of this and more was evident in the online abuse yesterday of Kevin Hague. I do hope the idiots don’t put him off his continued excellent work. New GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) figures are due out soon and GERS is one of his special subjects. I look forward to his analysis of them and to the subsequent ritual denunciation of it by nationalists.
I should say more on his protagonist of yesterday, shouldn’t I? TBH, as the kids say, I CBA. He has plenty of misguided friends anyhow from his exile in the genteel city of Bath in England. Amongst them he numbers SNP councillors, MSPs and MPs. As I’ve said on a number of occasions before when cybernattery has been particularly obnoxious, it would be nice to have unambiguous condemnation of and action on this sort of stuff from our first minister. But then a lot of other things would be nice that I don’t expect to see in a month of Sundays.
PS 27/1/2016 – someone has pointed out to me that Glasgow SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter both follows and seems to enjoy friendly Twitter exchanges with Stuart Campbell. She is also first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s election agent.
Footnote. You’ll find Kevin Hague’s own (measured) analysis of his BBC radio exchange with Campbell on chokkablog, linked above – dated 26/1/2016.