So, since I know my y’all back at home are so thirsty for political shenanigans because you just don’t get enough at this point in a quadrennium...
let’s have some overseas shenanigans!
This weekend, J.K. Rowling, known Twitter enthusiast and expert at getting asshole Twits told, also the author of some books you might have heard of, got into internet trouble.
What you need to know: Ms Rowling follows someone on Twitter who has a history of being an asshole and using gendered insults. They appear to have been friends IRL prior to Twitter becoming A Thing. While she does not retweet asshole tweets, she has retweeted some relevant political tweets he made in the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. She herself is also a high-profile opponent of Scottish independence, having donated millions of pounds to the No Thanks campaign.
Fast-forward to now, and in comes Natalie McGarry. She’s a member of Parliament and formerly the party whip for the Scottish Nationalist Party. She took Ms Rowling to task on twitter for being friends with the aforementioned asshole (whose name is, appropriately, Brian Spanner), and in the process, accused Ms Rowling of supporting misogyny. If that tweet had come from a non-MP, I’m 100% sure such a tweet would have been ignored, but it came from an elected public figure who doubled down repeatedly. In the end, Ms Rowling threatened to sue, unless Ms McGarry issued a public apology and retraction. As a result, many die-hard nationalists are losing their damn minds and calling for a boycott of Potter-related products.
Them’s the facts. Now my opinion.
This is some manufactured astroturf bullshit. There is a real contingent of Nationalist wingnuts who just canNOT live with the referendum result. Most of them seem to be recent converts to politics, with the referendum breathing life into their willingness to participate and campaign. (Irony: they moan about how their elected representatives never represent them. Well, there’s a solution to that. Vote.) However, as with most recent conversions, they’re evangelical as fuck and have no filter, and there are some hordes of jerks on Twitter et al. whose political participation consists of bellowing and cursing at people they disagree with using all manner of slurs - more or less like a Tea Party herd. They get termed the “cybernats,” and are a goddamn embarrassment. My thoughts on this Rowling thing is that either Natalie McGarry - who is herself kind of a sullied character* - or one of her cybernat contacts decided they hate J.K. Rowling for opposing independence, went digging for any dirt they could. This non-issue, that J.K. Rowling HAS A FRIEND WHO ISN’T NICE!, is the best they could do. Meanwhile, like all Twitter campaigns by dickheads, they themselves use about a million gendered slurs a day and deny the existence of “cybernat”-ism at all as the creation of the mainstream media. (Actually it’s about ethics in Scottish journalism, I’m sure.)
I’m pro-independence and I campaigned as such before the referendum, and I was disappointed when J.K. Rowling donated to the No campaign. However, I also think there are good arguments on both sides, and I have very good friends who make compelling cases. I respect that, and I respect the outcome of the referendum.** Meanwhile, there are many on both sides who can’t make any case at all, but are very convinced about their own tribalistic grunts. This makes me sad, because it didn’t start out that way; it started out with some lovely political engagement and thorough research and investigation before the idiots got involved in politics. Tribalistic grunts are stupid. Finding a way to faux-vilify a public figure because she disagrees with you is stupid. Cyber-bullying on either side of any issue is stupid. Fuck you, Natalie McGarry, for making the party I support look like it has a bunch of Tea Party hacks in it.
*she had to resign as SNP party whip due to a minor scandal involving lots of money going missing from a women for independence campaign group she founded
**I’m not so much a nationalist as a progressivist; I campaigned for Yes because it seemed to offer the best path to progress on things like inequality, women’s rights, nuclear weaponry, environmental care, the usual suspects. If progressive goals are made within the Union, that’s fine with me too.