It is clear that the emotion within the Independence debate is reaching new heights of passion.
This is evidenced by the noise generated from the Main Stream Media (MSM) who have been shouting loudly from the rooftops, throwing insults and falsehoods at the Yes campaign.
To their credit, the Yes campaign remain focussed while under sustained attack from the Unionist press, Radio and TV.
But while we all spray ourselves with Teflon and carry on regardless something has been forgotten in all the mudslinging, and that is the blatant attempt by the No campaign to dehumanise a sizeable part of the Scottish people. The most obvious example of dehumanisation is the use of the term “Cybernat” by the opponents of Yes.
A Cybernat is identified with those on the Yes side of the debate who challenge Unionist views through the use of Social Media. I’m displaying all the hallmarks of a Cybernat by typing this blog. I’m using new media to call into question the “accepted” truths of the Union. I’m contributing in my own small, often inarticulate way, to the Yes campaign. Unionists do not like this relatively new phenomenon and seek to attack the Yes online movement.
When the term Cybernat was first coined by the No campaign, I actually thought it a compliment and a badge to be worn with pride, but now it’s become something more sinister. It’s an insult, a derogatory term and it is as equally offensive (because it is meant to be offensive) as better known derogatory terms.
From a personal perspective, I still wear the term with pride, but in the back of my mind I am very conscious of the hatred that is being channelled through the use of the word.
It is a hatred. Hatred of Yes supporters who have chosen to challenge the lies and misinformation that are the building blocks of Unionism. By undermining the foundations of Unionism the Yes supporters are attracting the hatred and fear of Unionists.
So now that we have “Cybernat” languishing in the lexicon, seemingly at ease alongside other insulting terms, perhaps it’s time to look at the term in more detail.
I don’t intend to examine the meaning of the term, but to understand the level of intended abuse that use of the term implies.
Some Unionists absolutely despise Yes activists that challenge their lies and misinformation. It’s a new experience for Unionists to have their long held position challenged. The online presence of people prepared to stand up to the lies, to forensically examine Unionist statements and policies has brought the Unionist world to a point where their bubble has been well and truly burst.
It is a frightening, scary new world for a Scottish Unionist and scared people react in predictable and well understood ways. They coin insulting terms to hurl at their opponents.
When I was very young I remember my father telling me that insults and jokes aimed at Irish people were a result of fear on the part of the joker or person throwing the insults.
In Scotland we are all wearily familiar with terms that are used in this sense and I won’t pollute my blog with those words. Those terms belong in the past.
The N word is another term which is often used disparagingly, it suggests that its target is extremely unsophisticated, its usage has become unambiguously pejorative, a common ethnic slur usually directed at black people. Thankfully this term is heard less often, thank goodness.
Yet the term Cybernat is used disparagingly by Unionists. It is pejorative and the building blocks of the term, the very foundations of the word, whether it is typed on a computer keyboard, uttered in certain company or printed on paper, are those of hatred.
In many respects the on-going use of the term by Unionists can be viewed as a litmus test of the No campaign. The constant use of a pejorative term to describe your opponents in a debate is hardly the stuff of optimism. The No camp are plainly extremely worried by their prospects or lack of them.
But what about the hate, the venom, the malice that is running through the No campaign, what on earth are we to make of it?
Is a desire for a better Scotland such a bad proposition, is the desire for more socially just solutions and fairness to tackle Scottish society’s ills so distasteful that the people who are proposing this future are regarded as fitting targets for abuse?
It would appear so.
I actually think it is a very sad reflection of Unionism, surely the supporters of the Union deserve to be represented in a much better way.
There is actually a further danger in all of this mud slinging by the No campaign. While they are trying to dehumanise a portion of the Scottish population with the use of insult and smear, they are actually doing exactly the same thing to the No support. By association, the No supporter becomes viewed as someone with little tolerance or compassion. This is completely wrong but Better Together seem to be either blind to this or content with this additional outcome.
As a Scot, I don’t want well meaning No supporters tarred with a brush wielded by Alistair Darling and his team. Ordinary Scots are better than the level of debate that the No camp are prepared to drag them down to.
If one thing is crystal clear in the Independence debate it is the sheer contempt in which Better Together- No Thanks- UKOK hold all the Scottish population, both Yes and No.
If there were to be one positive outcome from all this abuse that I would wish for, it would be for the No supporters to wake up to the real victims of abuse in all of this; the No support itself.
Quite simply; all the Scottish people deserve better than Better Together, regardless of the outcome of 18th September.