“An hubristic journalist seeking revenge for some perceived hurt is a minor annoyance compared to the power of mega-wealthy media owners, harvesters of lonely Internet souls. Facebook and Twitter have become Purgatory, the place where you must wait indefinitely until judged innocent or guilty, or agree to purification.”
Grouse Beater ‘Clipped Wings’ September 2016
Deja vu – again
I wrote those words almost exactly a year ago, at the time of the last attack on Wings’ integrity. The essay holds up well.
This latest attempt to teach Wings a lesson is an exercise in debeaking the site to stop it pecking unionists to death. This time the editor Stuart Campbell was arrested, released on bail. The ultra-sensitive Metropolitan Police travelled to Bath for a chat at his home, and who knows, perhaps a sandwich and pint in the King Williams, followed by a punt in a painted barge around that beautiful city. Campbell did meet bears on his walk.
No press tickets available
To the press’s shame but independence watcher’s ennui, journalists stayed spectacularly aloof. Then again, that’s no surprise. To many, Wings is their nemesis.
The British press and media presenters remain socially distant from ordinary people and their problems while purporting to be their voice. They have become part of the unaccountable elite. Whether graduates of Oxbridge universities or rough hewn celebrity chasers they preach orthodoxy and intolerance.
Wings is ordinary people talking about politics with ordinary people, plus a few trolls.
The moment of this new attack on Wings is significant. Is his accuser boasting: “Well, Ah’m no afraid of the bastirt! Ah’m gonnae nail him”? There is no merit in his accuser’s wrath, and I can’t see the case ever reaching court, but it’s well timed. That gives the BBC the excuse to announce him in bulletins as controversial.
Who? What? Why?
A few weeks back Campbell decided to sue Kezia Dugdale for libel, she [was] the muddle-headed leader of Scotland’s branch of the Labour Party. She’s an MSP rejected by the electorate who could not tell you which way a lift was going if you gave her two guesses. She refused to retract the denunciation. Campbell gave her an honourable exit. She didn’t take it. She did not apologise, but instead doubled the offence.
Killing with spammers
Campbell calls himself ‘Rev. Campbell’. How do you deal with a troublesome priest?
You do it subtly, with malice aforethought. You accuse him of some misdemeanour that will keep him occupied dealing with it. It can be financial impropriety but that was tried months back. Wings mis-read a deadline for an Electoral Commission spending return.
If you’re devious, you manipulate the system against the innocent. One reason the ASBO system lost adherents was the nefarious knew how to exploit ASBOs. They lied about their neighbour to the police and local authority. Their neighbour got a visit from the council’s well-dressed ASBO boys. The result was the neighbour you’d been harassing was now the guilty party. Job done. Taxpayer money wasted.
Politicians have a duty to act responsibly
No matter what Dugdale assimilates in the way of knowledge she can’t translate it into gravitas or wisdom. Without a moment’s thought, she made the reckless accusation in Parliament that Campbell is homophobic.
I can testify here and now, I have never seen him espouse homophobic opinion, ever. Moreover, at least two journalists he promotes are openly gay.
He is right to go to law, no matter how much others feel it ought to be water off a duck’s back. Either you care about your reputation as an honest journalist, it has a value, worth something, or you go and work for the Daily Mail or Record and forego a conscience.
Hidden in plain sight
The article makes plain the grievance described in press reports as ‘harassment’ is one of being ‘mocked’, [and told she is ‘a disgrace’ by Campbell].
Here it is almost in its entirety lifted from the public domain:
“A WRITER accused of malicious reporting on Scottish politics has continued to threaten criminal action over the response she received online.
Siobhan McFadyen, who has submitted various controversial articles to the Daily Express, was criticised by pro-independence website Wings Over Scotland for misrepresenting the 2014 referendum as containing “widespread outbreaks of violence”. McFadyen was mocked online in a wave of messages – at which point she began reporting critics to the police.
“People hate it when I incite violence. They’re a nasty hate mob. So unfair!”, joked Twitter user Jack Deeth. McFadyen copied the message to the Metropolitan Police, and said she would make a police report.
Another user ‘Commonly Neil’ added, “Siobhan, with respect and putting all enmity aside, I strongly advise you to consider backing away for a while. I think perhaps we all should, out of respect for the enormous hole that is being dug here. Meant kindly.”
“Why are you threatening me? Or are you about to? You’re tell[ing] me to do what exactly? I am reporting both these accounts to police. And I mean it this time,” McFadyen replied.
McFadyen described Campbell as a “cult leader”.
Of the other kind of courageous editor
Here’s an oddity. BBC Scotland announced Campbell’s arrest on their tiddly news show, but viewers unfamiliar with Wings must be wondering what it’s all about. The BBC never feature what Wings is debating or criticising. They steadfastly ignore it.
The press is saying little. The Herald calls him a provocateur, another way of saying, until the independence debate, life in Scotland was tranquil, full of sylvan pleasures.
Much as our enemies try to divert us, it isn’t about Wings. Our struggle is about what we believe in, and what we are fighting for.
Post script: The case against Wings was dropped. Wings continues to thrive.
This is the sister essay to ‘Clipped Wings’: http://wp.me/p4fd9j-9Hh