About twenty-odd years ago I was doing supply teaching in Glasgow. I spent a week in one school where I went round different classes to let the teachers out to write their forward plans. They were still trying to get used to the new 5-14 curriculum so each teacher got help with doing their plans using the new format. Anyway, in one class all the pupils had Maths to do; all I had to do was supervise them and help anybody that was stuck. There wasn't really much for me to do since they all seemed to know what they were about so I walked around, marking their work as they went along, just to check they were okay. I got to one girl and she had done no work at all; all she had in her jotter was a list of names. She explained that this is what she normally did; she would write down the names of anyone that had been talking to give to the teacher at the end of the lesson. Needless to say, I wasn't happy and was even less happy when I asked her to do the Maths work to discover that she hadn't a clue; she was the only pupil in the class that couldn't do the work. Of course, I told the teacher what I thought of this and reported it to the head teacher.
It wasn't the clyping that got me; it was the fact that the teacher was allowing that girl to learn nothing, while using her to keep the class in line. The teacher was wasting the girl's valuable time; time she was supposed to be using to learn. Equally scandalous is the news that Scottish Labour has just wasted a lot of time compiling a clype list of their own. This was all over Twitter yesterday and, if true, will make Scottish Labour even more unelectable. The list, apparently, runs to 51 pages and contains the names of SNP members that have said bad words to Labour supporters online. Can you imagine the time that took? Every online name that posted anything unsavoury would have to be investigated to find out their real name. Then that name would have to be checked against a database of SNP members. A whole team must have spent ages doing this and it shows that Scottish Labour has completely lost the plot. I wonder if Chris Graham was brought in as a consultant!
It also shows up the sheer hypocrisy of our media. While constantly condemning so-called 'Cybernats', the Daily Record yesterday had an article by a guest writer, supposed Marxist, Mick Hume, telling us how ridiculous it is that somebody is sent to prison for singing the 'Billy Boys'. Rather generously, he says that the song is 'awful and offensive' but that The Peeppul should have the freedom to sing it if they want. He quotes Voltaire on this but, to be honest, I don't think Voltaire had a crowd of knuckle-dragging morons in mind when he came out with his famous saying. Besides, I wonder how far Mr Hume is prepared to take this.
What if I go and stand outside a mosque, or some neighbourhood full of black people and hold up a banner saying, "Niggers go home!"; would Mr Hume support my right as a free individual to do this? What about turning up at a LGBT rally, shouting about "Poofy bastards"? Or what about some Islamic fundamentalist telling a crowd that all Western infidels deserve to die or speaking in support of those that hijacked the planes that crashed into the World Trade Centre buildings? I'm sure Mr Hume's middle-class 'Marxist' sensibilities would baulk at the idea of allowing such 'freedom of speech'. And yet, he's perfectly willing to allow anti-Catholic and anti-Irish bile to continue unabated.
What Mr Hume should be writing about are the circumstances in our country that say that you can't attack sectarian and racist abuse without attacking the victims of said abuse as well. It's hard to blame the Scottish Government for their Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act; any attempt to tackle the real problem will be met with death threats and violence. The whole culture in this country makes anti-Catholic and anti-Irish abuse acceptable, which means anyone trying to tackle it faces having to pussyfoot around in a two-faced fashion. Just ask Nil by Mouth!
Perhaps instead of quoting Voltaire, Mr Hume should look to the words of another philosopher, John Donne, who said, "No man is an island." Like it or not, we all live in a society and everyone in that society needs to be looked after. As well as calling himself a Marxist, Mr Hume also calls himself a libertarian, which is a complete contradiction in terms. Libertarianism is an extreme right-wing philosophy, espoused by many rich people in America. These people don't want a society at all. They want no health service, no welfare state, no pensions, no free schooling and, above all, no taxes. They don't want laws either. Essentially they want to do whatever takes their fancy with no consequences. Anybody else, of course, is free to speak out against them in this paradise, as long as they don't mind being beaten up or killed by the paid lackeys of the rich. Meanwhile, these rich individualists will pay minimum wages, shoot anyone they don't like and even indulge their sordid passions with children if they feel like it. Is this the sort of 'freedom' Mr Hume wants?
Another article in the DR, by John Niven, pretty much argues the same point. Flags don't kill people, guns do, he says. He doesn't seem to understand that the flag, symbol or whatever is what's important to the ones doing the killing. The Islamic fundamentalists that shot all those folk in Tunisia didn't just pick up guns for no reason; they would have been chanting stuff about Allah, wrong-headedly believing all the indoctrination they've received that God wants them to kill people. It's the same with those idiots in America with their Confederate flag; many of them believe that they're descended from the tribes of Israel and have been chosen by God to rule the world. And they're not alone. You can read the same shite on McMurdo's website and on sites aligned to the Orange Order. Meanwhile their flag/fleg means everything to them.
No, flags don't kill people but they provide the justification. Anyone flying a Confederate flag outside his home in South Carolina is effectively showing his support for the Charleston murderer; in fact, he's providing some kind of justification. This is exactly the same as ISIS providing a justification for slaughter with quotes taken out of context from the Koran. The UK flag was used as justification for natives around the world being mown down with machine guns; in some ways it still is.
The old 'Je suis Charlie' argument is wheeled out again to show us all how armed terrorists are trying to undermine freedom of speech. That freedom of speech, however, was used as a cover for the magazine to print all manner of offensive and racist insults. Oh, but 'sticks and stones' and all that. Pish! When one of its cartoonists dared to draw something offensive to Jews he was immediately sacked. Why? The answer is obvious. In Nazi Germany such offensive cartoons were used to dehumanise Jewish people, making it perfectly acceptable for them to be violently attacked. Charlie Hebdo didn't want to be responsible for encouraging anti-Semitism. It was perfectly happy, though, to encourage attacks on Muslims by dehumanising them!
Folk that scream about 'freedom of speech' are usually hypocrites, being the first to whine and moan about encouraging terrorism. The papers that shout loudest about 'freedom of speech' are the exact same papers that call for Abu Hamza to be hanged/shot/deported. But, hey! That guy's encouraging folk to kill people! And what the fuck do they think the morons singing about being 'up tae wur knees' are doing? Our media will tut-tut about violent attacks on Catholics but surely such attacks are okay - after all, it's not real people being attacked, just Fenians! The same thing used to happen to Jews/blacks/gays etc. etc. In some places it still does.
And while the DR indulges all these calls for 'freedom of speech' they're also saying how we need a proper debate about independence in Scotland. The only thing holding back any intelligent debate, however, is all those 'Cybernats' with their online abuse. Surely the Record's not suggesting we curtail these people's freedom of speech?
Lastly, I see the farmers of Orkney and Shetland have had a terrible year and are worrying about making ends meet. They're going on about demanding that the Scottish Government does something to help. Er...weren't this lot the ones banging on about wanting to stay with Westminster? Why aren't they asking their friends in London for help? Probably because they know what the answer will be! Here's a suggestion about how to deal with a bad harvest: