Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday 5 December 2009

A quasi-meltdown of SNP-leaning blogs is in progress

Over the past few weeks a couple of SNP-leaning blogs have 'ceased transmissions' ("Wardog" and "The Universality of Cheese") and now I learn that a third, "Subrosa", has gone off-air, too. I had started to write a blog article a few days ago which would have been entitled "SNP-leaning bloggers on the psychiatrist's couch" and the first couple of paragraphs would have read:

Reading quite a few of the SNP-leaning blogs over the past week or so has been like being an observer at a global mind-dump; the snide remark might be (and slap me hard for typing this lol) that there's been a lot of trash accumulating in them there minds to dump. But that would be cruel.

The current cycle of introspection amongst this cohort of bloggers seemed to kick off a couple of weeks back with the sudden disappearance of the 'Wardog' blog, which I wrote about to high-light the dangers to wider freedom of speech which his 'silencing' seemed to represent.

- that post had been 'inspired', if that's quite the right word(!), by some blog entries in the SNP Tactical Voting and J Arthur MacNumpty blogs, probably if I recall correctly in Subrosa's blog, too (no longer possible to check there, however) which all seemed to be indulging in what one might politely describe, at least in the case of the first two (the third being, we are led to believe, a lady) as keyboard onanism, as if SNP-blogging is co-equal with all Scottish blogging. There are other bloggers in Scotland than the fantasist SNP-leaning bloggers (and of course one of these two is I understand not actually based in Scotland at all, but is presumably someone with a Scottish heritage). Admittedly the SNP-bloggers have in recent months been generally more 'vocal' than other bloggers here. In all recent SNP-leaning blogging there has been a pretty clear whiff of 'victimhood', that somehow they, and by extension all Scottish/British bloggers are somehow being 'got at', possibly by agents of what is known as the MSM or 'main stream media', who are all castigated as being 'Unionist supporting' or sometimes 'Labour supporting'. Now I haven't ever made a practice of reading the Scotsman newspaper online (or in print) as I find it a pretty mediocre rag, but I have occasionally seen articles in both media - a feature of many of the few articles I have read online was the 'over the top', some might say 'obsessive' nature of many of the comments there, mainly emanating from what seemed to be SNP-supporters. I recall, before 'she' started blogging having occasionally seen the name 'Subrosa' given as the author of some of the comments, a few of which were frankly racist in tone. Nevertheless I found her as a blogger generally interesting, although hardly objective. On a couple of the occasions when she left a comment in my own little blog I had occasion to comment on the unpleasantly quasi-homophobic nature of these comments, but her comments were left in place by me (she may have deleted them subsequently, for all I know or care, as I now realise 'Wardog' has done too over the past couple of weeks, although in his case our debates never touched on homophobia as I never detected any whiff of that in him whatsoever) because the way she expressed her comments was always civil and I put her views down to being those of someone of advanced years. I knew no details of who she was, but she represented herself in her blog as being someone of advanced years.

In any case, one feature is common to the three SNP-leaning blogs which have been taken down recently - they were all anonymous. Shortly before the first two ceased blogging their identities were revealed, in the case of 'Wardog' by himself in his later blog entries and in the case of 'The Universality of Cheese' as a result of investigative journalism. From what I have gleaned from a couple of bloggers who have written about Subrosa's blogging demise, her identity was to be revealed this coming Sunday.

I can understand, at a pinch, why some bloggers wish to blog anonymously, but for the first 33 months my blog was in existence (until January 2005) I simply did not link to 'anonymous' blogs, period. From January 2005 I have relaxed this policy, and plan to continue with that more relaxed policy now, but I have never been entirely happy with the whole concept of anonymous blogging. It is significant, I think, that whilst both the SNP Tactical Voting and J Arthur MacNumpty blogs are written under the mask of pseudonyms, neither is anonymous. I have in the past written highly-critical articles about the author of the SNP Tactical Voting, from none of which criticism do I resile in any way, even if I accept that his writing is often of a high standard and displays a sound analysis on occasion, but of course I agree with neither on the merits of what the SNP desires to achieve in/'for' Scotland. But that is healthy debate with which I have no quarrel and both of these bloggers do write generally very coherent articles (even if they are interminably long sometimes).

In my own case I have never blogged anonymously. I have lost a few friends as a result (not everyone seems to have been willing to accept the 'revelation' that I am gay, but I can do without their acquaintance, quite frankly) and some of my views on other matters have irritated a few people beyond reason to the extent that I did have a stalker at one stage who purported to post scurrilous comments in other blogs under my name, presumably as a means of discrediting me. Luckily I was alerted to this by a couple of other bloggers so was able to overcome the problem. However, even in the recent past (following my recent article about 'Wardog' - linked to above) I was obliged to delete a comment from an SNP-supporting 'nutter' claiming 'victimhood' and various other 'excuses' for why [s]he had contravened my comments policy by writing offensive homophobic comments and alleging that I was somehow a Labour supporter (just as offensive!), which no rational person who has read much of what I have ever written here could reasonably assume to be an accurate interpretation, just because I don't happen to fall at the feet of wee-Eck's phantasmorgical nonsense!

So what does all this boil down to? Firstly, I am sorry to see these three bloggers (so far) disappear, because I do believe in free speech, however objectionable I may find some of the views expressed. On the other hand all three of these bloggers did pretty regularly post scurrilous obsessive nonsense either in their own blogs or in the comments pages of newspapers - and some people take exception to this. My view generally is that if I have something to say, I say it. Of course I do often self-censor so that what I think does not pass my lips or appear in print in my blog or in comments I occasionally make elsewhere, because I am not a complete idiot. Some idiots (i.e. these three bloggers), however, seem to think that they can say whatever they choose under the cloak of their supposed anonymity, then claim some kind of victim status when someone 'calls' them on it. My attitude is that I must accept responsibility for whatever I write here - sometimes I have written some pretty pointed things about various individuals but so far, luckily, this has not brought me more than minor 'grief'. Fundamentally I do think anonymous blogs are cowardly - it's rather like some of my closeted gay acquaintances over the years who have made all sorts of excuses for why they remain closeted, pretty pathetic in most cases, with a few exceptions admittedly (if I were gay and living in Iran or Nigeria, for example, I'd keep quiet about it too, very probably). Just what was it that people like Subrosa, Wardog and The Universality of Cheese were trying to achieve by their anonymous blogging and why is it considered such a disaster for them to have their identities revealed? I may be a 'libertarian', but I am not an 'anarchist' so I do accept there are certain limits to what one may say or write even in a democracy, without potentially being subject to legal sanction; anonymous bloggers seem to hope to skirt around this basic rule of living in a society governed by law. The attempts to portray them as 'victims' does not, in the final analysis, wash with me, however much I may regret their cessation of blogging. Live by the sword...


  1. I can't believe you are not a Labour supporter!! ;)

    Completely agree on the anonymous blogging front. It does not bode well for honest writing and, let's face it, is a bit passe now in the blogging world. How many times does an anonymous blogger need to be unmasked before people realise that it's nigh impossible to have a widely read blog AND be anonymous?

    What I think is a real shame, and perhaps rather revealing, is that bloggers who are unmasked don't wish to stand behind what they have written but instead delete/stop writing their blogs. That speaks volumes for the courage they have in their convictions.

  2. What I think is a real shame, and perhaps rather revealing, is that bloggers who are unmasked don't wish to stand behind what they have written but instead delete/stop writing their blogs. That speaks volumes for the courage they have in their convictions.

    I tend to agree, although we both know that bloggers have put their livelihoods at risk through their blog writing - I can think of several 'Safeway' or 'Waterstones' bloggers over the past several years who lost their jobs as a direct result of what they said in their blogs. It's not quite as simple for some people as even libertarians like me might suggest; in the recent 'spat' both Wardog and The Universality of Cheese have suffered professional damage as a result of what they have written.

    I don't have a job to lose, being one of those who don't need to work, but relatively few can divorce themselves so easily from this harsh reality, however unfair that reality may seem. Even I do 'self-censor' though - I try and phrase some of what I write in terms that are not 'actionable'; it's that self-check that these 'idiots' have ignored.

  3. Bill, reading this is up there with the upsetting things in my life this week.

    I have NEVER made homophobic remarks on anyone's blog and that is truly unjust to say so. I would never make them and that is an untrue accusation.

    I'm not 'unmasked' I'm threatened. Big, big difference. My blog was closed on police advice until they could start their investigations. You will note I did not say I was taking it off line, but closing it.

    I stand my everything I've written on my blog and I will continue to do so. I have the courage of my convictions and If events have ever overtaken my posts then I'm happy to admit that.

    I would never think of writing such an 'epitaph' to any blogger, even one with whom I disagreed.

    As for ever removing my comments from a blog I think I've done that once only and certainly not here. I won't be removing this one either.

    Let me reiterate what I've said so often on my own blog. I am not a member of the SNP. I support them in their policy of independence for Scotland and I support all other parties if they have a policy in which I believe.

    Yes I have been a victim these past few days, perhaps a victim of my own success dare I say.

    Ah I see I'm racist now. Auch I've had enough. Bye Bill, I actually thought you were a decent person.

  4. Hi Subrosa

    Sorry you are upset - it's just that sometimes it's necessary to tell it like it is! My allusion to your possible homophobia (which I accpet may be inaccurate, or purely a generational thing) relates to a comment you made in this blog entry in my blog in July 2009:

    As for your remark:
    I actually thought you were a decent person
    - frankly your opinion bothers me not; I don't consider you particularly 'decent' either. My remark about your possible 'racist' attitudes related to a comment in a newspaper article some time ago in which you made unpleasant remarks about the non-local (English) owners of B&Bs allegedly having 'taken over' in your area. Maybe it's just another symptom of the 'victimhood' that many SNP-leaning bloggers and supporters seem to adopt.

    What you write in various media is stored away, I'm afraid.

    For the moment I stand by what I wrote.

    Best regards

  5. One can blog non-anonymously and still keep one's privacy, Bill. I only reveal what I don't mind being revealed.

  6. James

    What you write is undoubtedly true (it's more or less the way I operate too), but I don't fool myself that once one's identity is known, given sufficient motive and resources, interested parties could ferret out further supposedly confidential details if they focus a sufficiently powerful lens on my/your affairs. I'm sure you realise this yourself.



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