Monday, July 6, 2015

Stephen Daisley is getting dangerously close to losing the plot over online abuse

Those Olympian heights from which Stephen Daisley observes us unclean mortals must be getting rather dizzying by now.  The great man's determination to cast all sides as equally to blame for online abuse reached an impressive new level of absurdity today, as he implied that the SNP were hypocritical in condemning Better Together's Jill Stephenson for calling Mhairi Black a "slut" -

"Of course, the Nationalists’ smelling salts routine would carry more credibility if they hadn’t lustily defended Alex Salmond’s own sexist braying against Tory minister Anna Soubry. That, a party spokesperson said, was a "boisterous but good-natured exchange”. No one sees the hump on his own back, runs an old Yiddish proverb."

Who the hell has "lustily defended" any "sexist braying"? Let's just recall what Salmond actually said to renowned feminist Ms Soubry -

"Behave yourself, woman."

Now, it's fair to say there was a sharp division of opinion in nationalist circles over whether he had said something inadvisable or not.   I was firmly in the "not" camp, for the following reasons...

Question : Is it conceivable, bordering on highly likely, that Salmond would have said "Behave yourself, man" in identical circumstances to a male Tory minister?

Answer : Yes.

Question : Is 'woman' a term of derision where 'man' is not?

Answer : No.

Question : Is there any qualitative difference between saying "Behave yourself, man" and "Behave yourself, woman"?

Answer : No.

Question : Therefore, was Salmond's comment in any way sexist?

Answer : No.

But even those SNP supporters who reject that line of reasoning (and in my view it takes some pretty contrived logic to do so) would still agree that the word "slut" is many orders of magnitude more sexist and offensive than "Behave yourself, woman". To equate one with the other trivialises the abuse that Mhairi Black was subjected to, and I'd suggest that's something Stephen Daisley should reflect upon.

48 comments:

  1. I guess in the eyes of Mr Daisley saying "behave yourself, woman" is equally comparable to "foul mouthed little slut."

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  2. Daisley is the epitome of the media quisling.

    He's a dead in the head unionist who wouldn't know the truth if it booted him where his balls should be. Evil evil man using his position in the media to spread lies and smears about ordinary people. And to help keep an entire country enslaved to an odious foreign regime.

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  3. I pay zero heed to Daisley.

    Likes to hang around on twitter making smarmy comments and sucking up to prominent pro-indies. Smiling assassin.

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    1. "Smiling assassin..."

      EXACTLY!!

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  4. George Square day after referendum. We saw the Brits and what they really think of Yes voters. I rest my case.

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  5. Classic troll, makes controversial pronouncements then sits back to see the reaction. I think he just craves attention, the poor thing. Everyone should just ignore him because it would probably make him cry.

    Although I actually felt sorry for him when the UKIP Coburn started re-tweeting him in an approving way. Oh dear.

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  6. A fun game is to mention Mhairi Black in the company of anti-SNP folk, then stand black and watch the explosion of slobber and impotent rage. It's almost Pavlovian.

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  7. "Is it conceivable, bordering on highly likely, that Salmond would have said "Behave yourself, man" in identical circumstances to a male Tory minister?"

    This defence couldn't be more wide of the mark. Saying "behave yourself, man" has none of the gender-discriminatory connotations that saying "behave yourself, woman" has. Just as calling someone a "weegie" isn't racist, but other terms about nationalities (e.g. the well known terms used to insult people from Pakistan or Japan) *are* offensive. What you've written is almost a textbook example of the "false equivalence fallacy" that's regularly used as a defence for racist/sexist language.

    What it misses completely is that offensive terms and modes of speaking are only offensive because of the context in which they're stated. And the context here is centuries of institutionalised discrimination against women. Trying to draw a parallel between the two phrases without acknowledging the context that gives offensive language its power is completely misguided. There are a whole host of anti-feminist arguments that operate from the same standpoint: see the countless academic discussions around "misandry vs misogyny".

    We have a First Minister who is working wonders for gender equality in this country and I dare say privately she would have disagreed with Salmond's choice of words just as much as I or anyone else who cares about this issue would. It was hardly the worst example of inhibiting female agency, but we shouldn't be defending the indefensible: and certainly not with the same illogical false equivalence defence that's always used to undermine feminism.

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    1. Behave yourself, woman

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    2. Jen

      You are seeing gender offence where none exists

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    3. Men telling women to "behave themselves" is not the same as men telling men to do so; that is the point.

      I don't, however, find what Alex said offensive, though I knew it would be leapt upon and therefore wish he hadn't said it. This may partly be because I do find Anna Soubry offensive, all the time, but the identity of the recipient shouldn't excuse sexism where it does exist.

      The real issue, though, is not (in my opinion) whether Alex Salmond would have been better choosing alternative words, but that what he said is nowhere near as bad, under any circumstances, as what Jill Stephenson wrote.

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    4. "Men telling women to "behave themselves" is not the same as men telling men to do so; that is the point."

      And what about women who tell men to behave themselves? This is just such a ludicrous double-standard - I can think of plenty of occasions when a woman has addressed me as "man" in EXACTLY the kind of pantomime manner that Alex Salmond did with Anna Soubry.

      As I said in the post, there are all sorts of contrived ways of trying to argue that "behave yourself, woman" is somehow radically different from "behave yourself, man", and I'm not remotely convinced by any of them.

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    5. James: "As I said in the post, there are all sorts of contrived ways of trying to argue that "behave yourself, woman" is somehow radically different from "behave yourself, man", and I'm not remotely convinced by any of them."

      If you really can't see the difference then that's worrying. I disagreed with your original justification in the article, but I can understand why people make that error. The argument is completely wrong in my view and I explained why above, but I understand why people buy into that reasoning at first glance.

      But you've followed that up by citing the "women discriminating against men" double standard. The "double standard" is pretty much the single biggest defence used to justify actual discrimination. Try typing "anti-white racism" into Google and see what you find. False equivalences are designed to further actual discrimination. Instead of acknowledging the power structures that have been behind discrimination throughout history (and continue to operate) the implicit conclusion to be drawn from the double standard argument is that as discrimination doesn't just work in one direction on an individual level, there's no difference between the two modes of behaviour.

      Years of women being treated as second class citizens (and still, even today, being paid less for the same job) is a bad thing but hey, some women say nasty things about men too sometimes. It's that casual tolerance of gender-based discrimination that's at the heart of the problem. Until we address it we're going to continue to live in a patriarchal society.

      And I mentioned it above, but would you really find it "contrived" if someone argued that the term "weegie" is less offensive than the common term used about people from Pakistan? The fact that I'm not even using that term in this discussion should indicate why they're different and it's for precisely the same reasons that "behave yourself, man" and "behave yourself, woman" shouldn't be given a false equivalence.

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    6. As a glaswegian, i would suggest that you are being offensive in using weegie. Suck on that.

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    7. "If you really can't see the difference then that's worrying. I disagreed with your original justification in the article, but I can understand why people make that error."

      Oh, for heaven's sake, Jen, this is a matter of opinion, not fact, and therefore there is no question of "error", as you put it. If you're disputing my right to hold a view that diverges from the ideological position you're espousing, I'd suggest that's far more worrying than anything I've said.

      I don't accept your premise that we're still living in a patriarchal society, by the way. Maybe you mean that term to be interpreted in a narrow and conditional manner, but anyone who looks around them in a clear-sighted way will know it's a massive over-simplification.

      "And I mentioned it above, but would you really find it "contrived" if someone argued that the term "weegie" is less offensive than the common term used about people from Pakistan?"

      No, I wouldn't. But what I do find extraordinarily contrived is that the very obvious equivalence between the words "man" and "woman" could be regarded as comparable to any equivalence someone might dubiously discern between "Weegie" and the P-word.

      If Salmond had said something like "behave yourself, dear", or "behave yourself, darling", you'd be on much stronger ground here - but he didn't. He said something that could have been said in directly equivalent form to a man.

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    8. "No, I wouldn't. But what I do find extraordinarily contrived is that the very obvious equivalence between the words "man" and "woman" could be regarded as comparable to any equivalence someone might dubiously discern between "Weegie" and the P-word."

      Far from being contrived, it's basic logic. Your defence here is to point out that the words "man" and "woman" are linguistically on the same level and therefore that in your view there's no qualitative difference between saying "behave yourself, man" and "behave yourself, woman". It's precisely the same thing with "weegie" - linguistically there is no difference, at all, between the two terms. They both refer to the place where a person comes from and are contractions of a longer word.

      The difference, which you accept (as any reasonable person would), is entirely about context. If you accept that difference then you're also accepting that it is not sufficient as a defence to merely point at two words or phrases being equivalent on a linguistic level. They also have to have equivalence in terms of their context.

      So your original argument is either wrong or insufficient. Instead of discussing context (which, by your own admission, is what actually gives discriminatory language its power) you've used a linguistic justification, even when you acknowledge that such an argument can never be sufficient to prove what you're attempting to prove - if it were then simply noting the linguistic similarities of the term "weegie" and the Pakistan equivalent would be enough to prove that the P-word isn't offensive.

      If you want to now argue that there is no contextual difference then I find it quite remarkable that anyone could fail to see the contextual difference given our long history of patriarchy. We live in a society in which women were regularly told how to behave in public by male associates, in which they were prohibited from engaging in entire forms of behaviour deemed acceptable for men, and where men even had the right to vote in the place of all women less than a century ago.

      If you want to deny patriarchy still exists then we're going off into entirely new (and vaguely unpleasant) territory, but I'm sure you would agree that it did exist and that's the historical context discriminatory language takes its meaning from. And given the fact that merely arguing this point has resulted in numerous silly comments from other posters here - including the advice to "suck on that" above - I think it's pretty clear misogyny hasn't vanished from society yet. Fortunately there do seem to be a few more reasonable people below (Jamie and Niall).

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    9. "Your defence here is to point out that the words "man" and "woman" are linguistically on the same level and therefore that in your view there's no qualitative difference between saying "behave yourself, man" and "behave yourself, woman"."

      No, that's not true, actually. "Man" and "woman" aren't just linguistically the same, they're used in the same way in the real world. "Woman" is not a derogatory, dismissive or offensive term, either in its literal or generally-understood meaning. The P-word plainly is. And it's odd that you said "your defence", because the idea that there's any difference between the words "man" and "woman" is so bizarre that I'd have thought the onus was on those who believe that to defend it.

      "If you want to now argue that there is no contextual difference then I find it quite remarkable that anyone could fail to see the contextual difference given our long history of patriarchy."

      Really? You really think it is "remarkable" that I see no difference between the general usage of the words "man" and "woman"?

      "If you want to deny patriarchy still exists then we're going off into entirely new (and vaguely unpleasant) territory"

      Vaguely unpleasant? Again, is the nature of the unpleasantness simply that I take a different view?

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  8. Totally agree with your reasoning... and I've personally heard Alex say "man" in that context.

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    1. Honestly, I think there are two main aspects to the Salmond thing:

      1. "Behave yourself woman" IS a sexist expression and IS qualitatively different than saying, "Behave yourself, man." The former expression has Victorian connotations of female hysteria which was, of course, sexist.

      2. ON THE OTHER HAND, as Ferdinand de Saussure reminds us, the meaning of language is dependent on the context in which it is used. I don't believe that Alex Salmond subscribes to Victorian notions off female hysteria (all the substantial evidence points to the opposite conclusion) and I don't believe that he meant to make any such allusion, at least not intentionally. Anna Soubry was acting up quite a bit and he was probably telling her to behave insofar as she is a minister, not insofar as she is a woman.

      Should Alex Salmond have used a different choice of words? Definitely. Should we attack him for it? Certainly not. He should be reproved and told to be more considerate and thoughtful in his choice of words (and I'm sure he was), but that's all.

      Dr Jill Stephenson, on the other hand, is a reprehensible human being and unleashed some truly nasty internalised misogyny against Mhairi Black.

      For full disclosure, I am a man, so my views should not carry the same weight as a woman's on this matter, but there they are.

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    2. "I am a man, so my views should not carry the same weight as a woman's on this matter"

      I don't know whether to laugh or cry when people say things like that.

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    3. Its a perfectly sensible thing to say. I'm not trying to say that my views aren't valid because I'm a white, middle-class male. My point is that I can't talk with the same experience as a woman. I haven't had to deal with sexism, so I wouldn't presume to be able to speak with the same authority as a woman who had.

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    4. This is a gender-based cringe.

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    5. Totally agree with your reasoning... and I've personally heard Alex say "man" in that context.

      He claims to have said "behave yourself, man" multiple times in the Scottish Parliament, but strangely it doesn't appear in the Official Report.

      It's fair to say that, regardless of whether BYW really has more of an edge to it than BYM, many believe that it does, and it was therefore careless of him to say it. We're fortunate that Sturgeon does not appear to share his tendency to engage mouth before brain.

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  9. I don't think what Jamie said was so unreasonable. As a man, he has not been on the receiving end of misogynist abuse. and so he doesn't bring the same kinds of life experience to the table when it comes to discussing the many subtle ways in which women are put down or marginalised by language, social signals , etc. That doesn't mean that his views on the matter are worthless - after all, we all use language, we all experience gender and gender relations, we all have eyes to see and ears to hear - but as he said himself his own understanding is limited.

    Many men underestimate how often any reasonably young and attractive women gets sexually harassed when out and about, simply because they don't harass women themselves, and those men who do it are less likely to do it when strange men are around. That leads those men to tell women who complain about street harassment that they are making mountains out of molehills.

    As for Salmond, he's using a Scottish form of words which almost certainly doesn't have any misogynist intent behind it, but sometimes expressions like this (eg 'hen', 'darling' etc) become outmoded and the people who use them ought to be encouraged to move on in their choice of language.

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    1. I must say I have no sympathy at all for that line of argument. If I was to take it to its logical conclusion, though, I could argue that men are more likely to have experienced vexatious or malicious accusations of sexism, and that men's views on the matter should therefore carry more weight than women's. That would be ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than the idea that only women should get to have a view.

      Doubtless we're only minutes away from someone introducing the word "mansplaining" into this discussion.

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    2. Allow me to quote myself:

      "I'm not trying to say that my views aren't valid"

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    3. " I could argue that men are more likely to have experienced vexatious or malicious accusations of sexism,"

      More likely than what? Are men more likely to have experienced malicious accusations of sexism than women are to have experienced sexism? I very much doubt you can back that one up.

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    4. Nope, that's not what I meant at all, and I'd have thought my actual meaning should be abundantly clear. I was saying that men are more likely to have suffered vexatious or malicious accusations of sexism than women.

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    5. I'm agreeing with Jen here. Say 'behave yourself , woman' in a work setting and what's the subtext? Behave yourself woman and get back in the kitchen? Behave yourself woman and shut up, men are speaking? Behave yourself woman, your opinion doesn't matter? Because that's how it comes across to a lot of people, myself included. Salmond shouldn't have let himself get riled, should have chosen his words better, and should be thinking hard about what he actually did say. You may not agree with me, James and that's fine, but you should be able to accept that not everyone will agree with you without insulting them and perhaps try a little harder to understand different points of view.

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    6. Now that is bang out of order. This is an open forum, which is why there are so many views here that I disagree with, but you're not going to get away with accusing me of insulting people when you know damn well that I haven't. Withdraw that, please.

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    7. Incidentally, I'm getting the distinct impression from your comment that you haven't even seen the video of the incident. Salmond was not remotely riled when he said those words. Soubry was trying to disrupt his speech, and he was poking fun at those attempts with a huge smile on his face.

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    8. Jen and Anonymous are looking for insult where there is none.

      If "woman" isn't okay what about "girl”? I know women in the office who say to their female friends, "How you doing, girl?" etc all the time, are Jen and Amonymous going to claim they're sexist for referring to their friend by a gender-specific noun? Because if it’s sexist to call a woman a woman, then surely every gender specific noun is sexist.

      Jen and co would be justified if it was a case where someone was calling a woman “woman” and refusing to use her name in an attempt to strip that individual of their individuality, but this is hardy an example of that.

      I know plenty of people who tag "man" and "woman" onto sentences, it’s just part of their dialect – not trying to invalid them as people. Would I use it myself? No, but then again I don’t call dinner “tea-time” either, it’s not part of my dialect. I knew a girl once who called everyone "pet" at the end of her sentence, not for a second did I read some hidden meaning into like she was saying she owned us.

      And the difference with the P-word, that Jen tries to link with the word “woman”, is that it does have insulting connotations. The two are not the same.

      By all means, Jen and co should complain about sexism, but direct their energies at actual sexism in modern western society, like the lack of female speaking roles in film and tv etc not quibble over grammar. Between “woman” and "slut", it’s the later that most women would take offense at being called and is arguably an actual sexist term due to its predominantly use against woman. What’s the difference? Because woman just means “adult human female” and doesn’t carry any negative connotations (certainly not to modern generations), slut means promiscuous and its use implies female sexuality is wrong or shameful.

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    9. So 'stop being such a girl', 'throws like a girl', 'that's a girls drink', 'your being such an old woman' are in no way judgemental comments then? Sorry I'm not convinced by white middle class men telling me the patriarchy doesn't exist. James, I do in fact find your tone and comments frequently offensive along with those of some of your other commenters who you choose not to ask to moderate their language. I have watched the footage of Salmond, I consider he let himself down. As a politician he should consider what he says more carefully. I won't visit this blog again as I find the comments to inclined to become aggressive. You of course can delete what I've written if you don't care to see it, but you might consider that if we'd been better at listening to and accepting others points of view as valid last year we might have got that yes majority.

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    10. That's an utterly pathetic comment. I note you haven't been big enough to apologise for wrongly accusing me of insulting people, but instead have moved on to the more elastic complaint of "I find your tone offensive". I can't really argue with that one, because what an individual finds offensive is very much up to them.

      I'm not going to delete your comment, because this is an open forum. Do you understand what that means? It means other people don't get to tell you what you can and can't say, but by the same token you don't get to tell them what they can and can't say.

      By all means flounce off if you want to, but you're not going to bully me into changing my views, or my moderation policy. Sorry, but there it is.

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    11. Jen & Anonymous,

      I do understand where you are coming from, but here's the thing. To me, 'behave yourself, woman' and 'behave yourself, man' are equivalent. They may or may not be offensive (to me they are not), but they are equally (in)offensive to me, and it seems to many others here.

      I consider men and women to be equal and treat them so in, I hope, all respects. This includes the use of the terms 'woman' and 'man'.

      Now, assuming you are fighting for women and men to be treated equally, until you too can feel comfortable using and hearing these terms equally, I fear you have not yet achieved your goal.

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  10. To return to the actual point, I like Daisley's style of writing, but there's something quite subtle he does that irritates me. He does take shots at all sides, but when discussing Labour the tone is usually "where did these lovely people lose their way?" whereas when discussing CYBERNATS, the tone is usually "what the hell is wrong with these paranoid nutjobs?"

    I recall once asking him to clarify a comment he made on Twitter - suggesting that parents would be wary of taking their kids to an event where Nat protestors might appear (this was right after Jim'n'Eddie got an earful in St. Enoch Square) - and all I got in return was snark and insults about "Cybernat High Command" and him being an evil quisling. Until that point I gave him the benefit of the doubt, largely because Stu Campbell holds him in such high regard. But now I see him as a troll. He likes to rile people and it's easier to rile our side.

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    1. Subtle? He thinks he's being subtle, I suppose.

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    2. Daisley's a fool. He tries to convince people he is even handed when it is obvious from his writing that he is anti-SNP and especially its supporters. And there might have been a (short) time when " Stu Campbell holds him in such high regard" but I doubt that applies now going by his recent critiques of Daisley.

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  11. Are Daisleys witterings net for against indy?

    Decidedly against.

    He can suck up to and hang around with the Yes "elite" as much as he wants. Still a troll.

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  12. The vast majority of what Stephen Daisley comes out with just makes me think of a wee boy that thinks he's awfy clever. As my old mum used to say "It's no big and it's no clever"!

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  13. jill stephenson studied history..and couldnt do anything other than see nazi influences

    What irks her is that she can see that before she even got her degree, Mhairi Black made History.

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  14. "Classic troll, makes controversial pronouncements then sits back to see the reaction", cant remember who wrote this but I get the feeling it may apply in this case.

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  15. What do you mean close to losing the plot? He already has! He is a Brit Nat. Oh and I don't remember Alex Salmond calling any woman a slut. Since slut seems to a word that just rolls of the acidic tongues of jealous Brit Nats.

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  16. WeSaidNoToYesMenJuly 8, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    Hahahaha, I remember when some idiot with a spittle-flecked monitor accused moi of being sexist because my username only mentioned men and the rest of the brainwashed tied themselves in knots trying to justify the accusation. Of course when el porko says "wheesht, woman" to an individual it's not sexist at all oh no. Next week, another snp chancer says "quiet there, black man" but he's not being racist oh no.

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    1. And after that ridiculous rant I suppose you think you are clever as opposed to just being a troll? I'm surprised you can read YOUR monitor since it won't just be flecked with spit it will be covered in bile. Go and read some of the vilest stuff on Twitter and you will find it under SNP out or some other BritNaz heading.

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  17. That last comment was from James Coleman. I haven't quite got the hang of the posting methodology!

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