Monday, November 22, 2021

A reply to Stephen Paton's disgraceful but meaningless "ultimatum" - aka his ode to intolerance, bullying and purges

(Explanatory note: Stephen Paton has long since blocked me on Twitter, which - with glorious irony - gives me a cast-iron excuse not to even be aware of the pronouns Paton wishes to be referred by.  However, I gather those pronouns are 'they' and 'them'.  In an effort to extend basic good manners to Paton in a way Paton hasn't done to me, I'll be using those pronouns in this blogpost, hence what might appear to be a rather odd use of language.)

Periodically, you'll see someone on social media threatening to cancel their subscription to The National because they're outraged by something written in a column by Mhairi Black, or Stephen Paton, or Michael Fry, or pretty much anyone.  "Should never have been published!" is the mantra.  To which I always point out that you really need to step back and look at the bigger picture, because The National has been, right from its inception, an admirably inclusive newspaper - in a way that the Sunday Herald under Neil Mackay's editorship, for example, was not.  Every significant shade of opinion within the independence movement has been given a platform in The National, from Carolyn Leckie on the radical left, all the way through to Michael Fry on the Thatcherite right.  If you believe in independence, you're in, and your voice will be heard - or at the very least the voice of someone who closely represents your views.  Alba is there (George Kerevan), as is the more radical wing of the SNP (Joanna Cherry). But in return for the tolerance of SNP leadership loyalists and Green supporters when our views get an airing, it's only fair and decent that we also show tolerance when people like Mhairi Black and Alyn Smith get to express their own opinions.  The alternative would be to have a paper that is merely the mouthpiece of one particular narrow faction, and it's doubtful that any such publication would be viable in the long run.

It's rather ironic, though, that Stephen Paton has used their (Paton's) own latest column to denounce any notion that the principle of inclusivity should also apply to the independence movement more broadly.  Paton has penned an ode to intolerance, a hymn for bullying, factionalism and purges.  Specifically, Paton has issued an "ultimatum" demanding that the highly regarded MP Joanna Cherry should be expelled from the SNP parliamentary group at Westminster, simply because they (Paton) personally disagrees with her gender critical views.  Just think about what that actually means for a moment.  The current Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll has shown on question after question after question that the majority of the public broadly share Joanna Cherry's views on matters relating to gender and the GRA, while only a relatively modest minority back Paton's.  If Paton gets their way, it would literally be the case that only 20% of the adult population of Scotland (the ones who back gender self-ID) would even be eligible for consideration as SNP candidates.  A funny sort of "national party of Scotland", that.

Paton's lamentable excuse for insisting upon yet another purge is the silly allegation that Ms Cherry supports "conversion therapy" for trans people.  What she actually said, of course, is that therapists should not be criminalised for helping people with gender dysphoria to become more comfortable with their birth sex.  Paton equates that to "conversion therapy" by rhetorically asking how we would react if Ms Cherry had suggested therapists shouldn't be criminalised for "helping patients with homosexual thoughts feel comfortable with opposite-sex attraction".  But that argument hinges on the premise that gender identity is always as fixed and immutable as homosexuality is - and we know that premise is utterly bogus.  Is Paton suggesting that nobody with gender dysphoria has ever considered transitioning but decided against it after consulting with a therapist, and then ended up being happy they made that choice?  Is Paton suggesting that nobody has ever detransitioned and then been glad they did?  If so, Paton is not arguing honestly.  As the saying goes, facts matter.  Truth matters.

I'd also just note that the whole concept of an "ultimatum" is rather empty given that there is no actual threatened consequences if Paton and fellow travellers don't get their own way - other than the meaningless "or you will lose all credibility on LGBT issues".  As Paton is not a spokesperson for the entirety of the LGBT community (or at least not outside Paton's own head), there can be no reason to think that Paton is any kind of definitive arbiter of who has credibility on LGBT issues.  Paton's attempted blackmail essentially amounts to "do as I say or I'll write another column - and that one will be even angrier".

Best of luck with that, Stephen.


  1. To our resident anti-lockdown nutter: nice try, but my views on Covid have not changed one iota. If I'd been asked in March 2020 whether I was in favour of forced vaccinations, my answer would have been identical.

  2. In the future I will be using the singular, neutar, third person pronoun for Paton : IT.

  3. I left the SNP early this year for a few reasons. The GRA stance was one, the Fabiani Farce, the ferry fiasco, the missing £600k and the lack of movement on Independence to name a few. SNP members have been resigning in droves.
    If Stephen Paton is unhappy with the SNP then leave and take your pals with you. The previous trache of (Out for Indy) who joined the Greens, prompted the famous Sturgeon video appeal from cupboard but that was it.
    Interestingly though, this additional LGBTQ+ vote for the Greens did not result on one singular constituancy seat.
    Stephen, get over yourself.

  4. I'm not totally sure what my views on the whole GRA thing are, but I do know of an interesting and maybe rather sinister situation which my friends and their daughter faced, starting over 5 years ago.
    After a 30 minute session with a psychologist/social worker, the daughter announced she wanted (at age 17) to change sex. She began on a course of hormone treatment which went on for about a couple of years. This changed her physical appearance, as might be expected. She intended to go ahead with surgery, and was fully supported my her parents, siblings and wider family. Suddenly she stopped the hormone treatment and told everyone she thought she had been a lesbian all along and shouldn't have rushed into the sex change process.
    What concerns me is that gay people may be being pressurised to undergo a sex change for the wrong reasons.

  5. "A funny sort of national party of Scotland, that."

    It already is.

  6. Who is this Stephen Paton and why is he deserving of a platform in the National?

    1. He's someone who got a job at a newspaper and now uses that platform to air his personal views.