I said yesterday that it was puzzling that no matter how outrageous the actions of pro-GRR campaigners at rallies that SNP politicians attend, the SNP leadership never seem to feel shamed into explicitly condemning it or properly distancing themselves from it - because, after all, if there were anti-English placards at a pro-indy rally, seventeen days of collective national shame would probably be automatically announced. In fairness I was proved wrong on this occasion - the SNP leadership did condemn yesterday's incident in Glasgow, although the suspicion must be that the change in tack only happened because of how politically damaging it all was. The ultra-close proximity of SNP politicians to placards calling for women to be murdered, mutilated and cannibalised was what made the episode so unusual and dangerous. If you crop the photos in a certain way, the hate-speech placards almost look like a "twibbon" that Kaukab Stewart or Kirsten Oswald have deliberately added to a beaming profile pic, ie. "I'm Kaukab Stewart and I think TERFs should be..."
And the fact that condemnation has occurred this time means that it's reasonable to pose a question of the SNP and Green leaderships: if you don't think "TERFs" should be put to death, why not? That may seem a strange thing to ask, but we know that you think "TERFs" are bigots who are not fit for human company, and who should be ostracised and who nobody should ever share a political platform with. We know that you think they shouldn't, in many cases, be allowed to have a career, because pressure is often put on employers to take draconian action against them. We know from the sacking of Joanna Cherry two years ago that you don't think they're fit to serve on the SNP front bench. We know from the incendiary words of Maggie Chapman and John Nicolson that you don't think they have any place in our parliament and should leave politics altogether - even though they represent the views of the vast majority of the general public. You believe, in short, that they should suffer a 'civil death', and it's therefore perhaps unsurprising that some of your fellow travellers would expect you to have no problem with the idea that they should suffer an actual death. If you genuinely do have a problem with calls for them to be murdered, it's high time you explained to some of the people who attended that rally yesterday why "TERFs" are in fact worthy of life and of personal safety. And if you find those words don't come out easily, perhaps you should ask yourself why, because for anyone who truly believes in liberal democracy it should be the easiest thing in the world. It needs to happen, because when the language of violence is normalised against a certain group, actual violence tends to follow sooner or later.
The reality is that there is an obvious tension in thinking a class of people are worthy of a civil death but not of an actual death. Either you dehumanise people and regard them as vermin, or you don't - and if you don't, there's no good reason for subjecting them to a civil death either. We can but hope that yesterday was a psychological watershed that will lead the SNP leadership to start acknowledging that "TERFs" hold views that can be strongly disagreed with but that are nevertheless legitimate to express in a democracy, and that they therefore have a place in parliament, on the SNP front bench, on political platforms, in the workplace, and indeed in absolutely every other walk of life. Only then will some of the heat be taken out of this toxic debate, and the risk of violence will dissipate.
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