Scotland: a nation busy being born
Scotland is in the process of being born. Our umbilical cord will be cut on the 18th of September this year. That is the historic day when Scots will place our crosses on the ballot paper to let the world know that enough is enough.
The Yes Campaign is a grass roots campaign. It is a campaign that cherishes creativity, cherishes individuality. This is a campaign that has learnt how to handle disagreements – of which there are many – maturely: live and let live; shake hands and move on. Those issues we can’t settle immediately, we put on the back burner. We can’t resolve all our disagreements all in one go. What’s your problem?
What is Better Together’s problem? How long have you got?
Better Together relies on Labour’s core vote, a constituency that is fragmenting with bitterness and exasperation, as I tap these keys. Johann Lamont’s embrace of the Toxic Tories has transformed Scottish Labour’s core vote into a highly unstable uranium atom, one on the edge of splitting, setting off a chain reaction of self annihilation.
The list of names Johann Lamont read out at last week’s First Minister’s Questions is a very strange list. Those she claims have been insulted by Alex Salmond tend to be those the Labour Party was formed to insult. What escapes Johann Lamont is that, with barely a single exception, those ‘insulted’ are very, very rich and reactionary institutions and individuals.
While it is true that she crow-barred the STUC into her list, this inclusion was utterly disingenuously. No democratic vote has been taken within the STUC to back her defense of the United Kingdom. Johann Lamont cannot be allowed to get away with pretending Scottish trade unionists back her apologetics for George Gideon Osborne on a shared currency or anything else.
The only vote within the trade union movement in Scotland found not a single individual who backed Better Together. In percentage terms,, her camp lost by the jaw dropping margin of infinity percent. If Comrade Lamont wants to put that on her CV, good luck to her.
Johann Lamont clutched at the straw of David Bowie. Apparently she wants Scots to be impressed by the ‘love bombing’ of an old age pensioner, a multimillionaire who is not a Scot and hasn’t lived in the United Kingdom for years. Seriously? Is she drunk? David Bowie is an extremely talented individual, one whose music I have always loved. His putting his foot in it vis–vis Scotland’s right to self determination is fine by me. If he wanted to make an argument in defense of what he argues, then let him come to Scotland to do that, to be cross examined by supporters of the Yes Campaign. I am sure we would win him over. And even if we didn’t, we would immunize any music fan from his ill-judged appeal. Artists screw up all the time. We forgive them when they do this. It is what children do. Good publicity stunt for most of his fans though it may have been, in Scotland David Bowies appeal for Scots to vote against independence makes zero impact either way. The fact Johann Lamont doesn’t know that speaks volumes as to exactly how out of touch with reality she is. While Bowie’s intervention makes no impact on the referendum vote, that most emphatically is not true of Scotland’s creative community.
Scotland’s cultural renaissance and the role artists play
For generations, Scotland has been undergoing something of a cultural renaissance. Hurray for us. A lot of this has passed me by because I am not that into nationalism. But these people have managed to get the referendum onto the agenda. The fact that I want for my English and Welsh brothers and sisters what is now on the agenda here is no reason to turn my nose up at the potential for freedom of five million people: Scotland today; England and Wales tomorrow. Join us in the twenty first century when you’re ready, comrades.
Scotland is not gifted by special genes. We are a multiplicity of ethnicities. That is fine. We have a few of the greatest physicists who have ever lived. Nobel Prize winner Peter Higgs is probably not appreciated by most Scots, yet, as much as the world’s scientific community would like. But most Scots still don’t know how important James Clerk Maxwell is either. Maybe when we secure our independence, we will celebrate our scientists every bit as enthusiastically as we do Rabbie Burns. Scottish scientists should be celebrated while accepting that James Clerk Maxwell and Peter Higgs only contributed so much to humanity because they stood on the shoulders of previous generations of scientists from all over the world. Scotland can never thrive cut off from the rest of the world, in science, literature, drama, poetry, music or anything else. And, it should go without saying, we have no intention of doing that.
Why does this blog refer to sexual harassment?
Scotland will enter the world of free nations on 18th of September with a blank sheet. The thousand flowers blooming will become a beautiful garden of five million. We will unleash the creativity of children of all ages. We will think outside the box. And we won’t reject ideas just because they are proposed by people with no track record, older people whose initiative and self confidence had been crushed out of themselves at school and by elitists and disciplinarians working within a narrow Union Jack straight-jack . Everyone can have a good idea. I think I might even have two of them!
One of the ideas I would like to propose to the Scottish people, and also to those further afield, relates to how to civilized societies deal with sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence.
There are two sets of opposed rights that all democrats need to cherish, values that seem to conflict when it comes to allegations of rape and sexual harassment. We are faced with a problem that seems to divide progressives into two warring factions, ferrets in a sack who refuse to even listen to each other. Civilized people need to accept that each of these groups champion one key element of the solution. Nevertheless, both of them generally insist on removing one pillar to an all-rounded solution. On the contrary, they all to often wield it as a weapons, swinging it wildly to knock down the other side’s house of cards. I think I can see a way out of this disaster for progressives. I may be wrong, and am okay with others telling me I m talking nonsense. Anyway, here is my idea…
Cyber-mace as mobile phone app
Society will never solve the problem posed by rape and sexual harassment until we identify the problems with the two main approaches to these scars. There are two injustices that have to be dealt with simultaneously. The ‘debate’ on this question has become so polarized that it resembles a long drawn-out version of Scot Night’s notorious Johann Lamont-Nicola Sturgeon scream-fest. No one is prepared to stop talking,, to so much as take time out to breath and listen to what the other is saying. This is depressing beyond measure.
The two injustices that all democrats have to prioritize are, on the one hand, securing justice for all those who have suffered any form of sexual abuse (regardless of their age, gender or sexual orientation), but also, simultaneously, securing this without opting for a ‘collective punishment’ that is indifferent to targeting innocent men. No serious democrat can object to this proposal. However, no one seems to have any idea how to do both of these things simultaneously. Well, I am arrogant enough to suggest that maybe I do see a way out of this dilemma.
A section of society insists that all the accused are by definition guilty. They insist that the courts should exist simply to rubber stamp the accused going to jail, inevitably to be gang raped by gangsters, including fascists they may have dedicated themselves to putting in jail over a number of years, if not decades. Sorry, comrades, but there is nothing in the least bit democratic in such an approach. Watch Twelve Angry Men or The Crucible if that is how your mind works.
Anyone who is content with collective punishment of all men has taken leave of their senses. I do not say that as a man, but as a human being, someone who shares the same values as every opponent of sexual harassment.
Collective punishment of innocent men for the crimes of other men happens to be an attack on mothers of sons, sisters of brothers, loving wives of loving husbands, loving daughters of loving fathers. Even if we are not men, not heterosexual, even if we have no living male relative who could be in danger of being subject to summary justice without a fair trial, that is besides the point. We all have workmates, and neighbours. We are all human beings. We are humane. We are civilized. We do not tolerate the Nazi concept of ‘collective punishment’, whether it is of men, Jews, Muslims or anyone else.
Believing someone who says they’ve been raped is essential to get justice. That is a fact. However, when it comes to the trail, the accused needs to have the evidence scrutinized with the greatest of care, if they deny the charge. The accuser has to be subject to fair cross examination, just in case there has not been a crime. Only a jury can settle the guilt or otherwise of the accused. And trial by media or any vigilante group helps no one secure justice.
Corroboration in the real world
What about corroboration? This is what I want to discuss. When it comes to rape, the jury will be faced with the problem of who do you believe. Was the sex consensual or not? No one seems to have a solution to this. But I think I might. What I propose is not necessarily a solution to every act of sexual violence or sexual harassment. But it might address many of these these crimes, might force the guilty to plead guilty more or less immediately. Even more important, it just might lead to offenders realizing they are not going to get away with it, so they may as well not consider becoming a barbarian in the first place. What I propose may help almost all men grow up, in the process protecting most women from the threat of any form of sexual abuse, including sexual harassment in the form of offensive ‘jokes’, or so-called flirts that many men are encouraged (by Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid garbage, The SUN) to think is ‘just a bit of fun’.
What I propose is that woman are universally granted the right to use an app on their mobile phone at the very first sign of any threat of sexual abuse, including harassment, verbally, groping or whatever. The phone could record the voices of both parties, uploaded to a server that is secure and encrypted. A recording that would be available to a jury in the event of this going to court. Men would soon learn when any flirtation is unwanted, that they have been told is unwelcome, constitutes a crime. Unless they cut it out they’ll find themselves in court, possibly in jail, and most certainly sacked. And managers and employers won’t be immune to this neither. Every man would be treated equally.
While a mobile phone app would only record voice, is it not possible that the harassment may take a more physical form, and that this may not be detectable by sound recording alone? Yes. That’s perfectly possible. To deal with this, maybe there could by an app that can send a signal to a nearby CCTV camera, alerting it to focus on the woman with the phone.
This may not work on every single occasion. But it may create an environment where workplace sexual harassment becomes a thing of the past. What I am proposing is certainly a set of restrictions on my liberty that I would happily surrender to ensure that sexual violence is minimized if not eliminated. Men realize they won’t get away with it, so they may as well not even think about it. And it will make it virtually impossible for innocent men to be falsely accused. Everyone’s a winner, right?