By Paul T Kavanagh
The Daily Mail has embarked on a witch hunt of “evil cybernats”.  It’s the same old story from a publication which panders to the basest instincts of the uneducated and the willfully misinformed, it’s only the target which has changed.
Back in the early 1980s, during the Aids hysteria, an acquaintance was outed by a newspaper.  It was one of the usual suspects given to demonising innocent and powerless members of the public, either the Daily Mail or the Express, I can’t remember which now. 

His ‘crime’ was to organise private parties for gay men, and his punishment was to have his personal details and photo plastered all over a gutter rag, describing him as a sleazy pervert.

He wasn’t out as gay to his work or his family, this was the early 80s after all.  The newspaper report caused him to lose his job and estranged him from many of his relatives.  He struggled to keep up with his mortgage payments and almost lost his home.

My friend was not involved in anything that would raise an eyebrow these days – nor even back then if you were a normal human being instead of a tabloid rag.  He did not organise sex parties, just quiet and very douce gatherings where gay men could meet up and chat in an era when there were few public spaces available and many gay people were suffering dreadful social isolation.  Most of us, myself included in those days, were not out as gay to our families, straight friends or work colleagues.  We had few opportunities to meet other gay folk.

Even though the events were strictly sex-free zones, my friend rigorously enforced an age bar and refused to allow anyone under the age of 21 – then the legal age of consent – to attend.  But the law in those days permitted gay sex only in private, and ‘private’ was legally defined as no more than two persons being present on the premises.  Any gathering of more than two gay men, for whatever purpose, was a target for tabloid purience.

When the tabloids see you as a vile and disgusting sex-beast, any gathering becomes a ‘perverted sex orgy’ even when the most orgiastic thing that happens is cooing over how delicious the home baked cakes are, and if you were lucky swapping contact details for later and more intimate meetings.

My friend had the misfortune to live in a day when gay people were one of the tabloids’ favourite bogeymen.  According to the Sun and the Mail, we were all part of an international conspiracy to destroy the family and spread disease.  Their current demonisation of the mythical cybernat conspiracy is very much in the same diseased and deformed mould.

That wasn’t something any of us expected to change back when gay people were seen by the tabloids as the number one threat to public health and morality.  You had to learn to ignore the insults, the slander, the threats and the oppression, but it took a toll and eventually something snapped inside me.

One day I woke up and thought “fuck this for a gemme o sodgies” and resolved to tell my family and friends the truth.  It wasn’t easy back in the 1980s in a working class part of Glasgow and a deeply Catholic family, but it was the best decision I ever made.  And I wasn’t the only gay man or lesbian making that decision.  The closet doors were popping open across the land.  We weren’t going to stand for it any more.  30 years later the gay rights campaign has won all the legal arguments, and legal discrimination is a thing of the past.

Yet here were are 30 years on and the tabloids have found a new target.  Now it’s independence supporters who are part of an imaginary conspiracy to destroy all that is Great and British.  In 1980 I never imagined that one day it would not be permissible to insult and threaten me for being gay, but perfectly acceptable to insult and threaten me for being Scottish.  That’s what happens when a minority get “uppity”, and currently from the perspective of the London media bubble, Scots are very uppity indeed.

The lesson I learned was that you can only be silenced when you collude with those who seek to oppress you.  Fear lives only inside your own head.  The tabloids seek to create fear and by targeting a few individuals hope to dissuade others from putting their heads above the parapet.  But when you are out and proud, tabloid threats have no purchase – what are they going to do?  Tell my mother I have sex with men?  She already knows.  It’s not me who is afraid, it’s the tabloids who seek to demonise.  They are afraid of me.

Those who have been targeted by the tabloids for daring to express opinions in favour of independence need to realise that they are not the ones with cause to fear.  The fear the tabloids seek to generate within you is a weapon you can use.  Instead of provoking fear it provokes righteous anger, and that anger provides the energy to continue to fight against them.  And you already know that you scare them.

When you live in the light you cannot be threatened by the darkness.  The way to avoid the fear provoked by the tabloids and the media is to give them no purchase against you.  If you haven’t already done so, tell everyone you know that you support independence, it’s not a shameful secret, it’s something to be proud of.  Be out, be proud, live without fear.  Then when some sleazy tabloid reporter doorsteps your neighbours or your colleagues and tells them you are an evil cybernat who says nasty things about Unionist politicians they will reply, “So what?”

Gay people have largely won their struggle for equality, despite forming only a small minority of the population.  Independence supporters make up a far far larger proportion of the Scottish population.  This is a struggle we are not going to lose unless we collude with the Daily Mail.  That’s not going to happen.  Just like the late 1980s when closet doors burst open and gay men and lesbians refused to live in silence, the independence closet is well and truly open and Scots are going through it in droves – out into the light.

This uppity Scot has every intention of continuing to be uppity, and I’ll keep doing what I can in my own small way to get it up Westminster politicians and their lackeys in the press some more. I won’t be alone.  Cybernat conspiracy my arse, it’s the anger of righteous indignation.

Courtesy of Wee Ginger Dug


Ben Power
2014-01-25 10:42

Brilliant inspirational article.
Thank you.
Suggest it be shared far and wide.
2014-01-25 11:14

Excellent article Paul.. perhaps we should commission some new “YES – and PROUD” badges for distribution.
2014-01-25 11:43

The expression the “Thin Red Line” has its origins in the Crimean War, 25th Oct 1854, when the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders strung out in line formation stood firm and repulsed a charge from Russian cavalry determined to seize Balaclava, the port where supplies and logistics for the British were virtually unguarded. Anybody who knows Waterloo knows that infantry of the period needed to form squares to protect itself from cavalry. Forming squares however would have allowed the Russians to fall upon Balaclava. For the line formation to hold firm in these desperate circumstances was quite remarkable, and a tremendous testimony to the will of the 93rd, the original “thin red line”.

I have always seen my country as a bastion of resolve where those people born with the courage to stand up for their convictions are commonplace. The Eric Liddles amongst us are less remarkable to us than they are to the Chinese, and so it should always be.
2014-01-25 12:52

The British state security services have a long history of collusion with extreme right wing London newspapers.I hope they manage to restrain their activities as far as our democratic referendum process is concerned.They don’t want to create a situation where a very large number of people feel disenfranchised because of their activities.They have enough to worry about with all the people the British state has upset around the world without doing the same at home.
2014-01-25 14:02

Good point Bringiton.

7th April 2015 will be the 30th anniversary of Willie MacRae’s death. Since the referendum will be decided by then, perhaps the truth will finally emerge.

It’s interesting to speculate how MI5 views Scottish independence. I don’t expect they’ll support us for an instant of course, but they might be amongst the first to recognise that change is on the cards, and that an independent Scotland, complete with its long memory, is a much better friend to have on your doorstep than provoke a sullen brooding enemy.

The further irony is that MI5 might have greater grievances and frustrations with the hapless coordination of the Unionist campaign.

Never say never, but if they do have something up their sleeve, it will need to be clever to have any purchase on YES momentum. Irony upon irony, the suspicious death of Mr MacRae makes the very possibility of any slight of hand carry on all too credible & harder to pull off.

2014-01-25 14:54

Thanks Paul for a good right to the point article, which is a lot more than anyone can expect from the Daily Mail.

And if that crap newspaper think they can intimidate the YES campaign and their supporters they are going to get a very big shock.

And I dont think it will take much for them to make a mistake with their form of intimidation and it end up with the police being involved. And I certainly would’nt shed any tears to see a Daily Mail journalist being arrested.

Just when you think the “No campaign” and its supporters can’t get any lower they prove you wrong.
2014-01-25 18:14

I thoroughly agree that all in the YES campaign make it plain that that’s their opinion. I had a ‘YES’ badge on my lapel when I visited a consultant recently. He commented on it and I answered, ‘It’s the way to go, man!’ We can be totally open about it since at least half of Scots think this way. In fact, it’s our duty to proselytise it.
The vindictive little MAIL will not influence many. It’s as extreme and unbelievable as the scaremongering of PROJECT FEAR. They themselves are terrified of us choking off the oil and tax revenue that is the lifeblood of prosperity in London. They know it’s coming.
2014-01-25 19:26

There are so many minorities in this wonderful country of ours that together they make the majority.

YES will win because a tenet of all minorities is the belief that there will be something better.
2014-01-26 00:44

First class Paul.

I didnae feel like givin’ up today anyway. 🙂
2014-01-26 23:35

I’m just saying but attacking a homophobic D. Mail of decades ago doesn’t really defend the quality of cybernat sites. In the A-Z Myth/Fact it is twice suggested that declining oil reserves don’t mean a proportionate decline in revenue but Scotland doesn’t own all the world’s so it very well may. The Darien section is inaccurate and irrelevant unless it is important to make the dubious suggestion that the union wasn’t useful to Scotland. There are other inaccuracies too. “We’d abandon the English to decades of Tory rule.” isn’t even a myth it’s a likelihood. Saying elsewhere on this site that for every £9.90 generated Scotland gets £9.30 is just wrong. For D. Mail criticisms to be baseless writing accurate articles seems important. I will vote Yes but not because of any of this. There are plenty of valid accurate points to make so I don’t know why this site misleads as I doubt it would sway floating voters. This one is for the moderators I suppose.
2014-01-27 18:59

Could you tell us why you will vote Yes nelsterm?

Please do share with us the valid, accurate points you wish to make. I’m sure you will find a receptive audience here.

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