For such a long time the CyberNat has been regarded with disdain, even disgust, and I am no great supporter of anonymous online abuse in any form as that is utterly gutless.
However we are all aware of the far more poisonous mirror image of the the CyberNat - let's call this particular animal the CyberNOT.
Every pro-Yes article that is published attracts the CyberNOT troll with a vengeance and the level of debate drops to sub-basement level immediately. The CyberNOT is far more insidious than anything I've come across in the mainstream media and, frankly, is almost Talibanic in its quest to obfuscate in any way beyond reason. The quasi-religious zeal in which Yes arguments are attacked and scorned is beyond anything that I have witnessed or been party to.
I bring this subject up as I have found myself the target of CyberNOT abuse simply for having the temerity to express an opinion or two in an open and transparent manner on a public forum. Cut-outs - anonymous temporary Facebook accounts - will happily send obnoxious private messages and then disappear as fast as they arrived on the scene. Brave behaviour.
There are other silly little things as well which are not necessarily conducted by cut-outs. Last October my Yes Tallinn account was messaged by someone with the following:
"What is your real interest in Scottish Independence? My husband works much of the time in Estonia and has not heard of you."
Well, let's set out a few simple facts. Estonia is a country the size of Switzerland. Tallinn is a city with the population of Edinburgh, Bristol or Belfast. Is it incumbent upon me to go out and make myself known to every foreigner who turns up in the country? As a Scot I am familiar with the supposed tiny nature of my own country: "Oh you're Scottish? You must know Jimmy. Where's he from? Scotland of course. I don't know the town but it's Jimmy. You must know him. Red hair..." Sound familiar? No, I do not hang out in the ex-pat bars in the square mile of Tallinn's Old Town and I visit that part of the city probably less than half a dozen times a year. It's like imagining that someone who lives in Edinburgh MUST spend all their time down the Grassmarket if they would really exist to the wider world.
As it was this particular messager was not abusive, but doubting someone's motives or ambitions simply because her husband has not heard of me is less than substantive as an argument. I am not going to name that messager as that is a pointless exercise which stoops as low as the CyberNOT Instead I openly engaged that person with a selection of information but sadly (or predictably?), up to now, she remains silent.
So brothers and sisters of Yes, I implore you to be lucid, transparent and reasonable in all that you write, disseminate, or otherwise share. Keep it clean and keep it honourable. Engage the CyberNOT But always, always, always be better than the CyberNOT He is scared, his arguments are built on sand, his only defence strident voices and he will always try to shout you down. We are better than the CyberNOT We have the arguments to win the battle. It is for this very reason that the CyberNOT is on the rise.
I'll say it again and again until I'm blue in the face (saves on saltire face paint, eh?) keep it clean. Keep it concise. Don't invent stuff just to sound clever. State your source whenever possible. Remain reasonable, even in the face of the CyberNOTic Taliban, If you are at a loss you could do a lot worse than go back to first principles and read McCrone again - that will re-energise you.
Get out there and engage and always remember that if we stay out of the gutter then we will always be better than the CyberNOT. Always. 100% of the time.
The face of intolerant Scotland - public enemy no.1! Aye, on the left...
But if that's not enough to bear I hear only this morning that Iain Lawson has had a run in with the uber-CyberNOTs – the CyberStasi. I'll leave it him to explain:
"Just been "moderated," polite word for censored, by the Herald for merely pointing out that the two academics involved in the Treasury document have now accused the Treasury of grossly misrepresenting their work and that therefore the Treasury paper can no longer be classified a serious research paper and should now be classified as propaganda and that responsible media organisations, like the BBC and others should report it as such. Such is life in Soviet Scotland these days. Postcards from the gulag later."
This must be seen to be rather sinister as Jim Naughtie openly mentioned this on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning and although probably not as incisively as Iain he laid it out that there would be refutation and a case of "he said, she said." Why would the Herald need to try to gag something which is already out in the open?