Donald MacInnes: Rarely have threats of violence been backed by such feeble reasons


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The Independent Online

Rarely have I caused so much offence.

Rarely has the anger which normally dwells, thankfully fettered, deep within the average Independent reader, been so dangerously loosed. In fact, the only time that the levels of reader abuse have exceeded that of the past fortnight was after I made the quite genuinely silly mistake of expressing the hope that Glasgow Rangers FC would slip and slide into financial oblivion, just before they went ahead and did it anyway.

For some reason, many Rangers fans took this as nothing less than my inadvertent revelation of what they understood to be a Celtic-coloured underskirt, but I was actually motivated by quite another cause. (Anyway, I wouldn’t follow Celtic if you gave me a lifetime’s supply of Quavers.) I shan’t reiterate that actual cause I was espousing as, much and all as I enjoyed the thrill of getting threats of violence in my email inbox, it does tend to clog up one’s spam filter.

In the same way that the angry (and predominantly blue-of-nose) Glaswegians misunderstood my reasoning behind poking some gentle fun at them, the same has happened with two sections of society which, one would hope, would be less predisposed to promises of punching and warnings of dire doings in the region of my face and, to be perfectly frank, private region. Those sections of society are the Scots (or one in particular, but more of him later) and little old ladies.

I refer, of course, to the elderly females I had a wee dig at last week, when I commented that their uniform adoption of the strap-wrapped-around-the-neck method of anti-mugger handbag use made them look a bit, well, overly defensive and ready for combat. I wasn’t even particularly having a go at them, so much, as the fact that they have been scared into the false understanding that they are most at risk of street crime. There is also the somewhat pertinent factor to be taken into account that, now how shall I put this … I WAS JOKING. Exactly when was it that someone told you this column was meant to be taken seriously? Every week I make sure I remind you how useless I am as a journalist.

Right, that’s that. The second item on the agenda is the foamy-mouthed reaction of one reader to my suggestion that Scots, by and large, had (and have) the tiniest wee bit of a chip on their shoulders when it comes to England. Mr Disproportionately-Angry from Fife spluttered: “How dare you suggest that all Scots are anti-English. I’m not.” And good for you, Mr D-A. But are you seriously trying to convince me that, even on a minuscule level, most Scots don’t feel slightly different about the notion of England and Englishness than they do about, say, the Welsh? Or the Danes? As Obi-Wan Kenobi said to Skywalker: “Search your feelings, Luke. It cannot be long since the phrase, ‘Typical bloody English’ escaped from you mouth.”

If it never has, you’re a better man than I.

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