Dangerous ignorance

Trawling through the list of websites which are part of my regular intake of news and views I encountered one which seems to typify the dangerous, opinionated ignorance that infests discussion of what is now regrettably but ineluctably label the ‘Sturgeon/Salmond affair’. I decline to link to the blog site in question because I have no way of knowing what other ignorance lies there waiting to infect the minds of visitors. In this instance I unapologetically offer no attribution for the following extract from a short article posted yesterday (25 February).

The Tories, kid-on-Labour, Wee Wullie Rennie’s mob, the usual news media presenters, the (Not) the Scotsman, and the HeraldEngland are all piling in on the back of the wrath of those who concur with the theories, and allegations, of underhanded conspiracy around the investigations into the behaviour of former First Minister Alex Salmond. ‘Ya dancer, sleaze and corruption’, calls the grinning ermine-cloaked Colonel Ruth from atop her Challenger tank, ‘evil separatism is crumbling and we don’t even need to do much to help it on its way. The Nats are eating themselves. Rule Britannia!!!’

As even moderately well-informed individuals will be aware, there are no “investigations into the behaviour of former First Minister Alex Salmond”. There is an investigation into the behaviour of the incumbent First Minister and there is a separate investigation into the behaviour of her administration. There are no “investigations into the behaviour of former First Minister Alex Salmond”.

It will doubtless be protested that Salmond’s behaviour was under investigation. This may be true, but that investigation has been concluded and Salmond has been acquitted. The only inquiries ongoing at this time are those I have mentioned.

This is far from the only and perhaps not even the worst example of an all too prevalent fallacy that portrays Alex Salmond as the perpetrator of a vengeful campaign against Nicola Sturgeon. He is accused of pursuing this vendetta without any explanation ever being given as to exactly how he might do this. I have seen numerous comments which imply – at the very least – that one or both of the current inquiries is an instrument of Alex Salmond’s retribution. Some seem even to believe that these inquiries were initiated by him. Ask how he, as an ‘ordinary’ citizen, might go about initiating two formal inquiries one by a Parliamentary Committee and one by an independent QC, and you will get no sensible response. Because there is no way he could have done this.

Alternatively, or additionally, it is claimed that Salmond is using the inquiries even if he didn’t start them. Again, the question is how. What has he actually done, other than provide the testimony that has been required of him? He has held no press conferences by which to launch personal attacks on Nicola Sturgeon. Neither has he hijacked any press briefing on a totally separate matter in order to launch such an attack. All he has done is provide written testimony under oath about the issues being investigated. That is all!

Another assertion that is depressingly common even though having no basis in fact is that Salmond has been ‘awkward’ with the Parliamentary Committee – constantly agreeing to appear and then calling off at the last minute. None of those making such assertions trouble themselves to consider the reasons for the postponements. In every instance it has been because the Committee or some other agency has unilaterally altered or breached the terms of the arrangements made for Salmond’s oral testimony. Often with little or no notice.

Salmond is also alleged by some – I have seen this – to have repeatedly altered his written testimony. In fact, his original submission remains unchanged by him. The only changes to it have been the redactions insisted on by the Committee or the Crown Office or whoever. Text that was agreed was subsequently deemed unpublishable. Again, as often as not at the eleventh hour. Salmond had no choice but to postpone his oral testimony as these alterations to his written testimony significantly impacted on what he was and was not permitted to speak to in his oral testimony. He postponed the sessions because changes to his written submission meant that to testify would be to place himself in legal jeopardy. He withdrew on very strict legal advice.

At no time has it been made clear to Salmond or his lawyers what he is and more importantly is not allowed to talk about. And yet he is threatened with legal action if he says a word out of place. It’s ludicrous!

This abysmal ignorance of what really going on is being actively encouraged by those who are pursuing a vendetta – against Alex Salmond. Absolutely nothing that is now happening with regard to this affair is his doing. And yet he is being blamed for all of it. That is some serious ignorance. Dangerous ignorance!

Why is it dangerous? Because to function effectively democracy requires that the people be enabled to make informed choices. Choices made in ignorance can only ever be the right choices by some miraculous chance. This is also why Nicola Sturgeon’s remarks during yesterday’s Covid briefing are so deplorable. Juries do make informed choices. They reach their verdict having heard and seen all the evidence. To impugn that verdict is attack the very foundations of law and justice on which our society stands – a shameful act. For the First Minister of Scotland to cast aspersions on a jury’s informed verdict represent an appalling display of contempt for our system of justice and shames the entire nation. That justice system may not be perfect but it will not be made better by undermining the public’s trust.

Ignorance is strength! So, in part, goes the motto of the grim totalitarian government in George Orwell’s 1984. And it is true! Ignorance is strength! But it is not the ignorant who are strengthened. The ignorant are weakened. They come to lack the tools with which to counter the efforts of those who for their own malign purposes would seek to keep them ignorant. When people are ignorant they become empty vessels waiting to be filled with prejudice and misdirected anger. Knowledge/information is power. Ignorance is the opposite. To be ignorant is to be powerless.

And yet so many choose ignorance over readily available genuine information. That is truly dangerous.

13 thoughts on “Dangerous ignorance

  1. Exactly Peter.

    Nicola and the MSM are treating this like a second trial of Alex Salmond. They lost the criminal one, so now they are going after his character.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Amen.

    Add to the list the masturbatory prurience of BBC Robinson at every opportunity bringing up again and again what “Salmond himself admitted in court” that he was a bit touchy feely.

    He interviewed Stephen Gethins this morning, who managed to steer a careful line against Robinson’s slime and innuendo. Perhaps Stephen is the man to move in and clear up this unholy mess.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I frequently consider that we Scots are too stupid to be entrusted with our Independence if it wasn’t for the fact that this sort of stupidity & ignorance crosses the border & infects the entirety of the UK. If it wasn’t completely against the principles of democracy I’d be suggesting that in order to vote in any election, every citizen has to pass a 500 question exam on current affairs with at least an 80% pass mark.

    It annoys me when supporters of other parties are so ignorant (but they are expected to be, aren’t they? Otherwise they’d be voting with me rather than against me) but when it is fellow travellers on the road to an independent Scotland, I really despair.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well said.

    The ignorance is quite breathtaking. But it doesn’t seem to matter how many times you say “It’s the ‘Sturgeon/Sturgeon administration’ inquiries” people just don’t listen. (Some don’t want to of course, as they have other agendas).

    All the ad hominem attacks in the so-called ‘Salmond/Sturgeon affair’ have come from the First Minister in a blizzard of deflection, distraction and diversion. In the very same sentence the First Minister says that the court decision must be respected and then goes onto undermine the veracity of that very same outcome. The First Minister demands that Alex Salmond provide evidence to support his ‘assertions’ (her word) and when he does, somehow as if by magic, that proof is censored.

    If Alex Salmond does, separately and under his own steam, take those to task who have defamed him on multiple occasions over the last 3 years (and especially since he was acquitted) it will because he will want to protect and restore his reputation. Ignorant people mistake the search for justice as seeking vengeance.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It was unfortunate the First Minister chose to answer a journalist’s question at the Covid update, as it have nothing to do with Covid,
    And just as she has often times refused to answer questions on Independence for that reason, she should have refused to answer that one.
    Also, most unfortunate was her “ego” comment in Parliament.
    It is doing great damage to her reputation now.
    As for continued “guilty” comments, we see routinely, folks in the newspaper forums talk about the “victims” and it is annoying to see.
    It must be infuriating for Alex Salmond, tho.
    But the newspapers themselves played a large part in this, the way they went out their way to question the jury following the end of the Court case.
    A BC Radio Four news report last week mentioned this sag, and just so happened to tel us, Salmond had faced Court charge, but omit to say he had been cleared on all counts.
    That must have been quite deliberate editing on the story.
    Stuff like that only makes this contempt all the worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But it wasn’t just one question during the Covid briefing. It was a series of questions. Which looked very much as if it was prearranged. I’m not saying it was prearranged. Only that if it had been prearranged that is what it would have looked like.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Agree completely, Peter. Lost count of the number of times I’ve pointed out that Alex Salmond didn’t set up the Enquiry, didn’t ask to come before it and is only giving his version of events as he is surely entitled to do.

    Liked by 1 person

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