Live and let live, not fire and brim­stone

The Scotsman - - Scottish Perspective -

The con­cept of “oth­er­ness” ap­plies, more or less, when a so­cial group which re­gards its own norms as su­pe­rior looks down its nose at those who rep­re­sent dif­fer­ence.

He­brideans have long been “oth­ered”, mainly from within Scot­land. The is­land of Lewis, where I live, has been par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble be­cause it is also iden­ti­fied as the last bas­tion of Pres­by­te­ri­an­ism. And what could be more “other” than that?

Last week­end, there was a small Gay Pride march in Stornoway. Hardly any­one lo­cally bat­ted an eye­lid. Live and let live is a more com­mon sen­ti­ment than fire and brim­stone. There will al­ways be a quotable dog-col­lar if you look hard enough but that is true any­where.

A con­ver­sa­tion I had with a Lewis woman whose son was com­ing home last week­end could have hap­pened any­where in Scot­land. He wanted to be there to “bring clo­sure to the bul­ly­ing I suf­fered at school”.

Yet the me­dia cov­er­age was stag­ger­ing in pro­por­tion to the event’s sig­nif­i­cance. The “oth­ers”, yet again, had to be scru­ti­nised for the cu­rios­ity of met­ro­pol­i­tan smar­ties. The worst ex­am­ple was the An­drew Marr Show un­der the guise of a news­pa­per re­view.

The host mar­velled at such hap­pen­ings on a “Free Pres­by­te­rian is­land”. (Not much re­search there). De­frocked Na­tion­al­ist MP, John Ni­col­son, went into pa­tro­n­is­ing over­drive. “Tar­tan Tale­ban … dour Pres­by­te­ri­ans … tinged with in­tol­er­ance”.

We had the same drivel re­cently when a mosque opened with a warmer wel­come than would have been avail­able in most places.

If such com­men­ta­tors are so in­ter­ested in is­lands, maybe they could pay the same at­ten­tion to is­sues like de­pop­u­la­tion, trans­port, the fight for a cul­ture. Or per­haps the real “other” are in the stu­dios. Nor­mal­ity is closer to home.

Hardly any­one bat­ted an eye­lid when a Pride march was held in Stornoway, says Brian Wil­son

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