Author! Author!

My fondest story about JK Rowling was when I asked the barman in my local some years ago what else he was doing to earn a living. He was a huge muscleman who couldn’t care tuppence – about anything or anyone. He said he was labouring – building a wall at a house in Edinburgh – a very fancy wall that was costing a fortune. Who’s the owner, I asked? ‘Some wumman. Writes books. De ken her name.’

Being, as you know, the literary type, I tried a few names…Kennedy? Galloway? Welsh? ‘Nut. Canny mind.’ Someone at the bar leant in close and whispered: ‘It’s JK Rowling. He’s never heard of her.’

My admiration grew. Good on him. Why the Hell should we all have heard of a wumman that writes kiddies’ books?

Well, we’ve all heard of her now. I admit to an aversion to anything – books, films and programmes that come heavily hyped. Don’t tell me what I’ve got to like. That’s not how thrawn Scots work. As a result I avoided all contact with Potter related hysteria and even said on air, when it was announced another of her books was coming out: ‘That’s another I won’t be reading.’ She got me in the end, though, did JK when the kids realised they were living a Potter-free childhood and I was told off smartly. Since then I’ve watched a film on holiday in Portugal and read a book to them chapter by chapter over a week in France. The girls have a number of the titles. I don’t know about the hype but I know a storyteller when I read one and she presses the right buttons for young imaginations. Her real contribution to the world may well be encouraging millions of kids to read.

If you think there’s a But coming at this point…

I was in Waterstone’s on Sauchiehall Street for a coffee and on the stairs they have a display of Potter material. I went to pick up a colouring book (the girls are into the colouring-in craze) and hesitated. What went through my mind wasn’t Harry, wizards or JK but Brian Spanner. I was quite shocked at myself. But I have been so revolted by language of pr**ks, c**ts, female genital mutilation, diarrheoa and other stomach-churning chunder that it is what first came to mind.

I had connected the sickening – and yes, misogynistic – Spanner Twitter account with JK Rowling because I read that she followed it. Then I found myself pondering that same thought over coffee. How could anyone follow something so mind-numbingly awful? The only answer of course was logical – she didn’t see the disgusting tweets. She couldn’t have. No woman I know would buy into that filth even as a joke. Not one.

The accounts I saw of the Rowling affair drew a very clear distinction between her interaction with the Spanner profile in relation to her charity and anything else he may or may not have tweeted. Because you follow an anonymous individual who tweets about named women as shovelled old c**ts doesn’t mean you’ve actually seen those tweets let alone that you would somehow endorse such vile comments (for which the still anonymous Spanner has of course duly apologised).

She has millions of followers so her account is probably mega busy. In fact, she probably has someone running it for her who may make sure she doesn’t see any offensive material. How am I doing?

I have no idea what the story is behind the Rowling-Spanner connection nor why a clutch of mostly right-wing types also follow Spanner – presumably all oblivious to the abusive material. I do know I blocked him two years ago or so because of the deeply unpleasant tone he used rather than the language which then wasn’t so crude. Perhaps there is an in-joke at work. Perhaps they find it all very entertaining.

It certainly didn’t excite the interest of our mainstream journalists some of whom were happy to exclude all mention of the trigger for the whole affair. So we’re left with a perplexing and messy legacy which doesn’t reflect well on anyone.

Even me. I try hard not to allow my politics to prejudice my tastes so I can listen for example to old Nazi Herbert von Karajan conduct the Berlin Philharmonic playing Beethoven. But I fear the horrific nature of Spanner’s output and, so far as I can find online, no attempt to distance herself from what she must surely now know to be a hideous component of his output, has left me not just disappointed but disapproving of Joanne Rowling. Normally, there is no requirement to justify following anyone or to disassociate yourself from their tweets, but this isn’t normal. As Joanne herself said, Natalie McGarry is not a random hater easily dismissed, she’s a public figure. It looks clear to me McGarry was referencing the gutter talk of Spanner when she tweeted. For some of us, a public figure like Joanne not acknowledging the spew of vile tweets we’ve all seen online from the timeline of an account she follows and not clarifying her view on them leaves a sour taste. Is that unreasonable? Have I missed it? Or do we simply assume that, like everybody else, she deplores it and doesn’t need to spell it out? In the circumstances of a controversy which has  brought the odious Spanner into view, I think she owes the public a clear answer.

Far from protecting her reputation, the net effect on me is the opposite and her image is damaged. I associate her with Spanner. For, even if she somehow didn’t see his nauseating tweets originally, she can hardly claim not to know after the recent publicity. Or does someone read and edit all the media for her? Everyone I have talked to has been revolted by the Spanner content and wants to wash their hands afterwards.

I won’t be the only parent reading Harry Potter from now on while hiding from the children my dismay at the author.

You know the other weird thing? As I’ve been writing, I was very conscious of the threat of legal action. On a blog. In a free country. I’ve never experienced that before since I started blogging. And it feels uncomfortable.

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57 thoughts on “Author! Author!

  1. I cannot understand the attraction of Twitter and why so many feel compelled to rush into (nano) print on it’s pages, leaving their brains trailing well behind their typing finger. Repent at leisure comes to mind.

    More serious is the disrepute our legal system is increasingly falling into as rich people from the “Bouncing Czech” of yesteryear to Ms Rowling use the law, or the threat of the law, to silence criticism and bully those who have the temerity to challenge their saintliness. “Charity with menaces” Wings called her “request” for McGarry to apologise and make a charitable donation.

  2. How any woman could possibly continue to “follow” someone as vile as “Brian Spanner” after all the recent publication on what he has been saying about women is beyond my comprehension.

  3. Twitter is quite straightforward. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t be prepared to say to the other person’s face, don’t use offensive language, don’t call people names and finally back up any claims with proof.

    • Her chattering class ‘friends’ like the Darlings et al were seen through and lost influence then it became clear people thought her wealth and fame should not grant her influence other than her vote she spat the proverbial and went south in search of new sycophants like “the greatest headline writer the Sun ever had. Her old and new ‘friends’ show what she is.

  4. While my politics during the referendum were the polar opposite of Rowling’s I did have a certain sympathy for her because of the vile abuse she received from knuckle dragging nationalists. After this affair (and what seems to be her ever increasing desire to be in the spotlight) I am afraid that I have no sympathy left. She is clearly happy to wallow around in this sort of abuse.

    Events over the last few days have shown her to be no more than a vindictive*** who is happy to brandish her wealth and advertise what she can do with it. She can sue me if she likes.

  5. You’ve handled this so well Derek picking your way gingerly through a mine field. The sting in the tail about having to look over your shoulder for low flying litigation threats hints at the darkest part of all of this.

    Is there a right-wing unionist cabal setting out to deliberately create sinister threats supported by supposedly untouchable wealth and chortlingly watching with extremely sick perverted pleasure as they bait good people? Do they think they are merrily pulling our strings and that we are powerless to stop them? Is this what being better together means in 2016?

    The whole thing is symptomatic of a degenerate state in its final death throws when upstart authors of children’s books think they are Caesar. The abuse of wealth and privilege is written all over this story and mirrors the sick abuse of the British people by Westminster power-numpties whose arrogance knows no bounds. At least we will get away before too long – pity the poor buggers in the rest of the UK who will have to live under their yoke when we are gone. I just can’t understand how good people both inside and outside of Scotland don’t see the writing on the wall now.

  6. JK Rowling has been chatting to the international man of mystery since August, and she “liked” a tweet of his yesterday where Spanner explained he only tweeted abuse when few people were following him. Hmm… but Spanner tweeted “Mhairi Black is a nasty little f*ck” just a couple of months ago.

    Then again, JK is a pal of Darling’s better half and is bound to hear bad language regularly at the dinner table, so that sort of thing might seem perfectly normal to her.

    Also, JK Rowling has over 6-and-a-half million twitter followers, and newspapers hang on her every word. What sort of person threatens to sue someone over a disagreement/misunderstanding where 99.99% of the planet will automatically believe the person they’ve actually heard of. It makes the woman look very bitter indeed. Almost as if she knows deep down that her million quid to BT played a huge part in the destruction of Scottish Labour and she’s reduced to lashing out at the first Nat who takes her on so she can feel a bit better about herself.

    Plus, JK donated £4,000 to Tom Watson’s deputy leadership campaign. He falsely accused Leon Brittan of being a rapist. I wonder how she feels about that.

  7. The major issue here is the fact that Rowling, for all her 6 million followers, only follows around 280 accounts which is hardly a large number. As others have already pointed out, the Spanner account is one of those she has interacted with most. This alone reflects badly on her, and is made even worse by her refusal to unfollow the account. Of course, the attempt by this $ billionaire to intimidate an elected MP into silence shows us the character behind the faux outrage, ably assisted of course by the usual cast of “Yoonerati” useful idiots assuring us Spanner is a great laugh (Yes, we ARE looking at you Muriel Gray).

    If it weren’t so depressing and sinister it would almost be funny, but like you Derek I no longer see the joke. The odd swear word is one thing, Spanners output is something else entirely. Of course we shouldn’t be shocked that it now apparent that Spanner’s identity is known to a number of Scots hacks, who would rather go to the pyre than reveal his identity. Can you imagine a cybernat troll being afforded the same treatment? No, of course we can’t because we all know the supine Scots MSM (pace the Herald and its cowardly reaction to the Spiers/Haggerty Sevco affair) would have outed any pro-independence supporter who behaved even a fraction as badly and ensured he was publicly crucified.

  8. “for which the still anonymous Spanner has of course duly apologised.”


    Do you think that, apart from Natalie McGarry, the fragrant Rowling has been in touch?

    “Euan, oops sorry, Brian, get apologising sharpish. Or you’ll be in the shit with me!”

  9. Thanks, Derek. I think that really does sum up the feelings of a lot of people.

  10. Well expressed Derek. I had another JK reminder moment in my life this weekend that was strangely coincidental to the online Rowling/McGarry stuff. It made me want to write something to her. Maybe there is more chance that she’ll read it here than if I put it on twitter. I added a little more to it after reading your blog……..

    JK Rowling,

    I thought your books were good. Maybe nearly twenty years ago I took my daughter to a children’s book event at the Edinburgh Book Festival. The event was a talk for primary school age children recommending some ten books that they might like to read. One of the books recommended was “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” and this caught my attention as It seemed to be the lady presenter’s most favoured choice and she said the adults might enjoy it too. After the event we went to the onsite bookstore and I found your book but was unable to persuade my daughter that this was the one she should have. I was only going to get her one book so she chose another of the recommended titles that I have long forgotten the name of. I sneakily bought the Harry Potter for myself and thought my daughter might read it a later stage. I read it first and then had to do some very hard selling and persuasion to get my offspring to follow suit. I was insistent because having read it myself I knew she would really love it.

    When she had finished number one she discovered number two was already out and proceeded to read it in a day. From number three onwards she would have been disapointed not to get started on first day of publication. A few years later your seven books were the most important in my daughter’s constantly growing library with each one being read and reread. I even bought her the fourth one the day it came out when we were on holiday in Denmark. Your success in the field of children’s books is unsurpassed and deservedly so.

    On Saturday I was clearing out my 27 year old daughter’s books to move them to her own flat where she has been living for some time. I boxed up all the seven Harry Potters that I found and all were very obviously well read. Two of them kindly autographed by yourself. Not prime first editions but real books read by a real fan. Not valuable as the mothballed editions of professional collectors but books clearly showing how much pleasure they had given to a child somewhat in awe of you and totally immersed in the great stories that you had written.

    It almost brings a tear to my eye when I note the recent events on Twitter. Perhaps you have some have some explanations and information that is missing from the mix. Maybe you could take the time to get this published in the press somewhere. I’m quite prepared to take the time to read it and consider it. The Brain Spanner Twitter account has said some things through the medium that are definitely not recoverable by any apology that may since have been made. Were you aware of these tweets or were you, as Derek suggests, oblivious to them or unaware of them?

    I think your older adult fan base that covers all the generations and includes a wide and varying set of opinions on the virtues or otherwise Scottish Independence deserves to hear your clarification on this matter. Brian Spanner on Twitter is misogynist and abusive and I think it would be very hard to conclude otherwise but if we are missing something please let us know. It is also disturbing that most of the press coverage of this issue fails to mention the Brian Spanner tweets. Have you any idea why what seems to be the main point of the issue is missing from most of the reporting? Are there any connections at all between your Twitter account and this, Brian Spanner, Twitter account that Natalie McGarry mentioned in her Twitter conversations. Were you totally unaware of these abusive tweets? Why not just make a public statement to clarify?

  11. Spot on as ever Derek. JK hasn’t a clue about the damage she has done to her own reputation. I am sure she will be chalking this up to a win… but she’s wrong.

  12. JK is an attention seeker. Loves setting people up and then playing the victim card. We don’t need to overanalyse this.

  13. “You know the other weird thing? As I’ve been writing, I was very conscious of the threat of legal action. On a blog. In a free country. I’ve never experienced that before since I started blogging. And it feels uncomfortable.”

    I know the feeling well, having been threatened with legal action by a professional association some fifteen years ago – it still makes my skin crawl when I inadvertently happen to come across the correspondence that ensued (tucked away, safely, just in case I ever need it).

    As would have been the case with any wealthy individual they could have taken me to the cleaners had they pursued a case even had they lost (as I’m sure would have been the case). The material they complained about, thanks to my being a rather bloody minded individual, remained on the internet. The threats were never pursued, but for years I worried over the matter and felt compelled to stop writing a book related to the web content that might have produced a nice supplement to my pension.

    I still worry about the implications of such threats when I contemplate returning to complete the book I started. That is the power of legal threats from those with the power to use the legal system to their advantage. As Andy Wightman’s book title reveals only too clearly in the context of land holdings ‘The Poor Have No Lawyers’.

    Not much has seemingly changed in recent years but I trust in an independent Scotland such threats will in themselves be perceived as worthy of legal sanctions.

  14. I completely understand, Derek. My son has read all of the books and seen all the movies but he heard his father and I discussing the Rowling/Spanner situation and he has decided enough is enough. I believe 100% that she knows the person behind the account and she knows what he/she tweeted. For all of her claim to abhor bullying it is clear that she is happy to be a part of such behaviour. It reminds me of the children my son suffered at the hands of who would stand at the back saying nothing while the bigger/louder kids treated him dreadfully. They laughed along, as I’m sure Ms. Rowling did but satisfied themselves that they didn’t utter the words or do the kicking so they were absolved. Nope, not in my eyes and not in the eyes of a decent person. She likely feels no shame….but she truly should.

  15. Britnat tools.

    “It’s awf’lly bad luck on Ms Rowling, her cronies have swallowed their bits. She fished down their throats with a Spanner, and showed them to be britnat shits.” [Without permission]

  16. Derek, your supposition that JK wouldnt have seen any of the Spanner tweets would seem to be disproved by this twitter analysis

    Seems he’s no. 1 on her list.

  17. You have it a bit backwards in one comment, Derek. The number of followers isn’t what would make her account busy, but the number of people she follows.

    She only follows about 300 people so the chances of her seeing a particular tweet from someone she follows are high and when they’ve tweeted the same time of content numbeous times as he has, it definitely strains credibility that she doesn’t know the type of content he tweets. Why she would follow someone like that is another question. I have no idea, but almost certainly, she knew.

  18. It never ceases to amaze me just how much detail a bunch of information hungry cybernats can bring into focus within hours of an event taking place online; it honestly puts the journalism trade to shame. To be sure, there was much adding of twos to make fives, but nevertheless the raw information was there for anyone who cared to peruse it.

    And that’s the thing. The raw information is perplexing. Why would one of the world’s most successful authors, synonymous with charitable acts for abused women and girls, have such a cosy relationship with such a vile individual, and of course a well casted cabal of unionist hacks and apparatchiks? Short of her £1 million venture capital investment in BT, I can’t think why she would ever risk the damage to her credibility, even given her deification by the the MSM Surely she couldn’t be so arrogant, so stupid, so naive to think there’d be no comeback?

    Joe Public wont go a trawling like a cybernat, so the media gets away with beginning the story at an SNPbad MP having a go at a women who thanked a man for a donation to her charity. Nothing to see here. But we all know, and so does the MSM, that it’s so much more than that. She interacted with the Spanner account more than any other (Twitter algorithm, not mine), even suggesting that she ran it at some stage, and the donation came from an indiegogo startup mocking the zoomerific Scottish Resistance outfit selling T-shirts using their name and logos. How they laughed, McColm, Massie, Torrance, Hothersall and Rowling, as some of them posted their pics of their new T-shirts on Twitter. What a wizard wheeze. And when someone logs in with the wrong ID, oh the hilarity.

    The simple fact that the issue of Spanner, and more pointedly his identity, has been given such a wide and such an obvious berth by the MSM, should be ringing alarm bells everywhere. They know who he is. At least 2 that I know of have already inadvertently said so.

    I actually don’t care who he/she/they are. This is just another Fifi la Bon Bon. I care about the double standards, the hypocrisy and the obvious involvement of a so-called impartial press and the implications that has for a free society. Let me be blunt; one of the main characters in this fairy tale is a major political lobbyist and donor in the UK, and many of the others are journalists, and their victims mainly female politicians of an independence bent fairly and squarely elected to the UK parliament. Whatever the objective of the anonymous account, it certainly wasn’t crocheting the fine tapestry of British society back together again after the referendum.

  19. All they are doing is mainstreaming this “yoon” element & making the gulf between labour and its lost yes voters a lot more wider. Imagine being enough of an idiot to believe that pulling this crap will see labour rewarded with votes. Voting for labour now would be to say that I agree with the likes of spanner and the UK media. It would mean I was on their team. I’ll never be on their team – they can pick another kid.

    Another vindication of my Yes vote – like I actually needed one – but thanks all the same UK

  20. Derek, I think it is pretty obvious that there is a clique around JK Rowling who do not care about the abuse that is meted out towards the SNP and independence supporters. Seemingly Muriel Gray thinks that Brian Spanner is very funny. That is what we are dealing with here. They clearly do not care about this cretin’s abuse, in fact they seem to find it amusing. It suggests that they see abuse towards independence supporting figures and supporters as fair game and legitimate. If this was not the case then Rowling would surely have apologised for following Brian Spanner by now, and the likes of Muriel Gray would have also apologised for saying Spanner is very funny.

  21. I think you are being over generous Derek in suggesting that this author might have been unaware of those disgusting tweets which I would never have seen had she not threatened an MP.

    If she had not seen those revolting tweets, she should surely have questioned why McGarry made her comment before threatening legal action. She was, however, quick enough to threaten, so, is it likely that she was unaware? I also read somewhere that offensive tweets had been retweeted from the account. If that is the case, that would signify that the sentiments were condoned.

    I am certain that many people saw this vileness for the first time because of Rowling’s behaviour and it will do damage to any reputation she thinks she deserves. Such is the misogynistic hatred displayed in those awful tweets, I would be surprised if the police weren’t thinking about feeling a few collars for hate crime.

    I doubt there is a court in the land which wouldn’t throw out such a case especially given the demand for donation; there is a word for that sort of threat.

    There are no words for the third rate commentators who are involved in such a sordid little cabal. Their names are out there and I am sure they won’t shake this off easily. Apologising after being caught out and removing the tweets won’t help.

    To quote an old saying, “If ye flee wi’ the craws, ye get shot wi’ the craws”.

    She may well have opened a can of worms.

  22. I think the Rowling-McGarry aspect of the spat is the least important. I don’t think Rowling comes out of it looking very good but that’s her problem. For me the bigger and more disturbing aspect is that Spanner appears to be well connected to a certain group of pro-Unionist journalists, his identity is known to many of them, and there’s circumstantial evidence in alternative media that he is one of them. So maybe it is no wonder that the Spanner aspect of the story:

    ….didn’t excite the interest of our mainstream journalists some of whom were happy to exclude all mention of the trigger for the whole affair.

    Is this what the political discourse in the mainstream media has come down to in Scotland: journalists writing thinly-veiled hooray-for-our-side propaganda at work and then hiding behind pseudonymous accounts at night so they can let loose by calling people with politics they dislike f***ing c***s? It’s all a joke mind you– grow a sense of humour if you don’t get it. And meanwhile other Scottish journalists reporting on hate, rather than propagating it, get hung out to dry. God save us.

  23. Aw shut up and think.

  24. It’s more than that Muttley. The ‘joke’, has evidently gone too far. Further than any one person is willing to go down for without taking out the rest. They have JK with her army of lawyers, front line troops, but they dont and cant prevent people from merely reporting facts. Facts which implicate JK in a jolly wheeze that is rather tasteless given her chosen charitable trajectory. JK’s hair trigger instinct to sue at the first instance of criticism, has resulted in the Streisand Effect coming into play.It’s another spectacular backfiring of a unionist scheme.

  25. “For, even if she somehow didn’t see his nauseating tweets originally,”

    C’mooon Derek. I know you are a bit on the naive side, but…!?

  26. Derek doesn’t want to donate to charity….or else! and nor should he. That’s OUR collective responsibility.

    and that is where we are in this sorry tale.

  27. Derek, if you think she wasn’t entirely conscious of the tweets coming from that account, I don’t know what you’re smoking but I’m sure it’s not legal. LIke Muriel Gray, she thinks vile abuse directed at independence supporters is hilariously funny and exquisitely witty.

  28. Someone spoke of Joanne Rowling as brooding in her castle behind her Leylandii hedge like a malevolent dragon crouched on an enormous pile of little children’s pocket money.

  29. Derek thinks what he thinks, and this is an open ‘though his’ forum, which he does not moderate so all opinions are not necessarily his.Derek’s a good guy, though I do not share his generous summation of events, like you. Perhaps we should organize a mass simultaneous statement? On a well known social media platform? Let’s call it solidarity? After all, no one, not even a global star, can sue a movement?

  30. Just thinking of all those fans scampering to their keyboards when they heard their favourite author was embroiled in a fight, ready to defend her against all foes. Imagine them finding out for themselves exactly what the spat was about, reading Spanner’s posts and discovering that the Spanner account is her top connection on Twitter.

    That Spanner account did her no favours at all.

  31. Robertson Buchan

    I of course don’t know J K Rowling but she seems to me to be a very obnoxious individual with more money than is good for her

  32. That ain’t gonna happen. But imagine if it did? There, my boy, is where we are. I always imagined the information revolution to be so much more than it was. How I dreamed. Little did we know there’d be EXACTLY the same proportion of folks bolted to the old news providers as we moved forwards.I hope it changes.

  33. Another thing that hasn’t been pointed out by anyone in the MSM, is that children who are following JK Rowling on Twitter can not only read Rowling’s tweets, but also access the accounts of those she is chatting to.

    For example, a curious child can simply click on Brian Spanner’s name and immediately view each and every one of his tweets!

    Rowling is not only happy to be linked with a disgusting potty mouthed misogynist but has provided a gateway to curious children being able to access Spanner’s account.

    Some of her followers had a look to see what all the fuss was about. I noted one asking her to please unfollow him.

    For a children’s author, Rowling has acted incredibly irresponsibly.

    She is quite obviously so blindly bitter, or egotistical, that she will continue to do so.

  34. Derek

    Thanks for this, especially:

    You know the other weird thing? As I’ve been writing, I was very conscious of the threat of legal action. On a blog. In a free country. I’ve never experienced that before since I started blogging. And it feels uncomfortable.

    It is utterly uncomfortable to live in a world where money can out-bid free speech, whether it is Natalie McGarries or your own.

    It has come to this.

  35. Like you, Derek, I have never been interested in the over-hyped HP craze. I’ve never read JR’s books. We took our grandson to see the first film and he never asked to go to another. If I was reading fantasy tales for children it would be Ursula le Guin’s “Earthsea Trilogy”. It’s about a boy wizard who goes to wizard school, and was written in the 60s.

    The decadent atmosphere which surrounds this affair has all the hallmarks of a crumbling empire. I think Natalie was right. These are indeed troll-like creatures lurking in their caves, delighting in tormenting honest humans. Some brave souls are shining a bright light into this murky corner.

    • The Earthsea Trilogy is very special to me. I didn’t read them until I was in my early twenties. But they are just indescribably good to my mind. By contrast I read almost the first chapter of the first HP book, put it down and never picked up another one. There was something unpleasant about the tone of that first chapter, that repelled me. Because they’ve been on tv so much I’ve caught parts of the films from time to time. It just all seems very derivative, and I’m left with the feeling that I’ve seen/read some very familiar ideas before, even down to the naming of characters/spells etc. .

      And as I commented on someone’s fb status, for someone who’s achieved what would be most people’s wildest dreams, materially, professionally, personally and is the object of mass adoration, I never got a sense of joy from JKR. No feeling that all that had made her happy. Just my impression from what I’ve seen of her publically.

  36. Good analysis, and it isn’t necessary to overthink it all. I’m presuming J K Rowling’s publicists are plugging some new product due out in the near future, and “all publicity is good publicity” seems to be how they have operated in the past. Expect trowling whenever a book/film/show/box set/board game is due for release.

  37. I am glad you’ve become disapproving of her, it’s what any decent person would feel but it takes an honest and courageous one to say so. It is more than many others have been willing to do – even the usually mouthy ones who normally say things and damn the consequences. I noticed Irivine Welsh came out strongly against Spanner, and briefly, McColm, yet I’ve failed to see him be so explicit about all those great and good who follow Spanner and egg him on by being followers. I also noticed Frankie Boyle conspiciously failing to become involved despite being tagged in by Muriel. I know he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on as far as abuse goes, and though I never much cared for some of his stand up, I had really begun to admire him because of his recent writing, which was powerful, passionate and well directed and some of the best writing I’ve read in recent times. If Frankie were serious about wishing to call power to account, as he seemed to be in those articles, then this is part of the same thing, since journalists and media people and dopey billionaires are involved – but perhaps because he’s pally with Muriel, or because he wants to keep writing he gives it a wide berth. Well, this reader has never been able to separate the writer from the work and if I couldn’t ever like Voltaire because of some of his real life actions then I can dismiss Boyle in the same way easily, and Rowling even more easily.

    JK must have known what Spanner was writing for a good while and just exactly as TK said above, she was very like the silent friend standing behind the bully when he hit out at various SNP MP’s. The very fact she is threatening legal action to me means she knows how damaging it would be to her to come out, all her little followers who at the moment support her because of her books would be appalled no doubt, especially many of her huge American following, since they’re often the type who are more appalled than folk in this country about some words. Muriel Grey was like – is like – the weasly little one who sniggers when the bully is doing his worst and tries to justify it when caught by laughing again and saying how funny it really was. Anyone who has seen any group of bullies knows how the various charcters fit within the group dynamic. They should be made into a cartoon strip of an updated and nasty version of the Bash Street Kids.

    Thank you Derek for speaking out. I’m very glad we have you.

  38. Having never read any J K Rowling books (I shall stick to Dick Francis, F Scott Fitzgerald etc.), never been involved with Twitter accounts, and never having read anything about Brian Spanner other than what is in the newspaper reports (and who believes much that is in newspapers other than the National nowadays?) I am probably not qualified to speak on what is an unedifying episode, but I think Natalie was right to desist from Twitter in future and i am quite prepared, Derek, to put a few bob in your defamation fighting fund…….

  39. Im slightly worried that the children’s author in question literally gets off on all this attention. Who knows how her brain is wired. It occurred to me while reading Derek’s blog (and might I say, your benefit/doubt balance is perhaps a tad too kind), that if “attention” is her thing, then perhaps the only way for Jo public to deal with it is to ignore her. Nothing worse than being ignored. Ignore and observe, that usually gives them enough rope…Problem is we are all too eager to get our thoughts in no matter what, lest we be left behind in a twitter storm. Personally I think it is a nasty piece of work. My favourite coffee shop in town has a small sign above the counter: “JK Rowling, never wrote here”.

  40. Betty, I was being a bit facetious!

  41. JR Hartley, I mean JR Tolkien, I mean Thon Troll wummin that has charities in about five countries except for the one she really really loves as her adopted homeland that she will never leave unless there’s Independence then she’s off

    So only really really loves Scotland her adopted homeland that nobody can make her leave, a wee bit but
    no that much

    Ahm wellin up

  42. I don’t think there’s any way Rowling could be unaware of the Spanner account’s content. It’s one of a handful of accounts she follows, compared with the millions who follow her, so I doubt very much that she will have followed the account and been unaware of its content. Indeed, there’s a suggestion that she may be the owner of the account.

    However, I’m really fed up of ‘Twitter storms’, regardless of who starts them or is at their centre. Twitter as a ‘social’ medium is absolutely pointless. I went on there a few years ago just to see what all the fuss was about, and my experience simply confirmed what I already suspected. It’s like a massive ‘comments’ section below an article, but with a 140 character limit. People don’t think in as simplistic a way as is limited by 140 characters. Our cognition and expression work in complex ways, not soundbites, and I tire of anything that encourages us to dumb-down our thought processes.

    Twitter is the online equivalent of a bunch of people standing in a great big room and shouting at the tops of their voices. Does it genuinely add anything at all to “the debate”? No. Does it guarantee column inches (over nothing at all) in an increasingly stultified and out-of-date MSM? Yes. Honestly, I wish people would just see it for what it is and turn their backs on it.

    • DaveM, I had never used social media at all until a few years ago when I joined twitter, it is a fantastic way to find out when the next blog post, media story has landed from your favourite sites. Like anything if you use it the wrong way it’s rubbish.

  43. I’m a late convert to Twitter despite being on-line since ’98. It’s a fantastic tool for keeping up with the latest in Scottish politics. As for being abusive, I learned a long time ago that ‘screaming’ at someone on any forum reflects badly on both parties so I keep it civil at all times.

    As for the subject of your tale, you’d think the old adage, ‘least said, soonest mended’ would be at the forefront of her thinking.

  44. The bit I don’t get is that Spanner’s most awful tweet – the one featuring FGM – was aimed at a very prominent pro-union politician. Polly Toynbee was a target too.

    My point is this: many (most?) of us are selectively blind to some abuse, if the source is someone we empathise with a bit. Plenty here will have turned a blind eye to some of Wings Over Scotland’s stuff, but if he had ever called Nicola Sturgeon a c***, we’d call him out on it. So why did all these pals of Spanner let the Curran and Toynbee abuse paas without comment?

    • Can I just say that the tweet from “spanner” which you cite was not the worst. I actually reported one from at least a year ago but it wasn’t deemed by twitter to be so bad!

      In defence of Stu, I’ve never seen him be abusive in a misogynist way a la spanner but swearing between “combatants” is fair enough..done it myself to make a stronger point. 😀

      What JK has done is being noticed by those who do not tweet and generally like HP books….

      THAT could be her legacy.

      • FWIW I don’t think the Rev is anything like as bad as Spanner – the point is that abusing people on the same side seems to have been OK.

  45. If things get too sticky in the ordure splattering spat that is @BrianSpanner , I’m sure that J K has a wee cod Latin spell that will make it OK in the end .

  46. It’s noticeable that The Herald is too wee, too poor and too feart to comment openly on some matters but is still well able to put out follow up comments on Natalie McGarry.
    Oh, to be a millionaire or as many would say oh, to have a balanced press in Scotland.

  47. As regards the 6.6 million twitter followers; 1.3 million are fake followers, usually a mixture of bought in and virus traps, which exist solely to entice fellow followers to click on and lead them into the heady world of gambling, hot sexy mamas and sundry nefarious pastimes aimed at purloining your online banking account details.

    Of the, let’s say 5.3million, faithful and genuine Rowling followers, many of them will be impressionable young children in awe of the woman who created the boy wizard. Many will hang on her every uttered word and will have leaped to her defence, whenever any vile Tartan jihadist has questioned the blessed JK’s imminent beatification. How many I ponder in an attempt to be like JK, will have followed the mere 200 + souls she deigns to follow, thinking it takes them closer to their idol. How many, witnessed JK’s friends views on Female genital mutilation?

    It is rather telling that as well as children’s author Rowling, Ruth Davidson MSP also follows Brian Spanner, although he with good grace does not follow her in return. Odd perhaps, given that when she was the victim of homophobic abuse, the Scottish twitter-verse rallied round her in support, Sturgeon upon being shrieked at to condemn the tweet culprit and online abuse, duly did. Naturally BBC Distorting Scotland parked a journalist and satellite truck outside the ne’er-do-well’s council cottage flat. Where its SNP poster was defiantly displayed in chuckles the homophobes living room window as a reminder to the viewing audience of ‘SNP Bad’. If memory recalls, a live broadcast at that, sadly with nothing to report other than the somewhat damp reporter’s ire! No doubt Jackie Bird and her colleagues are currently wasting all available resources in uncovering the identity of the miscreant Spanner and will in full time parade his shame and family in front of the camera with unflattering pictures purloined from social media and long lenses that only work in nearby bushes…

    The key to identifying Mr Spanner lies first and foremost with Ms Rowling. In her confrontation with Ms McGarry, she defended praising Spanner, because he had donated to her charity. The £548 he garnered from selling off the laughable Scottish Resistance Army t-shirt’s to his mostly Scottish media friends was then presumably delivered to Ms Rowling’s charity, Lumos of which she is founder and el Life Presidente. Once that transaction took place, the identity of Mr Spanner became known to the charity, the receiving bank and of course the Charity regulators who overlook this ‘registered in England’ charity… As founder and President, Ms Rowling need only pick up the phone and ask for the name of the account from which the funds were sent.

    Despite the joshing that an erroneous tweet unmasked Spanner as a former News of the World journalist; a brave heroic man who singlehandedly took it upon himself to unmask and ruin the vile separatist cybernats who dared to blog pseudonymously about their lack of support for the Union, this we are told is an in-joke, albeit one with no many laughs. Is it cruel of me to say the excuse sounds like the desperate please of innocence from a child caught with his/her hand in a biscuit jar?

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, the very first person Mr Spanner chose to follow on twitter was the above NOTW journalist. Spanner then proceeded to follow said journalists occasional employers and a host of friends who also follow the former NOTW journalist. I’m told by those in the know that when setting up a Twitter parody account, the first thing you do before bestowing your wit and most worthy utterings on the unsuspecting world, is follow your own account to ensure that the Twitter gremlins have put everything in order and your bon mots are ready to be aired in public…

    Where this case becomes interesting, is how Ms McGarry MP responds to the threat of a defamation case (an costly affair where one mostly remembers the allegation and rarely the rebuttal) especially as she has Parliamentary privilege and can wax in far greater detail than 140 squeezed together characters, as to why she wished Ms Rowling had rightly condemned Spanners vile and misogynistic language. She is as an elected member, allowed to make a personal statement on most any subject, in this case, a comment aimed at the same gender she shares with many of her constituents.

    Aware this is lengthy for a post on an esteemed journalist’s blog, let me close by saying that the first person Spanner apologised to for his eye watering FGM tweet was the former member of both the Scottish and Westminster parliaments, Margaret Curran. It is not known whether Ms Curran accepted his apology. She does not follow Spanner. She does however, follow the former NOTW journalist and of course, he in turn follows her back…

  48. Wings can’t wait to be sued by Rowling based on Campbell’s latest effort. He also reports that the National has decided not to publish Moodie’s latest cartoon on legal advice. The topic isn’t public but one has to imagine it relates to either the Rangers or the Rowling/Spanner events of the past week. Wings has apparently offered to publish so maybe we’ll get to see it soon.

  49. I think one of the most disturbing things about this is the way Rowling intentionally used the ‘.@‘ syntax on here tweets to McGarry so that her 6.5m followers would see, and could join, the conversation. She could just as easily have used the standard ‘@‘ and kept it between the two of them.

    McGarry was immediately subjected to a barrage of thousands of angry and offensive tweets from Rowling’s followers, something Rowling must surely have known was likely to happen. That’s bullying plain and simple.

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