After JK Rowling online attack, Scotland church head says end independence debate vitriol
The Church of Scotland moderator has appealed for an end to vitriol in the referendum campaign on independence from Britain following an outpouring of abuse by independence supporters against Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
"It doesn't take a wizard to work out that [First Minster] Alex Salmond's case for breaking up the UK simply isn't a risk worth taking," wrote Rowling on her blog page in support of the "Better Together" campaign.
"The best way to make sure that we can make our country fairer is by working together across the whole of the UK, not putting a barrier between us."
Henry McLeish former Scotland First Minister and the Rev. John Chalmers, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, spoke out after a deluge of online abuse followed Rowling's intervention in the independence debate, The Herald, a Scottish newspaper reported Thursday.
Chalmers said, "Personal insults have no part in the discussion about Scotland's future. Some of what I am hearing from both sides in the campaign represents my worst fear as decision day draws closer.
"I urge both sides of this debate to turn the volume down, stick to facts and principles and remember that on September 19 there will be no 'us and them', only us."
Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, entered the debate over Scottish independence when she donated 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to the 'No' campaign that supports keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom.
This was followed by "obscene online abuse" after the English-born author who has lived in Scotland for 21 years became the biggest pro-UK donor, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.
Fervent Scottish nationalists posted notices on social media, one labelling her a "specky b******", another a "Union cow bag" and many others used profanities.
"I know that there is a fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence and I suspect, notwithstanding the fact that I've lived in Scotland for 21 years and plan to remain here for the rest of my life, that they might judge me 'insufficiently Scottish' to have a valid view.
" However, when people try to make this debate about the purity of your lineage, things start getting a little Death Eaterish for my taste," Rowling said referring to characters in the Harry Potter books.
McLeish said, "There is no justification for this behaviour and it does the country a disservice," he said. "For the next three months give it a rest. Get out on the doorsteps and off your computers.
"I love politics and love my country. We have just celebrated the anniversary of D-Day and retaining our democracy and freedom. Seventy years on we don't need cyberspace filled with personal bile and poison."
Rowling wrote on her blog, "The more I have read from a variety of independent and unbiased sources, the more I have come to the conclusion that while independence might give us opportunities – any change brings opportunities – it also carries serious risks.
"The Institute for Fiscal Studies concludes that [First Minister] Alex Salmond has underestimated the long-term impact of our ageing population and the fact that oil and gas reserves are being depleted."
She noted " My fears about the economy extend into an area in which I have a very personal interest: Scottish medical research.
"Having put a large amount of money into multiple sclerosis research here, I was worried to see an open letter from all five of Scotland's medical schools expressing 'grave concerns' that independence could jeopardise what is currently Scotland's world-class performance in this area."
Rowling previously donated 10 million pounds ($17 million) to set up a clinic at Edinburgh University to research treatments for multiple sclerosis, the degenerative disease that killed her mother.