An abusive past

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Lord Foulkes of Cumnock asks Justice Minister Lord Faulks in the House of Lords to condemn vile abuse as the enemy of democracy (your report, 17 June).

Apart from the noble lords having the brass neck to pronounce on such a matter in a House with no democratic legitimacy through the ballot box, they should note that such abuse has a long history in Scots culture.
The major poet of the Court of King James IV, during the Scottish Renaissance, was William Dunbar, reputed to be the first user in print of the procreative word.

He was famed for “flying” or formal poetic abuse of those of his peers who had rubbed him up the wrong way. Here he says of Walter Kennedy of Carrick:

“Fantastic fule, trest weill thow salbe fleyit.

Ignorant elf, aip, owll irregular,

Skalit skaitbird and commoun skamelar

Wanfukkit funling, that Natour maid ane yrle.”

“Irregular” means “disobedient to Church Law”; “skameter” is “parasite”.

Iain WD Forde

Main Street

Scotlandwell, Kinross-shire