Effigy of Salmond sparks controversy

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The Waterloo Bonfire Society’s plan to burn an effigy of Alex Salmon provoked a predictable outcry on Twitter (your report, 6 November).

I note that the Lewes society is one of several who have a long tradition of burning effigies of controversial public figures. Mr Salmond is just the latest in a long line of “victims”. Past effigies included the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Osama Bin Laden, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

I feel bemused that those who complain so vociferously against such events think it’s perfectly acceptable to hold an annual ritual burning of the hapless Guy Fawkes.

Generations of parents have happily encouraged their children to create an effigy of a real, identifiable man, place him on top of a bonfire and watch him symbolically burn to death. What fun.

We can all recall the cheers which greeted the sight of the carefully constructed effigy being engulfed by the flames. We make the whole thing palatable by referring to it as “the guy”, thereby dismissing his humanity by reducing him to an anonymous figure.

I suspect that this grotesque ritual satisfies some deeply ingrained instinct to destroy the perceived evil in our midst.

We each have our own opinion as to what or who represents a threat to society. Alex Salmond’s response to his near miss suggests that he felt rather flattered at being chosen as this year’s “victim”.

He takes pride in being perceived as being as big a threat to the Westminster establishment as Mr Fawkes.

Carolyn Taylor

Wellbank

Broughty Ferry, Dundee

I have been embarrassed by the “high horse” reactions to the effigy burning of Alex 
Salmond in Lewes.

After all, they have burned effigies of Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, John Major and Tony Blair in the past. It is a tradition of choosing a high profile person and Salmond should be flattered at being recognised.

The reactions on social media and the subsequent police complaint have exposed Scotland as a pompous nation unable to laugh at ourselves and all too ready to stand on our dignity.

Having said that, I am also disappointed at the decision not to burn the effigy but instead to bow to social media hysteria.

Paul Lewis

Guardwell Crescent

Edinburgh

I was very disappointed to read of the Waterloo Bonfire Society’s decision not to burn the wonderful effigy of Alex Salmond, which their volunteers must have put hundreds of hours into making.

Even as a supporter of independence, my sympathies are with them.

As a current political figure, and for some down south a bugbear who almost broke apart their country while they had no say in the matter, he is quite rightly a candidate for a Guy Fawkes’ night effigy.

Such burnings are a necessary vent for people’s frustrations and fears and a positive way to bring an entire community together, even as opinions divide about the figures who burn.

If it were a specific political rally in isolation for the purposes of decrying the Scots as a whole, there would be cause for concern, but this was essentially a very high production value political cartoon.

The folks who heaped abuse and pressure on the organisers at every level are scarily close to the kind of territory occupied by those who raise threats over depictions of religious figures.

It’s not good company to be in, and I hope those who ­objected will consider the manner in which they did so, and whether they embody the best of what we should be striving towards in our hoped-for country.

Nick Toth

West Register Street

Edinburgh

I agree with Graham Marshall (Letters, 6 November). Burning an effigy of a person – particularly of one who is very much alive – is horrible.

There are more reasonable ways of expressing an opposing opinion.

J Armstrong

Nithsdale Road

Glasgow