Marion Millar is Scottish, a feminist and a working mum. On 28th April 2021 she received a phone call out of the blue, from a police officer who told her she would need to attend her local police station to be interviewed under the Malicious Communications Act (MCA). When Marion told her she had small children to care for (she has autistic twins) she was informed that social services would look after them while she was interviewed. Millar was understandably both horrified and intimidated by this news. She was contacted again and told to attend the station on 27th May – which was also her birthday- but this appointment was cancelled, ostensibly due to the custody suite not being available. Her interview was eventually rescheduled for 3rd of June, leaving her to spend five weeks under huge amounts of stress.
“I shall be attending with my lawyers,” Millar told Twitter on May 28th.
What was her crime?
Recently, feminists in Scotland have been tweeting under the WomenWontWheesht hashtag. ‘Wheesht‘ is Scots for ‘hush’, ‘be quiet’ or even ‘shut up’.
The hashtag took off a while ago, but yesterday, the day of Marion’s court appearance, it was trending on Twitter with nearly 16k tweets.
What do we know about Marion’s tweets?
Well, we now know that Marion has been charged on two counts of malicious communications under the MCA. The tweets could be seen as ‘aggravated hate crime’ and, under the MCA, theoretically she could face up to 2 years in prison.
It takes a lot to surprise me, but when I first saw one of them, the tweet that has been making an appearance in the press and on social media, I was so incredulous that I thought there must have been some mistake.
The offending tweet is on the left.
In the words of The Times newspaper, “The messages investigated by officers are understood to include a retweeted photograph of a bow of ribbons in the green, white and purple colours of the Suffragettes, tied around a tree (sic) outside the Glasgow studio where a BBC soap opera is shot. It is believed a complaint was made to the police suggesting the ribbons represented a noose.”
Evidently, somebody thought that the suffragette ribbon (which was actually tied to a wire fence not a tree), fluttering lightly in the evening wind, was a noose, and that Marion’s tweeting of it was some sort of veiled threat.
We have yet to receive full details of exactly which other of her 11.5k tweets Millar is being charged for. A photo of a kitten in a basket that was mistaken for a Basket-Hilt Broadsword, perhaps? It seems anything is possible.
However, it has been suggested to me that the three tweets below may also be among those involved. This has not been confirmed by Millar. The tweets remain in the public domain on her timeline, as Twitter has not seen fit to question their presence.
Whilst we don’t have details of all the tweets involved, it is probably safe to presume Marion wasn’t posting a picture of a ‘gun’ on Twitter and threatening to shoot people who disagree with her beliefs.
This was one Twitter users’ recent response to the #WomenWontWheesht campaign.
Andrea Cachia has now been suspended from Brunel University while the Metropolitan Police investigate his- sorry, zie’s- actions. Yup, zie’s an enby. It will be interesting to see if he ends up in court.
Cachia’s tweet is not the only astonishing thing to come out of this. On 3rd June, a group of women waited outside the police station for Millar, offering solidarity and support.
Some of them posed for photographs and this photo (below) had been shared on Twitter, later reposted by transactivist Joss Prior.
“This is the mass protest for Marion Millar the crank,” wrote Prior. “This is what their ‘grass-roots’ movement looks like without the GC blokes, without the right-wing blokes, without the sock accounts and the astroturfing. A handful of bored, middle aged, conservative dullards.”
Joss’s attack on women is a triple whammy, the epitome of bigotry – attacking women for their age, their politcs (entirely speculative) and their perceived intellectual capacity.
I imagine Joss’s idea of a feminist protest would have been a parade of 20-year-old bikini girls sporting full make-up and perfectly coiffed hair, chanting ‘transwomen are women!’
Prior- no spring chicken himself- is also disparaging about the number of women in the photo. I’m told that others were present who were not photographed, but bloody hell – just yesterday someone was threatening to shoot gender critical women with a ‘gun’! It’s pretty damn brave that these women dare show their faces at all! And with just six day’s notice, on a week day, when most women are either at work or have kids to ferry to and from school. In the middle of a pandemic. And where, exactly? Central Edingburgh? No: Coatbridge. A town in the lowlands of Scotland, about nine miles outside Glasgow. I’ll just hop on my bike…
For Women Scotland tell me, “It was just some friends and supporters outside the police station, so not really a protest as such.”
“Is this Schrodinger’s GC feminists?” mused @CountessOfNice. “I thought we were a dangerous rightwing funded “international cabal of powerful lesbians” who must be silenced at all costs. They can’t have it both ways”
“I mean if your ‘enemy’ is a small group of ordinary women then maybe you’ve made some poor choices.” observed @crit_gen
“So women standing up to defend other women are being called cranks by men pretending to be women who have hijacked a mythical creature as their logo? Aye! Ok!” tweeted @ScotsKat
My favourite response was an… ahem… old photo of Prior in formal dress with the caption ‘bored, middle-aged dullard’?
If that seems harsh, bear in mind that Prior was not above doctoring a picture created by The Famous Artist Birdy Rose to make it look as if she had drawn Millar giving a Nazi salute.
Of course, it’s all a joke, ho ho ho. All done in the best possible taste, eh Joss?
When we take a closer look at the top left-hand side of the screenshot of Prior’s ‘mass protest’ post (above), we can see that it was retweeted by none other than Susie Green, the CEO of Mermaids.
Susie et al are excelling themselves recently: yesterday Mermaids tweeted an article with a cover photo that appeared to compare radical feminists to Hitler in make up.
So that’s nice.
The article talks about how Stonewall has ‘drawn the wrath of the LGB Alliance’ as if Stonewall is some sort of innocent little clownfish and the @ALLIANCELGB is a giant, omnipotent, all-devouring Kraken. You may be aware that Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence and other organisations with a vested interest in the transitioning of children are currently challenging the Charity Commission’s granting of charitable status to the LGB Alliance. Yes, organisations that advocate solely for the trans-identified want to shut down an organisation that advocates solely for same-sex attracted people. #lovewins eh?
In fact, Twitter is full of comments from people with pink, white and blue flags in their bios calling feminists ‘right wing’ and ‘Nazis’. I was sent a screenshot earlier today where Prior (who has blocked me) was calling me a ‘far right crank’. Honestly, the idea of me being far right is so bloody ludicrous you might as well call me a clownfish.
But I digress. Which are we? A few boring, incompetent middle-aged farts or an army of wild and dangerous battle-ready lunatics?
As @trottydog observed on Twitter:
“Make your minds up Joss and Suzie, are we a cluster of polite and sensible mature women or are we a rampaging mob endangering trans people everywhere? Because without the mob narrative, your fearmongering nonsense doesn’t really stand up does it?”
In the meantime, Marion Millar is waiting to be made an example of.
For Women Scotland told me, “The charge against Marion Millar seems highly politically motivated and appears to rely, at best, on interpretation and the belief that women’s rights are inherently hateful. During the Hate Crime Debate, we warned that some SNP officials and supporters were looking to use Hate Crime legislation against political opponents. Before the new law has come has come into force, we have been proven right. Part of the motivation of these complaints appears to be to outlaw legitimate protest: we have, for too long, heard that ribbons and stickers were hateful. It should terrify everyone that the police are now making arbitrary judgements on lawfully held and expressed opinion.“
We won’t know what happens next until July 20th, when Millar must report to the courts. By then she will have spent three months not knowing what she is supposed to have done wrong and with the potential threat of prison hanging over her.
Were ‘those’ tweets evil, threatening and fueled by hatred? Well, we won’t know for sure until we are told what they were.
It seems highly unlikely, as Twitter has made no attempt to shut her account down. A look through her timeline- unsurprisingly- would suggest not: the accusation of homophobia seems especially strange as Marion is consistently an advocate for lesbian rights and the right to be same-sex attracted.
I’m not sure what it means for the future of free speech when a woman can’t express her support for women’s rights without being threatened with prison.
One thing I am sure of though – women won’t wheesht.