A response to online bullying, based on false accusations of harassment, made against me by LEN PENNIE and JANEY GODLEY
It’s not easy to publicly admit that you’ve been bullied, but a stand has to be made.
On August 24, Len Pennie, a 21-year-old woman who posts poetry and ‘Scots Word of The Day’ videos on social media, under the name Miss PunniePennie (@lenniesaurus), made a false allegation that I harassed her, while claiming I am ‘creepy’ and ‘hateful’. Previously Pennie claimed I was a ‘bigot’ and a ‘bully’.
Pennie did this, I believe, to gain sympathy from her followers at my expense. This claim was taken up, without investigation, by Janey Godley, the comedian, who posted about the false allegation four times in one day, to get her followers to harass me.
Online harassment is a serious issue. As the father of a 17-year-old girl, the idea of a middle-aged man harassing a young woman online horrifies me, as it should most decent people. However, that is simply not the case here. I did not harass Len Pennie in any way. I will show that these claims are false.
I am a respectable, happily married, family man and neither Len Pennie nor Janey Godley has the right to make these disgusting accusations and bully me. They should both apologise.
For those who don’t know who I am, I am the publisher of The Majority, which (I hope) gives a voice to the majority of Scots who are against Scottish Nationalism. Before I returned to Scotland in 2016, I had long experience in publishing in Japan, in the US and in Scotland. I founded and published 707 weekly issues of Metropolis, Japan’s No. 1 English magazine. I also founded japantoday.com, the largest news and discussion site in Japan. After 26 years overseas, I came home to Scotland, where I have been working, primarily as an Internet marketing consultant, as well as running The Majority.
I have long experience in online discussions. In fact, when I built Japan Today, I was the first person to put reader discussions under the news stories, an innovation that spread worldwide. As part of that project, and other online forums I have created since, I have written policies to regulate online behaviour and also worked for many years as an online moderator, policing users’ language and behaviour.
I have been posting online since before the internet even started, on online bulletin boards. I edited hundreds of issues of a weekly magazine. So I try to be careful with my words. I have never harassed anyone online or offline: I’ll challenge them and I’ll mock them, but I don’t overstep and harass them.
Harassment implies multiple contacts, but I have had only one direct communication with Len Pennie, in late December 2020, when she invited Twitter users to comment on her work. At that time I hadn’t blocked her, so her posts would occasionally appear when someone else retweeted them on my timeline.
This is our conversation in its entirety, which started with Pennie challenging her critics to drop their anonymity.
If ye want tae gie me hate, why no drop the anonymity and face me lit the big brave men ye hink ye are? Come oan, show us the bawheid ahint the keyboard. Are ye feart ae a wee lassie? Or that abdy that kens ye in real life wid be mortified tae see their da/brother/son is a bully?
Note how she presents herself as a ‘wee lassie’. As I don’t like people playing the victim and stereotyping their critics, I replied:
MD: I’m not anonymous. It’s bad enough you make insufferably smug videos in ridiculous dialect trying to make a ‘thing’ out of Scots words that no-one uses. But then trying to claim you’re a victim when people don’t like them? Away an’ bile yer heid.
LP: “I’m not anonymous”
1. What’s your name?
2. What do you look like?
3. What exactly about my content makes your willy shrivel up?
I didn’t comment on the shocking misandry of this last sentence at the time.
MD: I’ve said my piece. You really need to have a thicker skin if you’re going to do this. Playing the victim while insulting and stereotyping those who don’t like your work is not a good look.
LP: So you ARE an anonymous account then. Thanks for playing. If I had thin skin, bullies like you would have run me off this website MONTHS AGO. Now please, don’t let the door hit your bigoted arse on the way out. Bye bye baby. X
MD: Jeez-o. So now I’m a bully and a bigot for telling you that your videos are insufferably smug nonsense? Get a grip.
From start to finish this exchange took less than 30 minutes. For the record, my account isn’t anonymous. At that time my bio linked to The Majority’s About page and I had one of my video commentaries pinned to the top of The Majority’s public feed.
Criticism of someone’s work, at their invitation no less, is not harassment. I stated my opinion, and for that I was branded a ‘bigot’ and a ‘bully’ and told I had a ‘shrivelled willy’.
I quickly realised that Pennie was a ‘professional victim’, in that she was inviting criticism of her work as a way to gain sympathy from her followers. It worked. She gained support from Godley and others, who were willing to overlook her aggressive sense of victimhood.
In reply to someone who said I was complaining about Pennie’s politics:
I don’t care what her politics are. I simply dislike her promotion of Scots words no-one uses, her smug delivery and gigantic sense of victimhood. Apparently, for that crime, she’s labelled me as a bigot, a bully, she’s insulted me and tried to pile on me with her followers.
Shortly thereafter, I blocked Pennie from viewing my tweets. Replying to another poster, I said:
If she can’t take criticism without playing the victim and resorting to abuse and insults, she’s not only on the wrong platform, she’s in the wrong industry. In any case, I’ve blocked her insufferable nonsense now.
From December to the end of August I did not look at her tweets. I’m simply not interested.
THE THINNEST-SKINNED WOMAN IN SCOTLAND
The other person who indulges in the same kind of behaviour is Janey Godley (@JaneyGodley). Many on Scottish Twitter have suffered pile ons from her followers and will recognise the same gigantic sense of victimhood.
As just one example, I posted an image of a mock autobiography as part of the #NicolasBookClub series. She immediately claimed I was mocking her mother’s murder (not sure how that’s a connection) and said she was going to sue me for copyright infringement (she didn’t). For good measure, and to make money, she promoted her real autobiography in a link in the comments.
Irrespective of the merits of her comedy, which is like the traffic cone on that statue’s head: mildly amusing the first time you see it, but beyond that you’re left thinking, ‘Is this really the mediocrity our culture celebrates?’, Godley is a living parody of a comedian who can’t take a joke. She’s quite possibly the thinnest-skinned woman in Scotland.
Who on earth thought a divisive figure, who paraded a sign calling the President of the United States a ‘c*nt’, would be perfect to head up ads for Scottish tourism and COVID? The answer is that Godley serves an important role for Nicola Sturgeon, as a reverse court jester —presenting a boring, bookish and overbearing lawyer as a folksy, jokey ‘woman of the people’. Godley’s comedy isn’t selling laughs, she’s selling power. And for that, she’s handsomely paid with your money.
But with these victim types, engaging simply isn’t worth the bother. So I leave her alone.
In the early hours of August 24, just under eight months after the inital converation with Pennie, I responded to a comment by @FacundoSavala (FS) and another user, DR::
FS: That @Lenniesaurus strikes me as a lassie who gets ragey when her parents misgender her fave Twitch heroes, or when they do the recycling wrongly.
MD: Stay away. She’s a professional victim.
DR: I’m blocked
MD: Good. Not only will you avoid her self-satisfied and pretentious ‘poyums’ and tweets based on Scots words that no-one has ever heard, you’ll avoid her claiming to be victimised by men when they criticise her ‘art’. Best avoided.
DR: Is this the same one who did that cringe poem during the football that the bbc thought was a great idea to promote?
MD: No, that’s someone else. Although I don’t doubt that the BBC will soon be getting this one on there, for some ‘genuine Scoats content and poyums’. This is an example of the utter drivel she spouts:
Scots word of the day: WABSTEID
Example: Hae a wee snatch at thon wabsteid.
Website was coined in the 1990’s afore yous gie me snash.
I have never, ever heard anyone in Scotland call a website a ‘wabsteid’. It’s utter nonsense. It is, to use a good Scottish word, shite.
(Funnily enough, just a few days after my comment, BBC Scotland ran a segment on Pennie, talking to her about Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley, which she hadn’t even read.)
Anyway, a Twitter search shows that my entire history of my comments to Len Pennie consists of three Tweets interacting with her, five discussing her, and a few more telling people to avoid her.
During the same day, I was surprised to receive a tweet from a user called @Friseal
This You Mark Devlin?
Harassing young females and abusing them online?
Bit of a tough guy behind your keyboard, yeah?
The lassie has asked you to stop!!!
Get a fucking grip of yourself!!
The post had a screenshot of a post by Pennie, written that day:
Hello@themajorityscot, Mark Devlin. You’re old enough to be my dad. I gave you the benefit of the doubt at Christmas because I assumed you’d had a bad time of it?, but I’d like to ask you publicly to stop harassing me. It’s creepy, it’s hateful and it’s just sad.
Note how this tweet is framed. I am a man, ‘old enough to be her dad’ harassing a young girl (she calls herself a ‘wee lassie’ when she’s actually 21), and how she falsely paints herself as someone concerned about my wellbeing ‘giving me the benefit of the doubt because I was [somehow] having a bad time of it’. Read the earlier exchange; there is no benefit of the doubt.
What exactly about my content makes your willy shrivel up?
Pennie included screenshots of the previous day’s conversation with Facundo and DR. As I had blocked her, she would not have been able to see these tweets without either evading the block or someone else sending her the posts. Either way, my posts were not imposed upon her.
In fact, in a follow-up post when someone asks, ‘doesn’t he know he can block you?’
Mark he HAS ME BLOCKED, he’s directing hate my way and he’s actively searching up my tweets to screenshot. Absolute incel behaviour.
Which proves that she evaded the block. BTW, an incel is an ‘involuntary celibate’ someone who is frustrated that they are not able to get a woman. It is being used as a slur on my manhood. My wife and partner of 38 years would differ with that assessment. As a woman, she thinks (and I quote) that:
Pennie does a disservice to other women by hiding behind her man-blaming ‘wee lassie’ persona; instead she should act like the grown woman she is.
Pennie’s post was sent to her 103,000 followers. Her post was retweeted 130 times. At the time of writing, the post has over 1600 likes and 113 comments.
Pennie’s claims were retweeted FOUR TIMES by Janey Godley, to her 240,000 followers.
Why can’t you just leave her alone? WHY do you KEEP hassling this young woman?
The @themajorityscot and the right wing angry men hounded this poet for months – of course George Galloway joined in and they made a wee circle of older angry men – staring down a young lassie performing poems – creepy as fuck
What a surprise (link to the article in The National)
The old disgruntled Scottish Tories and right wing, red trouser wearing cabal of men who hound this young woman for creating poetry is appalling – we see EVERY ONE of you
Here are just a few examples of the hundreds of comments from Godley’s supporters:
Nothing says pathetic incel troll like harassing a young girl online and encouraging others to do so just because you don’t like that she speaks and promotes Scots. Absolute roaster and complete fanny.
What a dreadful man. I’m sorry you have to put up with these distorted species of menfolk. Please don’t let it discourage you from your fabulous creative work
Has anyone else noticed how similar Mark and Mary look? Almost like they were related before they were married? Might explain a few things….
Get him reported tae the polis for harassment,
If it were a perfect warld; he would be arrested juist fur Tweetin that.
blocked. Report this to the police, this comes under the new stalking laws from 2019
All of these comments are based on a false accusation. Each of these comments damages my reputation.
Additionally, Pennie’s comments were then reported in The National, a Scottish newspaper, with the headline: Scots poet Len Pennie hits out at ‘creepy, hateful’ remarks by The Majority
This article, based on a false accusation, also seriously damages my personal and business reputation. Based on the contents of this post, I expect an apology.
A TORRENT OF ABUSE
The Crown Prosecution Service defines harassment as:
repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contact upon a victim in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.
I have only had one direct communication with Len Pennie. I highly doubt any ‘reasonable person’ would say that the criticisms of her work at that time or more recently were designed to cause distress or fear. None of my communications were imposed on her. She invited my comment in December 2020 and was blocked from viewing recent comments. Contrary to her claim, I did not harass her, either in a legal sense or a common sense sense. As I have not harassed her, her characterisation of me as being ‘creepy’ and ‘hateful’ are also false.
I decided that the best way to avoid further accusations was to not respond. I had to sit here and watch the abuse pile up, and not respond to any of it. These people probably think they are good people…
She doesn’t want to fuck you, mate.
Impotent “man” threatened by young, intelligent and capable woman, takes to to Twitter in rage
She probably reminds him of the last woman who laughed at his shrivelled prick.
It is sad and pathetic. Wee man with a wee willy syndrome most likely. If you don’t like someone’s art, then ignore it, why go to the effort of trolling for absolutely no reason then when asked to stop, then keep at it and troll more especially behind a hidden profile.
He thinks if he does this keech his micro-penis will grow.
Another little mommy’s boy with a tiny willy… it’s the only place he thinks he has power…
These were especially annoying…
Twitter has this really great feature where you can no longer see the tweets of people you don’t want to. I know its fancy but I’m sure a guy like you will work it out, block her and she’ll live happily ever after. #getagrip
Maybe just do what she asked and leave her alone instead of trying to start your own pile on? I imagine behind your anon account you’re an actual adult? Maybe act like one? Just ignore her or block her if she’s upsetting you.
Look, she doesn’t want to engage with you, so what is the problem? Like in real life, you don’t need to talk to everyone and they don’t need to talk to you. So jog on and find someone who does want to chat.
Because she was blocked and I was actually telling people to stay away from her. She evaded my block, came into my timeline, and used those posts, along with Godley, to lie about me and encourage over 340,000 followers to pile-on and abuse me.
False claims demean the actual victims of online harassment. Online harassment is a serious issue that causes distress to many. However, criticising someone’s work, at their invitation or not, whether it is twice in a six month period or even more than that, is not harassment. Commenting on a timeline that a person is blocked from viewing is not harassment. Comments telling people to avoid someone are not harassment.
Godley and Pennie are simply bullies, who say, ‘If you dare to criticise our behaviour, even behind our backs, we will find out and you will suffer.’ But, it is not acceptable for Godley and Pennie to make false claims at my expense to gain sympathy from their followers. It is not acceptable to bully someone so that you can appear more virtuous to your followers.
They really think their shit doesn’t stink. They endlessly proclaim about how they support the marginalised, and support those with mental health issues, while simultaneously indulging in online abuse that hurts their targets’ mental health.
I am well aware that it is impossible to ‘win’ with these professional victims. If I post anything defending myself, including this article, they’ll simply whine ‘Oh he’s STILL posting about her. He’s obsessed! Creepy! Stalker! Incel!’ and their fans will say ‘Why are you harassing that wee lassie.’ But Len Pennie isn’t a ‘wee lassie’, she’s a grown woman, nearly 22 years old, and one of her adult responsibilities is to not indulge in false accusations. And it’s the responsibility of all of us online to do our best not to try to damage people by repeating lies.
It’s difficult to write that I have been bullied. It feels shameful, and no doubt there will be many Godley fans who will instinctively want to victim-shame me.
But the truth is that this incident upset me quite badly; it was the lowest point in the entire time I’ve been doing The Majority. Over the course of two days, I had to watch as hundreds of people, prompted by Godley and Pennie’s lie, repeated their false accusation, while insulting and demeaning me in the most derogatory terms, while not being able to fight back in case they did it even more. I knew I was being bullied, but couldn’t do anything about it.
Worst of all: their bullying achieved its result; it kept me silent, even until this morning.
I actually wrote this article in the days after I was harrassed, but decided not to publish it, to avoid further pile ons. However, today I was so sickened by Godley’s apology and her continuing claims to victimhood that I decided enough was enough.
Reading this text, it’s clear that Godley would like you to think that her abuse is confined to just a few tweets. But her tweets don’t stand alone; they are part of a pattern of online abuse and bullying behaviour, backed with a gigantic sense of victimhood.
Even today, Godley has claimed to be the victim twice: once to say she’s held to a higher standard because she’s a woman…
It is what it is two wrongs don’t make a right I have to be held to a higher standard because I’m a woman
…and again to claim her mental health is suffering. It’s simply revolting when an abuser claims the privilege of the people she abuses.
Always the victim. I also noticed that Godley’s apology wasn’t directed to any particular person. It’s easy to apologise to nebulous victims without a name. It’s easy to get ’apology praise’ from your followers when there isn’t a face to put on the victims. So it’s no surprise to see her shopping her apology to bask in the praise of her followers: ‘Nobody’s perfect, Janey’, ‘You’re brave, Janey’, ‘You’re a good person, Janey’.
But, I am here, I’m a real person. I’m not anonymous. Alongside Len Pennie, you falsely accused me of harassment and invited thousands of your followers to pile on and abuse me. I’m a real victim of your online bullying.
So, where’s my apology, Janey?
Mark Devlin is the publisher of The Majority
If you have been subject to online bullying by Janey Godley or other well-known Scottish people, please contact me through Twitter or at email@example.com. #CallItOut
In other news we have some new articles coming up. Stay tuned…
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