GILLIAN Mackay MSP questions why the police intervened in anti-monarchy protests and not in pro-life vigils ("Anti-monarchy arrests raise ‘questions’ over anti-abortion protest stance, heraldscotland, September 26).

The simple answer is that anti-monarchy protesters were shouting, heckling and using profanities in their protests, a breach of the peace if you will, whereas those attending pro-life vigils stand quietly on the street praying and holding signs offering help to women. As much as Ms Mackay wants us to believe that pro-lifers are like the former, it simply is not true. Ms Mackay and the supporters of the proposed Abortion Services Safe Access Zones (Scotland) Bill have provided no concrete evidence of criminal or threatening behaviour linked to pro-life vigils.

Buffer zones are unnecessary as existing legislation can deal with any problems that might arise at pro-life events. The prosecution of peaceful demonstrators for their political opinions or religious beliefs is something usually associated with oppressive regimes. Shawn Carney, the CEO of 40 Days for Life, recently highlighted at the March for Life in London that it is easier to bear pro-life witness in China than it is in Scotland. Ms Mackay should think on this as she so enthusiastically seeks to implement such a controversial bill. Buffer zones should have no place in Scottish society.
Martin Conroy, Cockburnspath, Berwickshire

Bus reluctance is not snobbery

DUNCAN Cameron, managing director at First Bus, wrote recently extolling the virtues of travelling by bus and accuses some of those less disposed to bus travel of snobbery ("We need to end the snobbery when it comes to bus use", The Herald, September 22).

In the same week it was reported that Stagecoach will no longer be operating an evening service from Kilmarnock bus station due to anti-social behaviour.

East Ayrshire councillor Barry Douglas was reported as saying that incidents involving gangs of youths had been going on for a while but had escalated in recent days. He said they included passengers and staff being intimidated and threatened, vandalism and reports of assaults.

Those avoiding buses due to the anti-social behaviour described are not snobs, they are simply putting their own safety and welfare first.
David Clark, Tarbolton

If you only read this ...

YOUR recent article on the Oxford comma ("Issue of the day: Shock diktat on the Oxford comma", The Herald, September 17) has inspired some comment. The Oxford comma should clearly be used if it clarifies an otherwise ambiguous meaning, but not only it needs careful use to ensure correct interpretation.

A misplaced “only” can entirely reverse the intent, as I once found when my “only after five years” implying in the context a long time, was changed to “after only five years” implying a short time. We often say things like “he only went to school for three years”; no, he did many other things too, but “went to school for only three years”.

Apostrophes are also vital, as in “I forgot my lunch so I ate the dogs instead” rather than “dog’s”.

The inelegant use of “they” in place of “he or she” can be misleading if the previous text also refers to several people; and this is now exacerbated by the current and sometimes heated debate about pronouns. We need a new English word or words to cover these meanings.

A recent reviewer of James Hutton’s biography wrote that Hutton “had not, like David Hume and Adam Smith, schooled himself to correct this” (ie in his use of Scots rather than English). The reviewer’s intent is clear but the wording ambiguous; in that construction I think “unlike” would have been more grammatically correct.

Finally, MPs and journalists whose tools of trade are the English language, should not mix up “over” and “under” as prefixes to “stated” or “estimated”, as Ian Blackford MP did in his tribute to the late Queen that “Scotland’s affection…..cannot be underestimated”. It can and is by some people. We often read journalistic errors like “their significance cannot be understated” when “overstated” or “should not be understated” is meant.

But it’s an uphill struggle, when numerous MPs, MSPs, ministers and others presumably well educated, frequently tell us “Me and my team are doing XYZ” instead of “My team and I”; or “they gave lunch to my wife and I”, or “her and her husband went on holiday”.
John Birkett, St Andrews

• I NOTE Thelma Edwards' reproof of the use of “the hoi” and “weaved” instead of “woven” (Letters, September 26),

and wonder if “the hoi” is given the old heave-ho will it have been “heaved” or well and truly “hoven”?
R Russell Smith, Largs

Why we were snap happy

I WAS interested in Doug Marr's article today ("I don't care about your selfies. Get the picture?", The Herald, September 26). My late sister-in-law Myfanwy Edwards was a dab hand at photography. As a single lady in the 1970s she borrowed our children to take away on various holidays. The photographic results of those holidays could be hilarious.

One photo, taken in a hotel room, shows their toilet (pink and pretty) and another, of a visit to a zoo, shows a decapitated bear as she managed a close-up photograph of an iron bar of the enclosure, which appeared to have sprouted ears. Ones taken while her camera is pointed over her shoulder were often the most realistic but no-one had any idea what or where they were depicting, except the one of her own ear. A finger covering the lens was quite common, leaving us to guess what it could have been. Goodness knows what she would have done with one of these modern gizmos.

My husband Jim, her loving brother, said she was just a "rubbish snapper" but I thought that Mivvy was a treasure – pity there are not more like her on this planet. Not necessarily in the photographic business but just being in the world, making people smile and feel happy and fall about laughing at her snaps.
Thelma Edwards, Kelso

World news

I WONDER if other followers of the tennis Laver Cup between Team Europe and Team the World ("Tiafoe’s heroics help Team World win trophy", Herald Sport, September 26) were surprised to hear several times "Two challenges remain to Team World". I wish.
Kirsteen Maclean, Bearsden


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.