In his Scotzine article titled ‘Paranoia and bigotry – it was just a matter of time‘, guest writer Tam Payne predicted that the “siege mentality” created by Charles Green would result in the emboldening of the undesirable elements within the Rangers support. In his latest piece, Tam discusses the actions of a portion of Rangers fans in today’s game against Berwick Rangers.
I am not a Catholic, in fact, I am not even remotely religious. However, only the foolish would suggest that belief in the literal interpretation of religious theology is a prerequisite for the holding of standardised moral understandings. Indeed there are certain moral standards that most human beings share regardless of which particular belief system they choose to identify with. This afternoon, I witnessed football fans display an affront to one of these moral standards with an unashamed glee that chilled me to my very core.
The moral standard in question – that no one should be persecuted or derided on the basis of the religion that they choose to follow – was torn asunder in front of a global TV audience. This shames not only the perpetrators but casts shame on our entire country. Let me make this clear, this article is not about having a go at Rangers, it is no secret that I am a proud Celtic fan and obviously Rangers are my club’s historic rivals, but this is about the Scotland that I want to live in. A Scotland where you may hold whatever view you like but you may not force it on the rest of us.
I will make my political positions apparent so that no one can accuse me of being “easily offended” or “a hand wringer”, I am a Libertarian. This means I defend everyone’s right to equality. I may be atheist but I defend the rights of religious people to exist in peace. I believe that all human beings are 100% equal and no one should be persecuted or deemed inferior. I am pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-religious equality, pro-racial equality and pro-free speech so this is NOT an attack on the RIGHT of people to say or sing what they want, including what we others find offensive, this is about morality and trying to analyse why these attitudes prevail.
This afternoon while flicking through the television – trying hard to avoid cookery shows & politics talk shows – I stumbled across ESPN and noticed that a game from the bottom tier of Scottish football was to be broadcast nationwide. I will be the first to hold my hands up and admit that I usually have no interest in lower tier football but the concestor to my own club’s historic rival were involved in this game. To say my interest was aroused would be an understatement. I sat down to watch the game as my Rangers supporting partner taunted me with the usual “obsessed” jibes. I chose to ignore her as I so often do. Unlike my erstwhile partner, the events that were to unfold could not be ignored.
The game started and it took a moment or two for my eyes to adjust to the aesthetics of what a Scottish third division game looks like. Exactly what has befallen this version of Rangers became apparent to me. My disbelief at the situation that Rangers fans claim they are enjoying was replaced by disbelief at what I began to hear. The singing from Rangers fans came thick, fast and was surprisingly audible over the ESPN in-ground microphones. The fervency and gusto with which the songs were being belted out gave the impression this was more like a rally and less like a football match.
The verbal choral which made up the Rangers fans repertoire included songs about the pope, catholics, Fenians, pedophilia, dead protesters and Irish paramilitary organisations. It was unrelenting. The chorus continued, filled with the most enthusiastic form of defiance and each verse sang as if it was a hymnal tribute to a recently departed friend or a national hero. I began to feel uneasy. I may not be a catholic but I have catholic friends, family and workmate’s and I began to feel genuinely guilty about even letting these songs enter my realm of existence. A particularly loud song about pedophilia and “catholic scum” pushed me to the limit and off the TV went. My partner was ashamed and called it “disgusting”. I assured her that we all know most Rangers fans do not share these views.
I was unsure at first if I was perhaps over-reacting. Maybe I was being too delicate and being too sensitive? I decided to gauge general opinion by checking my twitter timeline (@TamPayne2) and it was heartening to see such strong and widespread condemnation of the singing from a variety of people North and South of the border. There was even a good few comments from Rangers officials, fans and bloggers which left no doubt. This WAS something different and particularly nasty. The unashamed vigour behind these crass and horrible ditties must have come from somewhere. I found myself thinking about the recent chronology of Scottish football and the growing anger from Rangers fans.
Where has this resurgence in “loud and proud” bigoted ideology come from? I penned an article for Scotzine some months back when Charles Green accused the entirety of Scottish football of “bigotry”. I said in the article that the insinuations and demagogy of Green were dangerous. I warned that Scottish society had to stand up and prevent our country from descending into a swamp of paranoid sectarian hatred and tribalism. My article was about the need for all of Scottish football to unite against Green’s moronic creation of a “they awe hate iz cuz wur Rainjurz” siege mentality.
I suggested that the mainstream media would have to play a part by condemning and reigning in the outlandish statements of Charles Green. I warned that we could be at the start of a slow descent into a “Barnaby Rudge” type scenario. I compared Charles Green to Lord George Gordon, the demented aristocrat who whipped up a mob into an anti-Catholic frenzy which led to the infamous “Gordon Riots”. It is further curious that the most famous painting depicting the Gordon Riots was painted by an artist called…..Charles Green. I was accused of foolish sensationalism at the time but my comparisons appear to have been vindicated.
It is with sadness that since my article, I have watched the mainstream media not only refuse to condemn or mock Charles Green’s daily nonsensical outbursts and bullying statements……the mainstream media have actually PRAISED Charles Green! They have said that he has to “tell the fans what they want to hear” and is “playing the Rangers fans” and they have praised him for this. No matter how dangerous his conspiracy theories about the SFA, the SPL and his daily statements (which seem to always mention Celtic) are, the mainstream media have encouraged and praised him for it. Green is very much the travelling elixir salesman of Scottish football. He can be forgiven for – by his own admission – not knowing anything about Rangers or their fans but the media in this country should have been making him aware of just how dangerous some of his insinuations could be.
I am of the belief that to have a hatred of a person or a group of people based on their religion alone requires a very particular type of disordered personality. Someone who is not intelligent enough to separate themselves from a herd mentality and allow themselves to be led by paranoia and unfounded mythology which is often perpetuated by internet forums and blogs. This type of person usually needs to be “told-off” like a misbehaving toddler. This type of unhinged simpleton is usually the type who listens to football phone-ins and forms his opinions based on what ranting lunatics scream down the phone at a Rangers defending panel. The type of person who thinks that if they are getting away with something or not being challenged then they can do what they want. This is the type of slobbering ungulate who believes they are the persecuted party and their crusade is one of self-defence.
If you think back over the last few months this particular type of unthinking habiline has heard very little condemnation of “Lord Green” and very little challenging of his multitude of claims and sinister insinuations. In fact, all that the babyish malformities who make up the twisted & bigoted minority have heard is universal support and defence of Charles Green and Rangers. When you are bombarded with wall to wall coverage in the rags and radio phone in shows that says “we need you!” “football is finished without you!” “Charles Green is a shrewd operator” “we all need Rangers” “the absence of Rangers is why crowds are down” and all the other usual mainstream media fawning over Rangers, is it really any wonder why those with limited cognitive capacity may end up developing a superiority complex?
I do not read most newspapers as I believe that corporate media cannot be separated from a corporate agenda (In a nutshell sell the story and spin it to whatever will make us money) but I do listen to phone-in shows as a way to keep an eye on the mainstream media agenda. I have noticed the sheer and unrestricted reluctance of the panelists on these shows to challenge Rangers supporting callers on ANYTHING! Insinuations about Celtic’s achievements being worthless without Rangers, Charles Green’s boastings, insinuations about Peter Lawwell and the SFA, insinuations about Neil Lennon, claims that Rangers are the victims….months and months of unchallenged nonsense. The media have done NOTHING but encourage the bigoted band of underbreed who shamed us on national television today.
So what can we do? Believe it or not I am still of the opinion that this is not the place of the government or police to get involved. They have already proven themselves incapable of enforcing the current legislation properly. The bi-chinned Alex Salmond has already launched a totalitarian assault on free speech over the Scottish footballing public with the silly legislation that he brought in after the Neil Lennon attack two seasons ago. There ARE laws in place but the police seem to think this law translates into “harass Celtic fans and the Green Brigade”, now I am no fan of the Green Brigade but they have been the sole victims of this poorly structured and pointless legislation. I am of the opinion that – even if I am against it – if you have a law…..ENFORCE IT. Enforce it without fear or favour. But our police and authorities seem incapable or unwilling to do so.
It is my opinion that if the authorities are unwilling or unable to enforce their own poorly structured legislation then it is up to the rest of us to help make it clear this will not be tolerated on this scale. It is up to our society to stand up to this and let the vulgar minority know that we do not find this acceptable. When Rangers fans sing anti-Catholic songs we have to occupy phone ins, twitter, facebook and all the communication media we have to highlight how unacceptable it is. Whenever they use their “Celtic fans sing songs about terrorism” we have to point out that some of their fans sing songs about the UVF and the UDA who are proscribed by the UK government as “terrorist organisations”. I know one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, but the bottom line is simple – the IRA, UVF and UDA are ALL deemed as terrorist organisations by the UK government. When they gleefully sing about pedophilia we have to be vocal that this is not a subject to be used as a football point-scoring exercise or for humour. Whenever Charles Green says something untrue or something to incite the dissident bigot minority then the mainstream media have to challenge him and deride him for it.
If we continue to just stay quiet, leave them to it and let the media fawn over them we will continue to see days like today. We have to encourage the intelligent Rangers to stop being so quiet and encourage them to stand up against the lunatic and vocal portion of their support. We have to send a strong and unified message that the majority of us and our society do NOT want a repeat of what went on this afternoon. There will always be a few morons within every support who sing sick, offensive or simply crass songs but that is just about tolerable……the scale of what we witnessed today is simply not.
One thing is for certain, if we continue to allow the paranoid, deluded and uninformed lunatic fringe harbour their strange mix of both a persecution and a superiority complex then this will only be the beginning of a dark epoch in Scottish football. With the SPL investigation into undeclared payments about to reach its anticipated climax…….we are about to move onto the next chapter in this nightmarish and macabre tombe. Rangers fans have to grow up and grow up fast. If this investigation doesn’t go their way then they have to accept that an independent panel of legal experts have reached an impartial conclusion and they must accept whatever punishment or redemption comes their way.
Hopefully today was the wake-up call that the intelligensia among the Rangers support and the mainstream media needed. Otherwise, this is only the beginning of the end and someone, most likely an innocent victim, is going to get seriously hurt….or worse.