As many of you know well, I am a geek about the Roman Empire, in particular the early years when it was run by what historians refer to as the Julio-Claudian dynasty; from the era of Octavian up until the death of Nero, from roughly 44BC until AD68.
In the midst of this period – when Rome had five emperors – was the reign of Caligula. Whilst not as insane as Nero, he was, some historians claim, nevertheless barking mad, arrogant and sadistic.
He also hated the Senate with a passion that can best be summed up by stories that he nominated his horse, Incitatus, to that famous body and even talked of making it Consul.
It is probably history’s greatest expression of contempt.
I thought about that a lot when the Sevco directors named Chris Graham as one of them.
I chortled over that appointment because it was so obviously ridiculous, and bound to end in tears.
Caligula payed for his own numerous insults with death; he was assassinated in a conspiracy involving a number of senators and his own Praetorian Guard.
Graham too was taken care of, when it became obvious even to the blinkered idiots who had thought him fit for such a post that he was radioactive.
There were no knives in his back but it seems clear he was convinced to jump before he was pushed, to spare the club further embarrassment.
He is an embarrassment.
The website he helped found, which is called The Rangers Standard, actually started out with good ideas and noble intentions.
I read some of the earlier pieces, and thought they were excellent and opened up a lot of possibilities for the club’s supporters engaging with other fans.
That didn’t last long.
The lunatics were soon in charge of the asylum and the title became a grim unintended parody of itself.
They’ve been scraping the bottom of the barrel for a long time now.
Over the weekend, Graham’s organ went right through the bottom, hit the dirt and started digging for China.
Low standards have become no standards.
Any shred of credibility he and his website had is gone.
When Sevco played St Mirren on Friday night, there was a minutes silence for the ex-Rangers player Sammy Cox.
After the match, somebody with a rather big mouth and an extremely small brain “informed” the team at The Rangers Standard that the journalist Peter Martin had refused to stand in observance of this.
Now, there are many reasons why someone might not stand.
Maybe they can’t.
Maybe they are unwell and need to remain in the seat.
Maybe they knew the person personally – and Martin would certainly have known Sammy Cox, in a professional capacity as well as a social one – and choose to pay a silent, reflective, tribute by taking a moment to sit and think about the times they had spent together.
And, of course, the whole thing might just be cobblers.
Which, you won’t be surprised to learn, is exactly what it turned out to be.
But none of that entered the mind of the erstwhile Sevco director or whoever was in charge of the Twitter feed on that particular day.
They tweeted an accusatory and highly inflammatory, even dangerous, allegation without checking the facts, without considering nuance, without thinking about the consequences.
There are a range of potential consequences too.
When one considers bombs sent to people’s homes and fans running onto the pitch to attack a Celtic manager, you do get a sense of what some on the far fringes of sanity might consider or even engage in following such a dramatic disclosure.
The mind-numbing stupidity of this act is equalled only by its sheer recklessness.
And at its heart is a horrible, evil presumption that can only be the product of a hateful mind.
Graham or one of his people heard this and believed it because they see the whole world through their own set of unhealthy prejudices.
They didn’t bother with the “benefit of the doubt” or anything else; they heard the story, applied their own thought processes to it (such as they are) and concluded that they should put it out there because it sounded right in their own head.
I am harsh on our press. But even I realise that much of what I perceive as anti-Celtic bias is simply the hacks slotting into a culture which we have here.
Every word out of Ibrox is treated as gospel although the institution run out of that ground is a basket case and much of what pours out of its PR wings is purely and simply absolute cobblers.
Celtic, on the other hand, are scrutinised and held to different standards, from the boardroom to the dugout.
It’s more than just because we’re now the biggest club in the country; there’s an element of bitterness in it at times … but that’s just part of living here in Scotland.
The word “hate” doesn’t factor into my thinking.
Hate is a strong word, a vicious word, a word that is overused when it ought to be one we apply very carefully.
Some of the hacks don’t like my club much.
Some of them may be overly enamoured with the Ibrox operation.
But it would take an almost mind-bending display of ugliness – the kind not seen since David Leggat last worked for a national title – before I’d accuse one of the hacks of outright hating Celtic, of wishing us harm, of being motivated by nothing else.
Can you imagine the level of loathing it takes for someone not to pay their respects to a dead man, just because of the football club he played for?
Thank God, but that kind of mentality is exceedingly rare and there isn’t a single one of our journalists – not one, no matter how much I may do my nut at the things they write or say – who is built like that.
And Peter Martin?
A couple of seconds of rational contemplation should have dissuaded anyone from giving even the remotest credence to such obvious bullshit.
For Gods sakes, if you were looking to pick a guy who’s considerate, genuine and without a bitter, far less hateful, bone in his body you couldn’t do much better.
That anyone with a degree of level-headedness would think, for a second, that he’s moved by those emotions … it’s unbelievable.
Whoever sent out that tweet belongs in a secure unit, pulling the padding out of his cell walls.
Sevco are at war with the media at the moment – or select parts of it anyway, those which actually see “doing the news” as an essential part of the job and which don’t just regurgitate Level 5 PR statements as if they were Holy Writ – and the whole club is wrapping itself in the “no-one likes us we don’t care” comfort blanket of old.
But they need to pull their heads out of their backsides and this humiliating screw up – and the Rangers Standard has already apologised, but only after Martin explicitly accused them of lying and said he wouldn’t stand for it, threatening to sue – ought to give them pause and a wee moment for thinking about what they’re actually engaged in here.
Some of them clearly do prefer living in ignorance to being in possession of the facts, even those that could help them.
Some of them are more comfortable making enemies lists than engaging with other clubs and their supporters.
But this perma-rage has made their club weaker, not stronger.
It has made their lives harder, not easier.
For some there’s simply no going back though; this consumes them now, and colossal errors of judgement and breaks with reality are simply the norm with a large section of them, one that really has swallowed the Survival Myth whole and believes in the Victim Myth without question.
The Rangers Standard has apologised on Twitter, to Martin and to its own readers, giving them assurances that they were told of Martin’s refusal to stand and hinting that they used it in “good faith.”
There is no “good faith” argument in running a gutter level lie.
They get no credit for their apology, which actually reeks of fear of legal consequences as much as genuine contrition.
It isn’t the first time they’ve slandered people; Graham in particular enjoys throwing the word “bigot” around, although he’s the one who had to resign from the Sevco board for such conduct. Their twitter feed also throws the words “lies” and “liars” around with almost reckless abandon that, sooner or later, will result in them ending up in court.
So no, they get no credit for being “sorry”.
What started out as a positive, intelligent and potentially important website for the NewCo supporters has become something ugly, something reckless and self-absorbed, but it’s embraced by a lot of people who are simply lost in the darkness in which their club still finds itself, in spite of recent improved performances on the pitch.
These guys could do themselves and the club they purport to love a huge service by disbanding and shutting the Hell up.
At the very least, they might want to consider a name change.
And on the other hand … maybe not.
They have, after all, been key supporters of the Glib & Shameless South African tax cheat and his band of fellow travellers, those who thought appointing Chris Graham to the board was a good idea, as Caligula once thought nominating his horse to the Senate was.
For this shoddy, shabby, cowardly behaviour …it’s the norm now.
Their own board, after all, has broken promises, engaged in shady practices, changed its story like the weather and after promising a “new era of transparency” is banning journalists who have the cheek to do their jobs.
This is The Rangers Standard now, isn’t it?
Talk about fiddling whilst Rome burns.
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