The Herald Sacks Angela Haggerty As Journalistic Freedom Hangs By A Thread

Angela Haggerty 1 SAToday, as the bulk of Scotland’s journalists keep a low profile and say nothing in support of Graham Spiers, a second columnist at the Herald has been carpeted after pressure from Sevco.

This time it’s Angela Haggerty, and this time the paper didn’t stop with embarrassing her.

In fact, they sacked her.

To call this a crisis for the profession is an understatement. Its entire reason for being is hanging by a thread. No-one working within its ranks is safe today if they collectively allow this to happen, without comment, without criticism, standing idly by as they currently do.

One organisation – and it’s a skint West of Scotland football club; we’re not talking about a multi-billion pound transnational corporate behemoth with unlimited funds and a legal department that would make Coca Cola’s CEO piss his pants – has decided it will not tolerate any negative press, at all, and it is now set on threatening any media outlet which doesn’t play ball.

And most of Scotland’s press has fallen shamefully silent.

I have never had less respect for them than I do today. I have never felt this much contempt for those who work within its ranks.

They are cowards almost to a man.

The rare exceptions are hung out to dry and made twist in the wind for the amusement of a mob.

There’s no excuse for it.

If their business is really all about money – and commercial considerations appear to be high on the list of factors in what The Herald has done – then they’re essentially putting a price tag on their integrity.

And in this case, that appears to be around £40,000.

So an entire generation of real journalists, of writers of conviction, decades of breaking big stories and a proud history of bringing truth to power, it’s all been flogged off and betrayed, for less than the half the price of a one bedroom flat in the drug addict part of town.

What price a free press in Scotland, eah?

In England, Peter Oborne resigned last year from The Telegraph, after he said their entire coverage of the banking industry and the politics surrounding it had been slanted by the advertising fees paid by organisations like HSBC, who were under investigation for multiple counts of fraud, money laundering and other offences … none of which his paper wanted to write about.

This is where we are now in Scotland, it seems, only a smaller scale.

A much smaller one.

An embarrassingly small one.

There’s no such thing as a free press; now you, too, can buy it for the price of a family car.

For some at these papers, the stench must be overwhelming.

Oborne wasn’t a man working alone, as Graham Spiers isn’t. Yet Angela was the first mainstream journalist working in the media here in Scotland to stand up for him, and based on what’s just happened to her certain people will be calculating that she’s going to be the last.

She better not be.

Everyone who can hold a pen should be behind her.

You know, when the Charlie Hebdo attacks murdered so many of that publication’s journalists in Paris, it brought forth a wave of support for journalist freedom that filled me with enormous pride.

I now realise how phony that all was, because it’s easy to express support for the dead when you’re not personally in the gun-sights. It’s easy to take a stand, or to look like you’re taking a stand, when you’re not being put under pressure. What we saw wasn’t courage; it was calculation. An entire industry lathered itself up in self congratulation for its “courage”, and all the while it buried child abuse allegations, government scandals, allowed criminals to escape justice and corrupt corporations to escape scrutiny … out of fear.

Fear of less than a bullet.

Fear of losing a few quid.

Here in Scotland journalists fold the hand because they get some abuse on Twitter. Editors refuse to let plainly true stories run because the Blue KKK might organise a dozen or so unemployed yobs to protest outside on a Monday morning. And God knows how much gets buried because advertisers issue veiled threats about pulling their copy.

Can you imagine these people ever doing anything so serious as to warrant the attention of real fanatics, and not just the Saturday afternoon variety?

No, me neither.

A collection of cowards, that’s what we have instead of a press.

The only people with guts in all this are the Bampots, of whom Angela is a shining example.

She’ll continue to write the truth, no matter what it costs her, because she gets it. She understands. She takes the job seriously and she knows that, in the end, she herself is a cog in a big wheel and her voice is important, and maintaining it through this kind of shit is what will keep the nature of what she does going long after those who sold it out are dead and gone.

Those of us in the blogosphere don’t do it for huge rewards.

I work for limited advertising and donations, and entirely without regrets.

The bills get paid (most of the time) but I’m not driving a sports car.

I have a media degree and could have pursued a career in the press, but I never wanted it.

On a day like today I’m glad of that.

Because I couldn’t do as Graham Spiers may have to.

I couldn’t go into the offices of an organisation that just shafted me.

I couldn’t call myself a journalist and have my livelihood dependent on the whims of the advertising department.

And that’s not a criticism of Graham. I’ve read his work, and I know he has balls. I also understand where he is right now. The guy probably has a mortgage to pay and a wife and kids to support; he’s not in a position where he can spit the dummy out of the pram and walk away.

Which is exactly the point.

No newspaper worthy of the name should ever put one of its writers in such a diabolical, heart-wrenching position.

It makes me sick. It makes me physically sick.

Graham knows now what his lifetime of work has been worth, and what it means to the bean counters. That has to hurt like a bastard and to say I feel enormous sympathy with him, and with Angela, and with every other writer out there who’s facing similar pressure … well words don’t do justice to how absolutely scunnered I am for them all.

Here on the blogosphere, we operate entirely without those concerns.

But we also work entirely without a safety net.

The media is fond of telling their readers that there are no restrictions on what we are allowed to write – as if the libel laws and contempt of court laws don’t exist on the internet. In truth, our every article is a walk along the tightrope. Our every utterance has to be weighed against the possible consequences, and I’m not just talking about legal ones.

We know what’s out there.

We know those people exist.

Some of us deal with their abuse on a day to day basis.

But we’re big boys and girls, and we can take it.

We have to, because on days like today it looks as if no-one else will.

But I could be wrong.

Maybe every journalist in Scotland is furious about this. Maybe they’re organising industrial action in support of their colleagues even now. Maybe they get that to walk away from Graham and Angela is to paint a target on their backs. Maybe they get what an enormous moment this is. Maybe.

And then again, maybe some of them just don’t care.

Hell, the money is good, it’s steady, and you get to see your name in print.

What’s not to like?

Like career politicians, with not one iota of political conviction, maybe that’s what really matters to them.

And if that’s the case, hey, fair play to they.

But they ought to stop pretending to be journalists.

This is the third article in a row I’ve written on this site, on this subject, and that is depressing and infuriating in equal measure.

Yet it’s important to keep on doing it.

It’s important to keep on speaking the truth, even when it does come at a cost.

Even when it does have consequences.

Because the cost and the consequences of silence are even greater still.

(I’m a full time writer and the support of my readers is what keeps me goingr. If you like what I do, and are able, and want to support the work the site does, you can make a donation at the link. If every reader was able to donate a small sum every year that would keep the site going strong well into the future. Many thanks in advance.)


Spiers “Apology” Heralds In Dark Days For Scottish Journalism

hqdefaultThere’s a moment during the film Nuremberg, starring Alec Baldwin, Brian Cox, Christopher Plummer and a host of other top stars, when Hermann Goering is relaxing in his cell awaiting the next phase of his trial, when he is visited by a young American soldier named Tex.

Goering, played to perfection by Cox, greets him warmly, as the two have formed an unusual bond during the course of his imprisonment. The kid is impressionable, and Goering knows this.

Goering starts to tell him stories of the Reich, and of the Fuhrer.

At one point he starts to hum a tune, and then he begins to sing the song, whilst tapping his feet and waving his arms. It sets the mood he’s trying to evoke quite brilliantly.

Tex is now completely caught up in the Nazi leader’s memories of watching thousands of men march in front of the Glorious Leader. When Goering suggests the remnants of the despotic regime should be freed, and that both sides should “unite to fight the Communists” Tex agrees with him wholeheartedly.

I’ve always wondered if Tex went away humming the song.

If he did, he would quickly have found himself in trouble with the brass.

It’s a catchy enough tune, and one that predates the Nazi Party’s usage of it. In fact, it’s an ancient German folk song, but it’s one I strongly suspect isn’t heard anymore. The modern incarnation has closed off all avenues of revival.

We now know it as the Horst Wessel Lied.

I would never describe it as “a great song.”

Because it’s not.

Don’t get me wrong, the lyrics contain nothing explicit about bigotry or hate; it’s about a shoot-out with Communists where Wessel, a Nazi Youth member, was killed – other songs dealt with the racist stuff – but it was the Nazi Party’s anthem and if you played it at parties you’d run out of friends quickly and if you sang it walking down the street you’d get a sore face shortly thereafter.

This isn’t about musical appreciation.

I have eclectic tastes and listen to everything from country rock to classical.

I am big on lyrics, above all else, and whilst I think, for example, the Spitting Image song I’ve Never Met A Nice South African is one of the best (and most hilarious) that biting, satirical show ever turned out I would not play it, far less sing it, in a public forum because it would be staggeringly offensive in a modern context.

It is hard to think of any setting – outside a dingy back street boozer in Glasgow or the Six Counties, or, of course, at Ibrox – in which there wouldn’t be people who found The Billy Boys not only to be offensive but bigoted with it.

Yet a director at Sevco, a current director, apparently described it as “a great song” whilst talking to a journalist.

There is no context in which that is anything other than a shocking statement.

That journalist, Graham Spiers, a guy this site has criticised as well as praised, rightly decided that this was a news story.

On 30 December, he told the tale in a piece he wrote.

In fact, I would go much further than just to say it was newsworthy. It ought to have been the headline above the piece.

It was a massively important news story; current, informing public debate, challenging officialdom, suggesting that a football club that perceives itself as a tremendously powerful social institution had, on its board, someone who had sympathies with people engaged in criminality and sectarianism.

The enormity of that cannot be overstated, especially as the debate over the issue has blossomed since the piece was run.

Now football’s governing bodies, the police and non-governmental organisations such as Nil By Mouth are pressing for Strict Liability rules to be implemented inside Scottish grounds.

We also know that the SFA is also seeking public funds for facial recognition software to be installed in stadiums.

Current rules, which the SFA believes are not robust enough, mean that clubs have to demonstrate that they’re “taking all possible measures” to keep discriminatory chanting out of their stands.

The Ibrox club is currently under investigation by the football authorities, with a decision due based on that criteria.

In other words, the importance of that story has only grown since publication.

This is what good journalists do, and good newspapers are supposed to stand by them when they do it.

Here in Scotland, of course, that doesn’t always happen.

A number of journalists have, in the past few years, been targeted for daring to deliver the news and in some cases their employers have not done enough to lend them support in the face of it.

Jim Spence was just one case in point, but there are others.

With respect to Jim, I think what has happened to Graham Spiers, in this case, is of a far worse, and much more sinister, nature. He has been well and truly hung out to dry by The Herald, and he knows it. Whilst his independent statement is coached in conciliatory language, for the most part, his anger is plain and his disillusionment is clear.

They could not make him apologise or retract the story, although it’s clear they tried to make him do both. When he stood by his piece their one and only question – if they even had to ask – should have been “Is this true?” When he answered in the affirmative that should have been that.

They should have stood by their man, and resisted the “pressure.”

Instead they apologised for him, and “clarified” things in his name.

It is beyond scandalous, gutless and embarrassing for everyone at the paper who isn’t up in arms over the way the top brass have behaved.

Frankly, I’ll never trust a word I read in The Herald or any of its sister papers again. Because if they can be spooked into retracting a news story on the basis of pressure from a second tier football club or a rabid pack of its followers then nothing they say can be relied on when it comes to challenging those who have real power and influence.

Their credibility as a journalistic vehicle is shot, pure and simple.

As far as I’m concerned they have joined the tabloids in pandering and sucking up, in framing “the news” so as not to offend certain people, people who, these days, are offended by everything anyway.

It is cowardly, and corrupt, almost beyond comprehension.

I am amazed he’s not already tendered his resignation, because his statement makes it pretty clear just how pissed off he is.

I hope he’s taking the matter to the NUJ and making it clear that he’s not going to stand for it.

In addition, he might want to take a look at the Rangers Supporters Trust website and their article on the Herald’s craven crawling, because there are things in that statement that are unmistakably libellous, such as the assertion that he has “made a career out of fanning the flames of sectarianism” and numerous examples where it calls him a liar.

I’ve written about the way that organisation behaves before; if I were a Sevco fan reading some of their press releases I would be cringing with embarrassment and shame and this one is as base ignorant and deliberately provocative as any I’ve had the misfortune to read, and it crosses a line in the sand that it should not be allowed to get away with.

These people, the conduct of their club and those who run it, and the assortment of idiots, cretins and vile bigots who swarm around in the vortex, never cease to amaze me with the level of their bile and intolerance.

These things are probably to be expected in those with 15th century attitudes still fighting the wars of their grandfather’s forefather’s ancestors (and without really understanding them), but the level of bullying and intimidation they get away with is what really takes the breath away.

I’m not even remotely afraid of these people, and it stuns me that senior editors on national newspapers are.

On the days when my inbox fills with invective and my Twitter feed oozes with their slime, in the moments when my Facebook page is crawling with trolls, all ending their posts with some kind of reference to child abuse or closing off with their standard statement of racial and religious “supremacy”, I don’t despair or get spooked.

I am emboldened.

Because I know I’m doing it right.

Chris McLaughlin was “doing it right” when he reported the outbreak of sectarian singing at the Hibs game.

For this he was banned by the club itself.

Jim Spence was “doing it right” when he called out the Survival Myth for the aberrant fantasy most rational people know it to be.

For that, he was harassed and bullied and his employers threatened until they offered a ridiculous apology simply because he stated the facts.

Angela Haggerty was “doing it right” when she called time on the way she’s been treated by these appalling bastards and their sickening level of hate.

She no longer lives in Scotland, and has been forced to seek redress in the law courts because of what she’s endured.

Other journalists have suffered similar persecution for behaving in a way that’s consonant with the job description, and what the Herald has done to Graham Spiers for “doing it right” is dangerous, and an affront, to every single one of them and every single person in Scotland, whether at a mainstream publication, a local paper, or simply blogging online and who is dedicated to telling the truth.

The last article I published on this site was on this very thing; about the way certain Sevco fan sites and organisations are forming an “orchestra of hate” against anyone who dares to offer any criticism, however justified, about their club.

I asked at the end if these people were “winning.”

That question is more pertinent than ever.

Does the Herald’s editor even have the first clue what he’s done here? What the significance of this decision actually is, beyond the impact it has on his own shitty circulation figures? Beyond even sport?

Does he even care?

This is a sad, dreadful, tragic day for “journalism” in this country, and I mourn it like a death because myself and others care deeply about this profession and the important role it plays in our world.

The Herald has pissed all over that.

They have betrayed one of their own, but the betrayal is felt by more than just Graham Spiers himself. It is felt by every one of us.

It makes “doing it right” more important than ever.

Today, “I Am Graham Spiers.”

We all are.

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The Roots Of Supremacy

WorldsWhen he remarked that football was nothing without the fan, big Jock was talking about the professional game of course, which needs the fan for funding. There will always be the men and women who wish to test their skills with a ball against others, for love of the sport, for the competition. At this level, the fan is not essential, although he/she is welcome.

Most people have a favourite professional team. Some have more than one. Until recent years, we believed the competition to be more or less honest, although we often had doubts. These were dismissed as paranoia by those in the know.

Scottish football is in the throes of massive trauma caused by the collision of integrity with commerce, brought about by the need for some to win at all costs, whether for monetary gain/survival, or the need for reflected glory to bask in, no matter how tainted that glory.

I believe that to achieve any reasonable kind of outcome we need to see the malady for what it is. In my opinion, the biggest problems for our game and society lie within the Ibrox support stemming from the “We Are the People mentality”. It’s also widely believed that this mindset is based in a feeling of superiority. Certainly supremacism rears its ugly head, but that’s not the same thing.  I’m sure historians, psychologists and rugby players will put me right.

A long time ago with friends who played rugby, I sometimes visited the bars of their clubs. Following a dose of lubrication of the vocal chords players and members would start to sing songs and recite verse you wouldn’t want your maiden auntie to hear. Even your brother in the Marines might have blushed.

When I hear the WATP cry go up it takes me back to those days, especially to the old chant about a fictitious pigmy tribe native to Borneo. Any rugby club regular will know the story. The pigmy tribe members often got lost in the high jungle grasses, the story goes. They would then call out to one another in panic, “Wherrafeckarwy, wherrafeckarwy?” Anthropologists who first discovered this people having followed the shouts for help, logically enough named them the Wherrafeckarwy.

The “We Are the People” shout sounds to me just like the plantiff cry of that fictional tribe. Supposedly a chant claiming supremacy, it is rather the sad, insistent plea of a crowd of people lost and trying to convince themselves and anybody listening that they do have an identity, though they’re not quite sure what it is. It’s a case not of “Wherrafeckarwy”, but of “Hoorafeckarwy”.

How did this almost innate sense of not belonging, having no cultural identity, come about, among so many of our friends, neighbours, relations and compatriots? The response of many Ibrox followers to this area of their collective subconscious is not surprising given their history since Roman times at least.

Ptolemy’s 150 AD map of Caledonia gives us a clue. The Romans didn’t venture north of Antonius’ wall, which was intended to keep the Picts out. Ptolemy identifies the tribes resident between the Antonine and Hadrian walls, from Clyde to Forth, and south to the border with England. The inhabitants then of that part of the country were the Votadini, Novantae, Selgovae and Damnonii who resided between Drumchapel and Dumbarton.

“Roman Scotland” online magazine describes them as the peoples of ancient Scotland, and points out that we do not have to imagine a “different” people, but those intrinsically the same as now, only living in a different period, under different conditions.

These peoples, threatened by the imperial presence, opposed the invader on occasion. They are also the tribes which at different times took the Emperor’s denarius in return for acting as the imperial eyes and ears, passing information to the occupying forces, and acting as local militia to keep their compatriots under the heel, doing the dirty work backed by local knowledge, which no invader can manage efficiently. Rome called them foederati. Local people called them by other names. All of the above tribes from time to time took the money, jobs, housing and security offered, in return for being the client army doing the security chores of the invasion force.

Interestingly this same DNA is still prevalent in the indigenous population according to “Roman Scotland” which quotes one expert contributor’s opinion that “these people are removed from ourselves only in time”. In other words, social conditioning has been continuous since AD 71 at least.

They have a history of working with the invader to keep their own people in subjection. Additionally, always having safe employment and all which that brings, induces a sense of security. All is well, maintain the status quo at any price. In such a mindset, education is an unnecessary encumbrance. Why bother when the milk and honey flow anyway? This mindset of course is encouraged and supported by the forces of the Emperor/Empress. What army of occupation wants a smart, thinking local militia?

Right up through the Jacobite uprisings, the Williamite wars, the Scottish Famines of the 17th 18th Centuries, the Plantations of Ireland, especially Ulster, (see Dr. Karen Cullen’s “Famine in Scotland; The Ill Years of the 1690s”) they stood behind whichever invader promised most, and for those hundreds of years prospered to a degree.

Those days are past now. The wind of change blew the empire out of Africa, the middle East, the Mediterranean. Most of Ireland is now independent. The Welsh have always been totally independent of spirit anyway, hence the strength of their own language and traditions. Scotland is about to decide its own destiny.

What’s left for the foederatus, the vassal, the militiaman, the special constable? Now redundant after hundreds of years of employment doing empire’s bidding what’s to be done when the occupier has moved out and gone back to his ain hoose? I believe this is the source of the problem. This is the cause of the mixed up identity, the confusion, the displays of superiority hiding deep-seated feelings of the opposite.

On that score, the experts say that the superiority complex in reality is an escape from an overwhelming sense of inferiority. It is one of the tricks that a person may use as a method of escape from those feelings of inferiority. False success compensates for this state of mind. The normal person does not have a superiority complex, they say, nor even a sense of superiority. It is normal to “have ambition to be successful; but so long as this striving is expressed in work it does not lead to false valuations, which are at the root of mental disease.”

{Ansbacher, Heinz L., and Ansbacher, Rowena R., ed. The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler – A Systematic Presentation in Selections from his Writings. New York: Basic Books Inc., 1956 (page 260).}

Symptoms of this inferiority inversion according to Adler include:
aggressive bombastic behaviour;
over reliance on reflected glory of association;
overbearing need to be best at everything;
need to denigrate other people and their achievements;
Inconsistent behaviour.

Where are these characteristics all on regular display?

The irony is, or as some call it the law of unintended consequences, that when we attempt total suppression of peoples we drive many out. We thus create a diaspora which recognizes the opportunities, financial and educational, available in the host country, and avails of them. This diaspora also becomes active politically and powerful, all the things quietly but firmly discouraged by the masters in the stately homes of empire, and denied to their supporting natives. The slow dawning realisation of this state of affairs is the root of the inferiority feeling. Add to this the dissolution of empire, and is it any wonder an identity crisis develops within loyal imperial servants?

We all need to take a closer look at our history. Scottish history was neglected in our schools, in favour of the British version. We were proud to be the second city of the British Empire. (apologies to non-Weegies, although maybe they too were proud to have one of their nation’s cities with that accolade). A wee bit of flattery now and again kept our minds off large-scale unemployment and other deprivations unknown closer to Westminster.

So those chanting, “We are the People”, are in reality pleading, “Who are we?” They are as “Roman Scotland” quotes, the descendants of the people who have been servants to the imperialistic invaders of this country over the best part of 2000 years. Nearly all of us at least in the Central Lowlands could have some of this DNA. But they cannot be responsible for the skeletons which keep falling out of the cupboards. There is no need for anybody to feel shame, embarrassment or inferiority for the actions of previous generations.

When this small fact is pondered and eventually accepted, feelings of inferiority, false superiority, will melt away, as will the outward signs – bombast, mob mentality, hubris, need to win everything always, lack of identity, keep minorities underfoot and so on.

We might then see a normal football environment in this country, in which all those lost individuals looking for an identity would support their local clubs. That would bring an end to supporters’ buses leaving towns around the country for Glasgow. The Jags could win the League!

At the very least, the matchday experience would be pleasant for one and all, banter and backchat would rule, instead of bile and venom.

We might also see a normal society in which tub-thumping, coat-trailing triumphalist marches would simply peter out as the silly, anachronistic exhibitionism they are. We would all be well placed to get along with everybody else, regardless of faith, colour, or other differences.

Haste the day. Luathraich an latha.

(Gerry Cassiday is a football fan and avid history buff! This is his first article for On Fields of Green.)

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As Bad As Each Other

images(Just for the record … the picture to the left was not taken at last nights game!)

One of the reasons the Old Firm tag is so hated, at least as far as Celtic fans are concerned, is that the use of it gives license to half-witted and unscrupulous hacks to paint both sets of fans as “as bad as each other.”

I have always refuted it, and I refute it now. It offends me, and it’s a warped version of reality that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Last night was the Glasgow Cup Final, and it was no more than half an hour old before my tolerance of the Sevco Rangers fans intolerance snapped. I posted on Facebook at half time how much I was enjoying the match (I was watching it on CelticTV), but that I had considered turning the volume off. I can only stomach hate directed at me and mine for so long before it wears me down.

Today the papers are full of the usual stories about the “sectarian hate on both sides”. There’s even a wee picture doing the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, of Celtic fans wearing masks and holding green flares, a picture which has appeared in a national newspaper where the inference is clearly that it was taken last night. They couldn’t have a found a more dramatic counterpoint to the photo of Sevco Rangers casuals being given a police escort to the game if they tried.

Except the photo of the Celtic fans was taken five years ago, in Hamburg. Am I saying the press lied? I am saying they’ve been caught – and not for the first time – letting their own bias run wild. They’ve been pinched, red handed as it were, trying to put their own gloss on things instead of simply presenting the facts. They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

The newspaper that printed this, along with a story blaming both sets of fans for the atmosphere at the game was, of course, The Sun, a paper with a long and proud history of sticking up for football fans … oh wait, no it hasn’t. It has a history of stitching up football fans … that’s the phrase I was looking for. Amongst supporters of many clubs, the paper that lied about Hillsborough has a reputation for “truth” somewhat akin to that of the Iraqi Ministry of Propaganda under Comical Ali.

Today’s reports on the match and the scenes inside the ground talk about fans breaking seats, indulging in sectarian chanting, taunting each other … I could go on. You get the point. I can only tell you that what I heard last night was sectarian bile to an almost numbing degree from one set of supporters, and I can only express my bafflement at why Celtic fans would break seats in their own stadium. Draw your own conclusions from that, as well as the Green Brigade statement that they, as a group, were not at the game, and contrast that with the pictures of large numbers of hooded Sevco Rangers casuals being escorted there by lines of police.

Do I need to spell it out more than that? I am sick of this crap.

Celtic supporters have few friends in the Scottish press, and we never really have. We’re not their natural target audience, for a start, and in recent years we’ve proved utterly immune to their propaganda and garbage. They take full advantage of that fact too, trying to show us in the worst possible light every time.

Take last year when a fire engulfed the bus depot where Sevco Rangers shiny new ride was being kept. Not only did The Sun print McCoist’s despicable – and never withdrawn or apologised for, by the way – dangerous and wholly false allegation that it was in some way related to our fans, but the story was capped by a picture of Celtic supporters at a friendly match in England.

The inference of that couldn’t have been clearer had they used a picture of a Celtic fan walking down the road carrying a can of gasoline.

This is a desperate newspaper, part of a desperate cadre of failing publications who’s “journalists” have been caught bending the truth, distorting reality, printing glorified press releases as news without doing the most basic fact checking and, on occasion, when it’s suited them and they’ve had nothing else to print, they’ve gone out and invented facts and printed outright lies. It’s little wonder they are viewed with contempt by almost every fan in the land.

But of course, this goes deeper than just a few dodgy pictures over dodgy headlines. This culture of tagging both sides the same way is just not on any longer. People need to understand, and I include some of those inside Celtic Park, those who might be misguided, stupid or who think they see marketing potential in the notion, that the vast, vast majority of our fans despise the Old Firm tag and want nothing to do with it. If such a thing ever existed – and I dispute that and I always have anyway – doesn’t it pretty much stand to reason that it died when Rangers did?

As far as I’m concerned it’s better off dead. To those who ask me if I miss Rangers, I can point to nights like last night, to the bile that poured out of thousands of mouths, and say, with all honesty, a resounding no. I’d love the chance to see our team dismantle the pretenders wearing the dead club’s jersey, and I think the continuing shambles that surrounds their boardroom is fascinating stuff, and worthy of the attention it gets, because it has implications beyond one club and even beyond football, but if our club never again took the field against a team using their name and their badge and playing out of Ibrox, I would not exactly mourn.

A section of their support is a stain on this country, and as long as the shell of a football club exists which considers them, and their “traditions”, worthy of embrace I will wish the whole club nothing but the worst of everything, because it is impossible for me to do otherwise. Those songs of hate last night were directed at me and mine, and as I don’t possess the ability to turn the other cheek like a latter day Jesus Christ I make no bones about hating them right back.

There’s only so much of it I can stomach, only so much of it that I can ignore. I want no association with these people or their “culture”, as warped as some of their versions of that are. These days, when I hear people say how much they “look forward to having them back in the league” I want to grill those folk mercilessly on the reasons why, even accepting the false premise of their statement in the first place. I want to know what merit they would bring.

If it’s just to provide us with “a football rival” I would dispute that, because they’re not and they won’t be for the foreseeable future. If it’s for comedy value, I’d suggest we get plenty of it already. If it’s because these people “miss the experience” then I’d suggest psychiatric assistance. The “experience” of having to listen to that – to people preaching racial and religious superiority over you – is absolutely horrendous. I would gladly never do so again as long as I live.

For too many years now their supporters have avoided the scrutiny they deserve because of a media that loves to put them together with us, as if we were one in the same. No more of it. Celtic fans want to stand totally separate. When we screw up – and I think we’ve let ourselves down on a few occasions these past few years – we stand alone and take the medicine. I think that, shorn of this nonsensical idea that we share some commonality with people who despise us, we’ll do just fine in terms of our reputation.

Being a Celtic fan has always been a source of pride for me. It’s something I can tell people with my head held high, and a smile on my face and I’ve never been even slightly embarrassed or worried about doing so. We are known, the world over, as a respectful, tolerant, diverse, multi-cultural, multi-religious, internationalist, socially aware and politically savvy group of people. The banners which greeted the team at the weekend, reminding Leigh Griffiths of his wider responsibilities as a Celtic player, were magnificent and made me proud, and I hope they have an impact on turning this young guy around, and I am sure they will. If not, then he has no future at the club.

Griffiths let himself down and he let Celtic down, and it will not be tolerated and the supporters at the weekend made it very clear. The people who were escorted to Celtic Park last night by the police, hooded, dressed in black, carrying firecrackers and who spent the entire 90 minutes indulging in a sectarian, racist hate-fest support a club who’s top goal scorer hails from a country they detest, who’s citizens they despise, who’s institutions they deplore and upon whom they poured every piece of degenerate filth they could spew out of their mouths.

They are a complete aberration, not just in our city or in our country but amongst the human race. Hate is their default position, and I refuse to pretend I don’t feel the same way about them. It devalues me, it devalues my argument, but I won’t hide behind lies any more than I would hide behind a convenient shield like anonymity on this blog or elsewhere, or attempt to drag others into my way of thinking using a useful slogan or tag.

Let the media paint this in whichever way they like. They will anyway. They are, in their penchant for distorting the facts and denying reality, every bit as bad as the hate filled trash who were breaking seats last night at an under 17’s game. They also revel in over-blown hyperbole; the enormous “trouble” they’ve splattered all over the front pages amounted to three arrests – one before, one during and one after the game. This, too, is simply a way of distracting from the real story though, the sectarian karaoke that emanated from the Sevco end for a full 90 minutes.

Using years old photographs to highlight a twisted narrative brings more clarity to their reporting than they would like though. If you can’t even trust the images that go with the story, how can you view the story itself objectively, or imagine the hacks writing it did? The whole report is skewed and the whole notion they’re trying to sell is a fabrication.

The media and that section of the Sevco Rangers support that refuses to join the rest of society in behaving in a reasonable and respectful fashion really are as bad as each other.

When I think of those people who last night filled my ears with bigotry I think of the moment in the film Michael Collins where Liam Neeson and Aiden Quinn are discussing what they have to do in their war against the British, and Neeson pontificates for a moment on hate.

“I do hate them,” he tells Quinn. “I hate them for making hate necessary.”

That about sums it up for me.

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