Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The hate that dare not speak its name

Interesting article from Graham Spiers on the Times website following the Old Firm match on Sunday. Spiersy is wrestling with a dilemma: Should he report the sectarian abuse he heard from a Rangers fan at Ibrox on Sunday?

He's in two minds:
"But journalists getting involved? It is one thing for someone in my position to report it and comment on it, but quite another to wade in and become an active participant."
And what would be achieved from making the complaint? Would the fan in question be charged? Banned from the stadium? Or would the complaint be greeted with a shrug of the shoulders from the authorities and the club?

It's a tricky one. To not complain is the default position because you can't see it serving any useful purpose. But not complaining when we hear things like that is to let the perpetrators go unchallenged, to let them think that they're idiocy is acceptable. Not complaining is to become complicit in the idea that sectarianism is just a part of Scottish life.

Spiers also notes that things have gone quiet in the battle against the bigots. The fighting talk of a couple of years ago has been replaced by a silence from Rangers and the Scottish Government appear to have dropped their initial fervour for tackling the problem.

But the grim reality remains. Whatever action they have taken in the past Rangers remain a football club with a problem. There are sections of their support who should be no more welcome in a football ground than they are in a society that looks on itself as a modern country.

Every club is supported by Neanderthals. What sets Rangers apart is their vitriolic attitude to religion. It's not all of their fans but it is enough to be noticeable.

This is a club desperate for a new owner, desperate to move into the glamour of the English Premier League. The fans have become an embarrassment yet Rangers seems to lack either the power or the will to silence them.

What can we do? I don't know. It is no longer acceptable to say simply "it's always been like this." Something does need to be done. The imbecile that Spiers heard was in his late teens or early twenties which suggests that the Rangers bigots are in no immediate danger of becoming extinct.

Perhaps we should all complain. Any time we hear the chanting on our TV's or at our home grounds we should complain. To the TV company, to the police, to the football clubs, to our local politicians.

Write to national newspapers detailing what you've heard and asking what Scotland is going to do to combat the problem. Stick videos on YouTube. Anything to get noticed.

All that might seem a bit hysterical. But remember the line that Rangers always trot out: Bigotry problem is caused by a vocal minority. Well, why don't we rise up as the vocal majority?

If ordinary, decent football supporters make a nuisance of themselves then people will start to take notice. Rangers can get away with doing nothing as long as the problem is given little coverage, the louder we shout the more desperate Rangers will become to stop their image becoming tarnished.

Politicians will fall into line because they'll be less worried about offending a few morons if they see they can take up the side of the majority.

Will any of this happen? No, probably not. Most of us are immune to the abuse now, we shrug our shoulders, maybe even laugh at these fossilised idiots. We shouldn't accept it but we do because it's always been like that. Sadly the price we pay for meek acceptance is allowing these people to continue to pollute our society.

So Graham, should journalists get involved? That's up to you but you can at least use your position to ensure that the curse of sectarianism is no longer ignored.