Guilty of telling the truth
Social media is a wonderful invention and I have been privileged to interact with a whole variety of excellent people in a manner that would have been impossible a mere 15 years ago. From Arran to Argentina, from the Shetlands to Shawlands I’ve shared some laughter and moans with many great people. It does the heart good in these challenging times to realise that most people are decent, charitable and actually care about what goes on in our society. Of course social media also allows a very small minority a platform to spout their nonsense but the ‘block’ facility soon sorts that and overall it has been an education and a lot of fun interacting with the wider Celtic family and many who don’t share my love of the Hoops but are nonetheless decent folk. Social media also provides a platform for discussing the main topics of the day from major political developments and world events to the ongoing discussions within Scottish football. Opinions can be strongly contested and the odd fall out may occur but the immediacy of the conversations demonstrates what people actually think about things.
This week I unadvisedly got involved in a conversation with a chap who follows the new club down Govan way on Twitter. As is their way they seek to deflect from the poison poured out by the worst element of their support over the past 100 years at Ibrox by throwing mud at others. That rather interesting modern re-interpretation of the word ‘Hun’ was raised by him as definitive proof that Celtic fans are sectarian. Of course I shot his paper thin argument to pieces by simply posting videos of Hearts, Aberdeen, Hibs and Motherwell fans chanting ‘Go home ya Huns’ to Rangers supporters and asked him to explain this. This was met by the usual silence as there is simply no way around the fact that most clubs in Scotland have supporters who refer to Rangers and their supporters as ‘the Huns.’ It is based on the wilder behaviour of elements of their supporters down the years and has no other connotation despite the feeble and unconvincing attempts to change the accepted meaning of a word in order to drag Celtic supporters into the same metaphorical gutter the worst of ‘Rapeepo’ inhabit. Another less cerebral follower of Sevco then interjected by stating that… ’Celtic fans only support the SNP cause they want to make Scotland a Republic, just like the IRA in Ireland.’ His assumption that I was an SNP voter and Republican seemed to be based on nothing more than the fact I was a Celtic fan and the ‘Yes’ logo on my Twitter avatar. His linking of Celtic and the IRA is another clue as to his world view. Needless to say we disagreed on just about everything and when the predictable abuse started the ‘block’ button was duly clicked. In truth we can learn something from everyone who crosses our path in life. That chap’s opinions were as valid as mine and we share the same country if not the same outlook. His parting shot involved the predictable ‘Fenian’ and ‘Paedo’ jibes but such words have lost their meaning when they are used to point score in debates or at football. It is lamentable that real victims of abuse may well be among groups which chant about such things at a football match and their erstwhile fellow fans are too thick to realise that.
Last night we saw another young man who has found that the very language we use in Scotland can be viewed as problematic. As John Guidetti warmed up in front of the Jock Stein stand he was greeted with sustained applause and from thousands of voices there rang out the very song which the SFA in their wisdom decided was worth a censure. As you know doubt know its lyrics are…
‘There’s only one John Guidetti
He puts the ball in the net(y)
He’s a super Swede
and the Huns are deid
Walking in a Guidetti wonderland.’
In serenading Guidetti with this song the fans were letting him know that he did nothing wrong and that the powers that be should get a life and look to sort out the real problems in Scottish football instead of acting like the thought police in some Orwellian police state. A few years back we saw Artur Boruc being roundly abused for blessing himself before kick-off and that said more about the petty minded and medieval mind-set of some in our society than it did about the big Pole. In one piece of video taken from the Copeland Road stand at Ibrox, Boruc is seen going through his usual pre-match prayer and blessing himself amid a cacophony of abuse, One voice is clearly head shouting, ‘Aye, we’ve got ye on video this time ya c*nt.’ How sad that the person who shouted that didn’t realise that all he was capturing on video was his own and others depressing prejudice.
As our society seeks to eradicate such behaviour it has taken a few wrong turns. You can’t pass laws against bigotry and expect that to end the problem. It needs to be educated out of people as it requires a change in attitude and thinking. That’s why the ‘Offensive Behaviour at Football Act’ is so flawed. It was created by well-meaning but essentially ill-informed middle class politicians who took advice from everyone but the fans themselves. Their politically correct attitude to the rough tongues of the average group of football fans has criminalised behaviour that is essentially harmless tribalism. It may have touched on the real issues of racism and sectarianism but in its absurd attempt to appear even handed has encouraged the vain attempts to reclassify words such as ‘Hun’ as sectarian when it clearly isn’t.
John Guidetti like Artur Boruc before him is learning about the unique football culture we have in Scotland. Like Artur Boruc he did nothing wrong. As the Green Brigade’s banner said, he was guilty of nothing more than telling the truth.