Today many in the press and many of the Sevco online commentators are congratulating each other on yesterday’s result against Hibs.
I used my promotion code and half watched the game and didn’t find either side to be particularly impressive; indeed, if Celtic was even remotely competent on the day, as poor as we are right now, I’d expect us to beat either one of them with measured ease and room to spare.
I don’t want to talk about the game.
It’s not what some of them are talking about either.
I want to talk, as their official website did, as a couple of their players did and as some of the press have, about the “amazing atmosphere.”
Right there, friends and neighbours, is a sterling example of Scotland’s Shame.
First, let me do something unusual; I’m going to praise The Daily Record for being willing to discuss what I’m about to.
For once they’ve stuck their necks out.
Fair play to them, and to Graham Spiers and others, who put this front and centre before the full time whistle had even gone.
That’s all Scotland expects of you … that you remember what the job is.
Because yesterday was marred by the kind of gutter behaviour a section of the Sevco support simply can’t shake and which certain sections of our society – including some in the media – can’t bring itself to condemn.
Scotland’s Shame used to be a secretive kind of thing.
It wasn’t explicitly acknowledged by any official body, far less discussed openly.
That was before the SFA used it to defend Rangers in a sectarian singing case that was opened by UEFA.
They told the European governing body that it was a “cultural phenomenon” and one that was peculiar to Scotland.
They slandered this whole country, in effect, to explain the behaviour of a handful of Neanderthals and to spare their favourite club from embarrasment.
At around the same time, Gordon Smith was on national radio defending those songs to an incredulous panel on Radio Scotland.
He later became CEO of the SFA, of course.
The governing bodies curious defence made headlines.
It got the politicians interested. Jack McConnell called the first “sectarianism summit” but although it produced a lot of hot air and dragged the subject into the light there was no actual action taken … which might have prevented what came.
We all know what that was.
It was The Offensive Behaviour At Football Act, proposed in the aftermath of a single football match and the ugly scenes sparked by the indiscipline of the Rangers team and its manager, an event which haunts football in this country to this day, and for which Neil Lennon somehow got the lion’s share of the blame, including the only sporting sanction handed down by the SFA.
It was that remarkable, scandalous, corrupt decision that led the late Paul McBride QC to go on national television and brand our governing body “the laughing stock of world football”.
Of course, the repercussions went much deeper than just the victimisation of the Celtic manager, which certain sections of Scottish society seemed to take a nearly perverse pleasure in.
You only have to look at the two judicial decisions which involved him – the Not Proven verdict in his assault case and the decision to charge the men who sent him bombs with “conspiracy to commit assault” – to realise that.
As already noted, the so-called Old Firm Shame Game – which was, in point of fact, simply the Rangers Shame Game – resulted in the passing of a scandalous law which did nothing whatsoever to prevent the spectacle, yesterday, of huge numbers of people engaging in the kind of backwards, 16th century behaviour the law was supposed to prevent.
Those responsible for writing that law are frauds.
Those responsible for its application are gutless in that they don’t apply it evenly.
Picking on a bunch of kids in the street and threatening to “ruin lives” is one thing; wading into spectators at a game and arresting them by the dozen is, apparently, too much like hard work.
The law isn’t the issue here anyway, or it’s only a small part of it.
The issue here, the problem, is the way our society still tolerates these people, the way their football club refuses to engage with the issue and root them out, the way our media ignores it when it’s not eulogising the “atmosphere” itself.
I’m sick hearing about people being up to their knees in my blood. I am sick of hearing retrograde scum talking about they “hate Celtic” before throwing a sectarian term in for good measure. When do we say “enough of this” and deal with the problem?
I am opposed to restrictions on free speech.
I am opposed to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, and want to see it put in the bin.
It was an un-necessary law, because the statute books already contain legislation on hate speech, which is exactly what many of yesterday’s morons were engaged in.
Even those laws leave me disquieted, so I am not going to advocate that everyone in the stands be detained and questioned and some of them charged. The best way to deal with hate speech is not to pass laws against it; it’s to publicise it based on what it is.
The irony here is that some of the very same people who were belting out hate yesterday were, this time last week, trying to get a South Lanarkshire primary school teacher the sack for stuff she put up on Twitter.
If we applied similar logic to them we’d be sending video footage of all that sectarian singing to their bosses and trying to whip up the storm.
The media, which door-stopped her and harassed her family (and still is) have, by and large, not condemned yesterday’s display in any way, shape or form, of course.
It too is populated mainly by cowards, with no interest in confronting the issue and whose praise for the fans for creating “a sense of occasion” is lamentable and only compounds their shame.
But once again, a disgusting display of sectarian abuse that belongs at Ibrox has been allowed to stain a whole country, by the absolute refusal in some quarters to acknowledge that it happened at all.
The club itself couldn’t wait to put an article up that heaped praise on the fans, although many of them behaved disgracefully and that tells you everything you need to know about the people in charge over there.
They could have done this whole country a huge favour last night, but they chose, instead, to embrace and hold tight the worst elements in it.
I would normally never have chosen to end a year on such a horrible note, but I received an email in the aftermath of yesterday’s match from a Scottish football fan living in Shanghai, China, who wanted to know what we can do to end this scourge once and for all.
Most of all, he wanted to know how to explain to his daughter, who he thinks of as Scottish but who’s never set foot in this land, why these people sing about hating her.
I don’t know how we end this, but I do know the first step towards that goal is to confront the issue and acknowledge that it exists.
Much of our media doesn’t want to, but that’s not to say the rest of us can’t force the matter into the public domain, which is why I’m doing this.
As to the more general point about the haters … I told him simply that it’s all some people know how to do and that if it wasn’t us they were singing about it would be Jews or Muslims or some other “out” group, because that’s what puts the oxygen in their veins.
I told him to tell his girl that these people don’t represent Scotland or even their own club, because in the end, they use Ibrox, and the club itself, as a totem pole to dance around, but that’s only possible because the club itself has never, decisively, moved away from them.
Yet even it will, in time, because the vast, vast majority of Sevco fans are as sick of them as we are.
Because this isn’t about the whole Sevco support, of course, but a group of yahoos within it.
I believe that.
I believe they don’t represent Scotland.
But certain parts of this country still tolerate them and even encourage their hate.
It’s almost 2016 for God’s sakes.
This stuff has dragged our country down for too long.
When do we finally put an end to it?