Newsquest Goes From Sacking Journalists To Attacking Celtic Supporters

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Newsquest, fresh from the scandal of firing one of its journalists for supporting another who the organisation had neutered after pressure from Sevco, has today decided to turn its gun sights on Celtic supporters.

What are we? An easier target or something?

Today they’ve put up a story saying Police Scotland is investigating a series of messages that were put up on a Celtic fan site suggesting the IRA “sort out” the current team.

Even at first glance, you know this is a joke … and so is the paper’s interest in it.

What worries me is the nagging suspicion that this is a little payback from them, for the way our supporters universally gave our backing to Graham Spiers last week.

The piece in question – utter nonsense in every way – centres on a thread that appeared on the well-known Celtic fan site The Huddleboard. You cannot have existed, even on the margins, in Celtic cyberspace without knowing that the Huddleboard has its very own style; irreverent, satirical, biting and blackly humorous.

No-one with even the slightest knowledge about the site itself or those who post on it could have taken such a thread even remotely seriously; board members, in particular, know exactly what the site is about and its threads range from the daft to the bizarre to those which touch a kind of Mad Magazine genius.

The thread in question was none of those things, and I, personally, don’t find it funny, but only in the sense that as a joke it’s a pretty lame – and, by their standards even tame – one. But it was not, as the hysterical claims in the media suggest, any kind of threat.

The writer of this ludicrous piece is wholly aware of that, of course.

So, too, I suspect, are Police Scotland who really must have better things to do with their time than scour internet chatrooms for people cracking off-colour jokes.

Are there no actual crimes being committed this week or what?

Is this what we pay our taxes for, for Christ sake?

So they can piss about like this?

What’s more interesting to me is who the complaint to Police Scotland came from, the one that gave The Herald license to run this utter guff in the first place.

The Huddleboard is a closed shop.

Everyone on it has to register voluntarily, and those who are easily offended aren’t encouraged to hang about, beause the nature of the place is rough and tumble and deliberately provocative.

I find the idea that someone who went onto that site got so offended by what’s obviously an attempt at humour that they informed the police, and then the press, to be absolutely absurd.

I strongly suspect this is a put up job, something executed at this time to deliberately target Celtic fans, and I marvel at the “coincidence” that it didn’t originate in a tabloid, where you’d expect to find such an obvious piece of click-bait but at The Herald and The Evening Times.

I’ll tell you this; Celtic fans, already furious over The Herald’s scandalous behaviour last week, will be keeping an eye on Newsquest’s three Scottish publications – The Herald, The Evening Times and The National – from now on. I strongly suspect it’s not only Sevco directors who advertise in these papers, and if they want to get into a pissing match with our supporters that’s only going to end with one winner.

This absolute non-story is an embarrassment to journalism, and in case anyone at Newsquest hasn’t tippled yet, free speech extends to humour, however offensive some might find it.

It was cartoonists who were shot by Islamic fundamentalists in Paris, and Newsquest’s titles were fulsome in support for those who died, as were media outlets around the world.

Here, in Scotland, under the auspices of the Offensive Behaviour Act, you can get prosecuted for offending even phantom people – the mythic “a reasonable person who might be offended”, who doesn’t even have to exist, far less actually make a complaint.

In this case, someone did … and I suspect that person has a desk job that involves filing copy.

Celtic fans won’t issue threats and we won’t harass journalists, but we’ve learned a few tricks over the years, as Trinity Mirror can well attest, almost bringing The Daily Record to its knees with a sustained boycott campaign that’s lasted years.

The Evening Times is particularly vulnerable to concerted action, as it’s essentially a one city publication … and I already see a lot of empty copies on the shelves.

As its writers have the freedom to write what they like (and they should) we also have the freedom not to buy what it is they produce. We can also block their websites from ever appearing on our timelines or news aggregators. If this is the standard of “the news” they see fit to print, there’s little point in reading them anyway.

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