In the aftermath of the game on Sunday, someone sent me the above picture.
It’s one of those moments that makes you catch your breath, in amazement and horror that a rational human being actually spent the time to make such an evil thing and bring it with him to a football match. Honestly, it makes your skin crawl to think too much about it.
I’m in favour of free speech though, and if the people holding that banner think that constitutes legitimate commentary then that’s their lookout. I’m also in favour of free choice, and if they’re not wearing masks and that picture can be enhanced and even blown up and they identified then it’s probably worth offering the same free choice to their employers and friends and family members to see how they feel about the sentiments being advertised.
My view is that such views have no place in civilised society; perhaps other disagree.
That’s for them.
Here’s the thing; what those guys did was against the law.
I don’t agree with that law, but then a lot of people don’t agree with paying tax. Try it for a while. See what happens. Others don’t agree that people under the age of 18 should be banned from drinking. Buy a bottle of Buckfast for one of your kids and let him take it to school. See what happens. Or better yet, neck it yourself and get behind the wheel. Good luck telling your arresting officer that you don’t agree with the drink driving laws. See what happens.
You see those guys in the yellow jackets in front of that loathsome banner?
Standing there, observing a blatant piece of criminal behaviour.
They might not agree with the law, they might even welcome the sentiments on display, who knows … but I’ve looked into this and it might surprise you to learn that not only are they offical representatives of the state but it’s actually their bloody job not only to uphold the law, but to enforce it.
Ridiculous concept, right?
It’ll never catch on, especially at the SFA.
One of the biggest issues in Scottish football, and one I’ve written about time and time and time again is the Offensive Behaviour At Football Act, the one that has sent so many young guys to stand in front of the beaks. Criminals have been made out of ordinary decent football fans who’s one particular “crime” was political expression in song. There’s even a department within the police which does nothing all day except scrutinise message boards and forums, reading websites like this, and working at the games themselves.
They are called FoCUS. They were at the game. They’ve doubtless being following events since.
The Act in question, the one that allows for FoCUS to exist, concerns itself with Offensive Behaviour. It’s in the sodding name. The law is so vague that it even allows for the conjuring up of “theoretical people” who “might” have been offended by a particular song or banner.
So I have a question for FoCUS, for their officers, for everyone, indeed, who supports this legislation.
Which part of the peadophile banner did you not find offensive?
Because I’ve heard that Celtic fan groups who wanted to commemorate dead fans at Hillsborough, and dead teenagers, weren’t allowed in the ground with those flags. Yet a group of obvious ghouls were allowed, in full view of serving officers in Police Scotland, to fly a flag so egregious and horrific that even a free speech advocate like myself wants to vomit looking at it.
Yes, I was offended. You don’t even need to conjure up the “theoretical person” in this case, because I’m on the record.
So do your jobs. Get out your digital enhancing equipment. Identify the location in the stand. Get the seat numbers from the SFA. Do your thing. Raid houses. Make arrests. Put in for the overtime. Sweat some suspects. Make some charges. Call me up as a witness if you like; I’ll stand in front of the judge and confirm that I was offended by what was on that flag. I’ll also say that I think it’s a travesty of a law and the people in the dock should walk … but that ain’t the point and I wouldn’t expect His Honour to listen.
Because otherwise, how can anyone take you people seriously?
How can anyone take this law seriously?
Cause if that’s not offensive … if that’s not what this law was set up for … well it’s a cold day in Hell to be sure.