Imagine someone who buys a dangerous breed of dog, who trains it to be aggressive towards strangers, who encourages it to fight other animals. Imagine them habitually starving it to increase its overall ferocity. That dog then attacks a child. The owner pleads innocence.
“Who can be held responsible for the actions of such a beast?”
Who would buy that?
Which is about the same number of people who should buy The Sun’s mealy-mouthed, wholly unconvincing “apology” over Kelvin McKenzie’s deranged column about Everton midfielder Ross Barkley.
There are words that adequately, and accurately, describe Kelvin McKenzie as a human being, but not one of those words would be appropriate for this website. His entire career has been a catalogue of bile, spewed forth like a burst sewer outflow pipe. The Sun gave him a column knowing exactly what they were getting for their dirty money. They’ve indulged his bigotry, his racism, his pig ignorance, for years beyond count.
Now he’s gone too far? For them?
The newspaper that still employs that other notorious goon and serial insulter Katie Hopkins?
Is there such a thing?
I give our media a hard time; they deserve it.
But the Scottish press is a whole level above the gutter trawled by the likes of the English editions of The Sun and The Daily Mail.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t buy either newspaper’s Scottish version with stolen money, but those versions would never have published such stomach churning fare.
There’s no doubt that some of the blame for this lies with those who buy the paper; scum like McKenzie couldn’t write what they do unless there was a willing audience willing to drink up this poison. There is a section of society which wallows in the kind of filth those papers write.
Yet even without taking into account this loathsome readership, the guilt stretches in many directions; with the paper itself, with its advertisers and with the institutions which still pretend that it has something legitimate to say.
One of the most culpable is the English Premier League itself, in the form of the clubs.
I have long argued that newspapers which habitually lie about our players and stir the soup should not be allowed at Celtic Park, but the press here is tame compared to the vicious beast that resides in London.
The Sun has habitually slandered football and football fans in England, most notably and notoriously with Hillsborough.
Liverpool banned any of its journalists from its press conferences this year; every club in the country ought to have followed suit.
What the paper did to those families went far beyond even the muckraking standards the paper had become notorious for. The whole of football should have spoken in one voice about how absolutely, and utterly, unacceptable that was. That this boil was never lanced at the time is startling; it certainly ought to be lanced now. Surely society is past the point of being in denial about what these newspaper actually are, and what they do?
The Daily Mail and The Sun are amongst the most vicious, right wing newspapers being published in Europe.
In their anti-Islam, anti-immigrant, illiberal editorial line, they have become the civilised world’s equivalent of Der Sturmer, the notorious Jew-baiting rag of the Third Reich. They have promoted hatred and division. They have sown and reaped racism and ignorance and they have scattered its seeds far and wide. They have employed two-bob scum whose vitriol would have made Julius Streicher himself wince.
Even as The Sun has suspended McKenzie – suspended, not sacked; he will be back, as sure as anything – they’ve made excuses for the piece, as if any word of it could be made palatable.
I mean, what does it matter whether McKenzie or the editors who allowed that piece knew Barkley was mixed race or not?
That such scandalous words were ever penned, far less published, that those other sectarian sentiments weren’t immediately regarded as stinking like a freshly squeezed turd instead of being deemed suitable for print, is outrageous.
There is no redeeming merit whatsoever in an article that describes a professional footballer – or any person – in terms such as McKenzie used, or which demean and malign an entire city in the fashion that he did. The whole column reeked.
And it’s clear from reviewing all of this that the problem might lie outside the newsroom itself, and away from the advertisers who still pump money into this decaying carcass, and from the political class which refuses to stand up in the face of the guns … it lies with us, I think, with all of us, the rest of our “civilised society” which is yet to draw a clear enough line, over which these gutter rags cannot cross. We’ve not done enough to stamp it out.
Let this, finally, be the point of no return.
Football fans across England – and in Scotland too – should be lobbying their clubs on this; ban these newspapers from our grounds as long as they continue to employ people like McKenzie and Hopkins, and which publish atrocities like the Barkley piece.
I don’t know why Everton, for instance, didn’t ban The Sun already; that’s long overdue. I trust they will now.
There has already been a backlash, an enormous one, inside football. Even our old friends Stan Collymore and Joey Barton have weighed in, and on this subject they couldn’t be more united or of one mind. There is unified disgust, a feeling that this a step beyond.
By apologising, and suspending the writer, the paper hopes to stem the tide.
But this one is a tsunami.
This time it should wash right through them, and sweep the whole damned lot into the shit-filled ditch below, where it and everyone connected with it belongs.
Just as I published this piece, Everton announced that the rag has been banned from all of its media events. Outstanding.