One of the stories of the week was of how the scummy Sevco fan from Tollcross who wandered through a city centre pub singing a sectarian song about Scott Sinclair escaped jail, and was instead sentenced to a community service order.
Not exactly “zero tolerance” is it?
I am quite a liberal guy when it comes to social issues, but on crime and punishment my heart bleeds less than the average Tory MP.
There are certain individuals who society is better off without on the streets. You won’t find me campaigning for the return of capital punishment or anything, but nor will you find me on the lines demonstrating because some scumbag in stir was denied a Sky Sports package for his widescreen TV.
The problem with jail is that we do not use it enough for those who deserve it, and of those who are inside too many shouldn’t be.
Jail for drug use?
Who cares if some people want to get high?
Some old guy shoplifts a can in Tesco because it’s either that or not pay the electric bill?
The head of the power company is the one who belongs in jail if people are forced into making that choice.
But for some low-life who’s been heading towards a cell his whole adult life, no there will be no aching sense of injustice if he feels his civil rights have been violated by having too hard a bed.
The guy in question here has been barred from the pub.
And he’ll have to clean some windows, or whatever it is they do on community service these days.
His life will be inconvenienced in a minor way, that’s all, much like that of the clown who made the monkey gestures at our player in full view of the TV cameras. He wasn’t sent down either.
You make a gesture like that, or sing a song like that, based on the colour of a man’s skin and you forfeit the right to the dignity of privacy as you take a piss. You forfeit the right to a comfortable sofa and a decent place to kip. You forfeit the right to be treated as a human being, and a little time spent peering through the bars, like an animal, is clearly in order.
It might be the short, sharp shock they need to get a grip.
As you might have gathered, I get a little animated over this stuff. There’s too much division in our society as it is, and at a time when it’s more important than ever that we all at least try to live together and get on better, it makes me sick to think that there are people out there who think this kind of stuff is okay, and it bothers me that there are people on the bench who don’t take it more seriously and punish it accordingly.
See I’m not, for one minute, suggesting that they do penance in years or anything. A week would have been enough. Just long enough that they miss the comforts of home. Just long enough to let them get a sampling of the feeling amongst the ethnic element inside the walls, many of whom are victims of a system that’s still way too prejudiced. As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of the US/UK TV show “Beyond Scared Straight.”
It would do them good. It would do us all good.
It makes you wonder who the judge was. Stewart Regan, perchance?
As I said in an earlier article today, once again UEFA are showing us how it’s done. Imagine those gestures had happened on their watch? Do you think months would have passed without the European governing body uttering a word about it? The statement condemning it would have been released that night. The discipline case would have been in progress by the following day. The sanctions would have come down within weeks.
The SFA are signatories to all those UEFA led campaigns like Kick It Out and Show Racism The Red Card. Here, in Scotland, in a high profile case involving the guy who went on to sweep the boards at all the player award ceremonies they didn’t show it the red card as much as they presented it the deaf ear. The three wise monkeys could all have worn SFA blazers. Their mind-set of “hear no evil, see no evil and speak no ill of Sevco” is alive and well.
The SFA doesn’t take racism any more seriously than it takes sectarianism.
We’ve lived with that particular problem for years, with the governing bodies perfectly happy to ignore it and clubs unwilling to make them take it seriously, but honestly, we all thought we’d left racism behind in our national sport a long time ago.
There is no appetite to take these issues on, and this is how ugly situations we thought we were removed from our grounds creep back in.
In deciding to ignore this issue the SFA has given license to racists to reclaim part of stands which had long ago banished them. And in refusing to sentence these people to at least a little jail time judges have done their bit to ensure the same.