Doing this for long enough, you get to see and hear a bit of everything. Much of it you wish you never had. I don’t know if Scottish football has always existed with this level of hate, bubbling away just below the surface, if it was always just outside the line of sight and the internet has brought it into focus or if recent years have grown it like some sort of weed; what I do know is that I am heartily, thoroughly, monumentally sick of it.
This weekend, three appalling examples of it; one racist having a go at Scott Sinclair, one degenerate wishing evil upon Jay Beatty and a scumbag hoping for the deaths of Leigh Griffiths’ children. I wish I didn’t know that any of the people responsible for this stuff existed.
I am aware of them through my running a blog and its attendant Facebook page; I generally stay away from these kind of debates on Twitter, where all these examples are from.
There was a time when I would have wanted to highlight these people, all the better to bring public shame and opprobrium to them, to make them wallow in notoriety, in the knowledge that it would thoroughly engulf and destroy their pitiful lives. I used to balance the equation in my head; what if these people have families of their own? Dependents? What if highlighting this stuff to the widest possible audience ruins their lives too?
And I would rationalise it by saying that this was something they should have considered before publishing such reprehensible statements online. That the collateral damage was something they ought to have thought through.
Whatever lets you sleep at night, James.
Something else nagged at me, something harder to shake. What if none of that bothered these people at all? Let’s face it, someone who goes online and posts death wishes about a kid is probably not happily married with a functional social life; that kind of person is a twisted individual who could not possibly fit in anywhere but the deepest part of the internet swamp. The act itself suggests a real disconnect with the rest of humanity.
What if you’re giving these people exactly what they want?
Either way, I am just tired of them. Tired of all of it.
These people steal oxygen just getting up in the morning; they don’t deserve one bit more of it. I understand the need some people have to share this stuff, to expose these people, to drag them into the spotlight they so clearly crave, but I won’t play a part it in any longer. I wish they didn’t exist. From now on I intend to act as if they don’t. When I encounter them on Twitter and Facebook I don’t engage in debate of any sort with them. I use the block buttons. This will be the last article they ever get.
The media will continue to highlight them. My fellow Celtic fans will continue to do the same. I can’t make other people see this as I do, all I can say is that I don’t know want to know. They can do whatever they feel they have to, but leave me out of it.
I do what I do on this site; I talk about football. I try to keep it semi-civilised even when Sevco is at its running worst. If I’m putting the boot in I try to do it with some humour. I actually have great sympathy for any football supporter who simply wants to follow their team and has to wade through a sewer in order to do it. There are stands across the country where, depending on the opposition, bile just flows endlessly.
Was it always like this?
The question haunts me, because if it wasn’t then I wonder if I’ve inadvertently played a part in making it this way.
I have highlighted the Survival and Victim Lies as particularly toxic because they have grown dangerous ideas, foremost amongst them the notion that Scottish football, and the country as a whole, did something horrible to the club that played out of Ibrox because of hatred. I believe that is an appalling distortion of the truth, and one that needs to be tackled wherever it arises. I despise our media because they are proponents of it.
I know there are sites out there which do peddle hate; the one at Vanguard Scum is one of them, and I make no bones about calling it that considering the stuff it publishes. There are other sites which occasionally write stuff that is borderline psychotic and I don’t know a single person who doesn’t roll their eyes when they read some of it.
The hate-mongers do not represent any club and they never have. They exist in their own warped world, where the colours they wear are mere camouflage. Yes, I believe that some of the clubs pander to them – Sevco most certainly has an unhealthy relationship with its scummy element – and become a totem pole for them to dance around, but these people would continue to hate, without rhyme or reason, even if the clubs didn’t exist.
What does wanting Leigh Griffiths’ kids to die have to do with football? A sick song about Jay or Billy McNeil not seeing ten in a row has a connection to football stuff, but I defy anyone to say it’s got any real connection to the sport. Racist abuse against Scott Sinclair is just racist abuse against someone famous. The person who did that could just as easily have been abusing any celebrity or sportsperson of colour. It’s warped.
I’ve looked into these people; most of them come from the deep end of far right ideology. One of them has a Twitter feed dripping with anti-immigrant bile. His belief system utilises football as just another avenue to funnel what’s in his sick mind.
I want nothing to do with any of them. They can hate as much as they want, and pour their sickness out wherever they want. All I ask is that no-one brings it to my attention. If I come across it myself I’ll do what I always do; block and ignore.
You have my thanks in advance friends.