Today Keith Jackson wrote a truly mind-bending piece which managed to combine any number of ignorant observations and not a few dangerous ones.
If you were looking – actually trying – to write an article that combined victim blaming, denial of reality, deflection and some score settling in the same piece of work his is the article you’d have written.
It’s been a while since I took apart a Jackson piece section by section, but today he’s given me no choice.
It’s not for nothing that my rabid anti-Celtic “newspaper journalist” invention of late, and those bizarre stories he writes, do so under a name not terribly dissimilar to this guy’s own. Because nobody stretches credulity quite like him.
Let’s start with the headline; make no mistake, it put the agenda right out there front and centre.
Sometimes The Record produces misleading headlines … not in this case.
Coin attacks on Neil Lennon and Alfredo Morelos are a symptom of social media’s normalising of vile trolls – Keith Jackson
Right away he’s done exactly what I said yesterday that the media was trying to do; he’s put Lennon and Morelos on the same spectrum of hate, when nothing could be further from the truth. And in doing so, he’s rejected Lennon’s central claim about why he is targeted.
Oh yeah, and he’s blamed social media for the hate.
Which, by the way, means all of us.
If Neil Lennon is convinced he’s the victim of sectarianism or a target for anti Irish racists then who could possibly blame him?
Lennon is convinced that he is because he is.
And who could possibly blame him?
Is that a joke?
Jackson and his colleagues have been blaming him for the treatment he gets for years.
In fact, any number of Jackson’s colleagues are doing it again today.
The vile, bigoted thuggery and muck he’s been subjected to down the years in this country presents a fairly powerful, damning case.
Which but for the next paragraph Jackson then decides not only to ignore but to actually refute.
There can be no question at all that the Hibs boss has been singled out for all manner of religiously aggravated abuse and often the threats made against him have had a sinisterly paramilitary undertone, such as the wretched message daubed on a wall outside Tynecastle last week, demanding his execution.
A paramilitary undertone?
When someone writes the letters UVF or UDA beside a death threat there’s a little more than an undertone. When said death threat is scrawled on a wall in a hard-core part of East Belfast, with a crude drawing of a noose, we may assume that something more than just playful banter is going on.
So yes, it’s no wonder Lennon now absolutely believes he is being targeted solely for the details contained on his birth certificate.
And there we have the first peek inside Jackson’s head, at the two brain cells rattling off each other like peas in a tin cup.
Lennon’s understanding of the issues facing him is a lot more sophisticated than Jackson’s idiotic summation, fit only for those whose attention spans are the reason why Coronation Street runs for only half an hour, with a commercial break.
A lot of people share the details of what’s on Lennon’s birth certificate. Only a handful has ever played for Celtic and for Northern Ireland’s national team. And I know at least three – including Lennon – who’ve had similar threats against them.
But Lennon is different, as we all know. We’ll get to that.
But even so, he was a little too hasty to reach that conclusion the other night after a pound coin came tumbling out of the night sky towards him during the Edinburgh derby. And not least because he had no idea who actually launched it in his direction.
The first truly dangerous paragraph and the only time you’ll read a description of someone getting hit by a coin which uses the word “tumbling.”
It implies so many things, that word.
Reduced force. Badly aimed. Incapable of causing harm.
It is the exact opposite of deliberately targeted, with intent to wound.
It reduces what happened to Lennon to a minor prank. Jackson is not a complete idiot, he knows what the connotations of that word are. As to this assertion that Lennon has no idea who threw it … why is Jackson stating the obvious? You’ll see shortly.
On this occasion, for all Lennon could possibly have known at the time, his latest assailant may have been of any particular faith, or of none at all. And it would make not the slightest bit of difference to the despicable nature of his actions. Or hers for that matter.
For all Lennon knows it could have been the local parish priest throwing him a donation.
Or a wee lassie who wanted him to buy her a poke of chips.
Shame on them for throwing though. They should have handed the money to him.
Should we take a journalist who writes such sub-par nonsense seriously?
Yes, we better, because this is the kind of deflection that has stopped Scottish football facing up to what Lennon goes through.
When it comes to this stuff it helps to look at things in context; Lennon was subjected to 90 minutes of vicious, unrelenting, sectarian bile at a ground where he has already been physically attacked. The coin came out of a crowd that had rabidly abused him in a sectarian manner for the whole evening.
It does not take a Mastermind level intellect to work this out.
And Jackson knows this himself.
It would not matter if the guilty person was Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or Hindu. All that counts in this particular incident, is that the perpetrator was acting like a devout and dedicated moron. Just like the Hibs fan who threw a punch at Zdenek Zlamal – and the punter in Paisley on Saturday who fired a 50 pence piece towards Alfredo Morelos.
Of course it matters.
Jackson’s article goes to the heart of this issue, whether he likes it or not; it’s about motive and motivation.
He cannot put, as the central point of the piece, the idea that certain things have caused these incidents and then say that it does not matter what those contributing factors are. He is trying – trying hard – to remove any discussion of Lennon’s background and religion from this whole affair by saying that what happened to Lennon is the same as what happened to Zlamal and Morelos.
And that’s really the crux of the matter because to automatically label this latest attack on Lennon’s person as mindless sectarianism or the work of an anti Irish racist, is to miss the point completely.
No, actually, it isn’t to miss the point.
It is the point. It is entirely the point, which is why I have no problem calling this article a piece of deflection.
I argued yesterday that there are three separate strands to what’s gone on these last few months; a ned culture in the stands, the toxicity of the Victim and Survival lies bubbling over and the latent hatred of Neil Lennon, based primarily on sectarian prejudice.
They need to be tackled separately, in different ways, as they have different roots, otherwise we’re getting nowhere. People are not unaware of this. The key phrase, which Jackson appears not to acknowledge although he wrote it, is “latest attack on Lennon’s person.”
Because that’s what it was.
The latest attack.
As I said in the Lennon piece over the weekend, no other footballer anywhere in Europe is subjected to this kind of stuff.
If it was just as simple as that at least we might be better able to contain it. To departmentalise it, control it or even attempt to understand it. But Scottish football is currently in the grips of something far more wide-ranging and very possibly every bit as disturbing.
Because Jackson has not even attempted to understand it, or maybe he just doesn’t want to.
When it comes to Lennon – Lennon, taken in isolation – things are exactly that simple and until Lennon’s issue is confronted – in isolation – this is a revolving door we’re not getting out of.
Scottish football is in the grip of something “far more wide-ranging”, and I’ve acknowledged that, and I did so in yesterday’s article. And yes, something needs to be done about it. But it is a separate issue from Lennon entirely.
And so too is the attitude of the Sevco support, which is another running sore which people seem determined not to face up to.
This is something which can’t necessarily be traced back to the banks of the Boyne 300-odd years ago.
I wasn’t aware of anyone trying to.
But some of it can be traced back to Lennon signing for Celtic.
More of it – on the separate strand – can be traced to the events of 2012 and the attitudes of certain people, the media especially, in the aftermath.
On the contrary, it’s a modern day sickness which is spreading through stands up and down the land and is a great deal less discriminatory than that.
In terms of one of the three issues we’re facing here, all separate, all requiring a different set of questions, answers and solutions.
And, worst of all, almost all of us are in some way to blame for allowing this contagion to get so horribly out of hand. If you do not accept that you are in any way complicit then take a look at your nearest teenager, the next time they wander into the room, transfixed to the point of being all consumed by the device in their hands.
Let’s break that paragraph into two separate ones; in terms of the first half of it, I agree almost without reservation.
But this is the closest Jackson will come in this piece to anything even close to self-analysis, either of his own part in all of this or that of his profession.
It is the only mea cupla you are going to read, and it’s a half-hearted one at that, his way of saying “oh none of us has done enough, we all should have done more.”
He’s right. Some of us haven’t challenged, enough, stuff that has happened in our own house.
But there are degrees of culpability.
The failure to speak out is one of them.
Actually stirring the shit is a different ball game entirely, and in the case of Lennon the media has been busy with the spoon and in terms of promoting the Survival and Victim lies which are at the heart of one of our problems I blame them 100%.
The second half of the paragraph is even easier to respond to; if people using smartphones is such a social ill, then why don’t he and his bosses take the moral high-ground and boycott all of it? Yeah, let’s wait and see them depart the internet for the purity of the printed word.
We’ll hear the horns of the Rapture first.
And whilst we’re on the subject … as social media is such an evil thing, and as Jackson longs for the days, again, of high-minded debate, how come this was his tweet promoting the piece?
If social media is the swamp he seems to think, why the Hell is he so blatantly fishing in it?
I have one at home who wouldn’t know the house was on fire unless someone posted a picture of the flames on Snapchat. Social media has groomed our children like some worldwide cult and crucially it has routinely exposed them to levels of behaviour which would be considered abhorrent in any other walk of life.
Stick to writing about the football, Keith.
You’re not cut out for “big picture” thinking.
Before the internet came along, kids were exposed to all of that stuff in other ways. Video nasties. Locker room chatter from more “worldly” kids. TV has played a prominent role in it, and millions of parents still think the talking box is a de-facto babysitter.
Bullies still got off on tormenting people. They just did it face to face.
There’s nothing new under the sun.
The internet has also provided enlightenment, information at the touch of a button, all opinions and all ideas are now shared freely … it is exhilarating and it is brilliant, but yes it’s also dangerous. You don’t get one without the other. But you can find do-it-yourself hatred just as easily on a bookshelf, or the recipe for creating biological weapons … if you’re looking for it.
If you want to talk about social conditioning, let’s discuss parents who take their young kids out marching in Halloween garb, on public streets, every July, surrounded by hateful songs and the paraphernalia of centuries old warfare.
No? I thought not.
In this new world, it has become perfectly normal now for nameless trolls to vent their cretinous anger and hatred online and direct it at whoever they so chose. Twitter, for example, has become a virtual swamp where the like-minded form mobs and attempt to outdo one another with their mean-spirited malevolence. That they see no harm in any of this or display no signs of shame is an indication of how thoroughly warped these minds have become.
I agree, but my question to you is “So what?”
I never cease to be amazed at the number of people who complain about the swamp of social media when the companies responsible have gone out of their way to provide people with the tools to shut out as much of it as they want.
You don’t want to see far-right messages?
Twitter will only show you what those you follow post.
Facebook will only allow you to view what’s shared by your friends.
You can block or unfollow anyone you choose.
That’s how I stay sane.
And none of this is new either, or confined to the net.
The President of the United States was elected on the promotion of hate, and the media gave him ten times the platform that Twitter and Facebook did. He’s campaigning in the US mid-terms right now, and he’s made some of the most hateful speeches since Hitler was a beer-hall agitator. He just released one of the most racist party political ads since the era of George Wallace …. and you want to know how I know all of that?
Because the video footage was posted on MSNBC, CNN, Sky, the BBC and a host of other channels, and the text was posted verbatim on the websites and in the pages of The Atlantic, Salon, Slate, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Chicago Tribune, The New Statesman, The Guardian and a host of other mainstream media outlets which I follow and read regularly.
This is the world. Complain about it, or get busy with a shovel.
I have blisters on my hands from digging and millions of others do too.
And now it seems they’re so desensitised that they bring these same levels of behaviour with them, into the real world. That would certainly help to explain this recent trend of coin tossing which is being done without the slightest regard for the human beings on the other end – as if these missiles were no more harmful than a crudely-worded tweet.
A simple-minded analysis of what is a massively complex social problem, which Keith Jackson is not even remotely qualified to understand, far less write about.
A line is being crossed here and, with each incident, Scottish football is being shamed. And yet the tossers responsible appear entirely oblivious to the damage they’re doing, physically and reputationally. So much so, it’s becoming common practice.
Correct, but all this piety and all this concern has come very late in the day.
Sevco fans were throwing more than coins last season and nobody in the media cared.
When the pitch invasion at Hampden happened the media – Jackson personally – spread lies about what took place, and made out that the Sevco fans who invaded the pitch were engaged not in thuggery but in some kind of rescue mission.
Sectarian bile has been flowing out of the stands at Ibrox for generations and the media has been steadfastly silent.
There are problems at other clubs, most notably Hearts, but a senior journalist deflected from sectarian singing there by saying the problem is much worse on the West Coast.
The Scottish media’s sudden realisation that something bad is happening is either the worst example of waking up in the garden after you’ve burned down the house or it’s just nonsense, an attempt to cover their own backsides after the fact.
Because the media played a prominent role in getting us to the point we’re currently at.
They ignored serious incidents. They downplayed or played blame games over others. They spread disinformation. And they allowed themselves to be used by unscrupulous club chairmen whose venom, directed at the whole of the game and almost everyone in it, raised the levels of hate to hitherto unparalleled heights.
When linesman Calum Spence was struck and gashed by a coin from the Rangers support at Livingston this season it ought to have shocked goons of all colours to their senses. Instead it appears to have encouraged and maybe even emboldened them.
What “encouraged and emboldened” them was the near total silence from the Fourth Estate.
Had the media responded forcefully, at the time, to that and any number of other of incidents which those fans had already been involved in, instead of blaming phantom English fans or hoping the issue would go away, then maybe we wouldn’t be here.
Had they written so vehemently about the batteries and golf balls and an empty whiskey bottle that had been chucked at Celtic players and fans last season then maybe we wouldn’t be here.
Had they bothered to ask a single question about the fan who got on the pitch at Ibrox to attack Scott Brown then maybe we wouldn’t be here.
Had they confronted, years ago, the truth about Neil Lennon and the abuse he gets, then maybe we wouldn’t be here.
Had they not allowed sectarian singing to become a regular feature of our games again then maybe we wouldn’t be here.
They shirked their responsibilities and I can tell you that definitely encouraged and maybe even emboldened the kind of people we’re talking about.
The Lennon incident proved that. The missile aimed at Morelos further exacerbated the issue, especially given the reaction to what had gone on just a few days earlier.
Also in yesterday’s news, a player who had called the Aberdeen fans “the sheep” – on social media no less haha – decided to provoke those same fans, right in front of them, after scoring a goal against their team.
What’s the response of The Daily Record to that act of “provocation”?
Well, said guy masquerades as a journalist, just like the sports writers at that paper do, and so there’s no criticism at all.
Instead, a panel of the writers there want him back in the Scotland squad.
Hypocrites? Oh they are that alright, and so much more.
Which is precisely why Lennon was wrong, in this instance, to assume that he is the only victim in all of this and that it happened as a result of his heritage.
The coin was not the only thing Lennon was the victim of that night.
And that the media still will not acknowledge that is part of why it goes on and on and on.
Also, it might help matters if we can all be open and honest about every one of these odious, cowardly acts, confront them when possible and not view them through one eye in the name of club allegiances.
In other words, because one of the victims here was a Sevco player let’s leave any analysis of the behaviour of their supporters and the reasons for it out of this completely.
So not only are we not going to discuss Lennon’s issue properly, but we’re going to ignore the latent hatred that forever bubbles in a section of the Ibrox support entirely.
But in this game of Idiot’s Poker, Jackson is about to see us, and raise us. Because he’s about to do exactly what he says in that paragraph that we should not do … he’s going to isolate the Celtic fans and talk about us.
What a charlatan this man is.
For example it was heartening to hear almost 60,000 Celtic fans chanting Lennon’s name during the win over Hearts.
I bet when Jackson heard that “heartened” is not how he felt.
But when sections of that same crowd then sang about Craig Levein being a ‘sad orange b******’ they were sending out the ultimate in mixed messages. That they saw no issue with this selective approach to sectarianism underlines the problem that the game is facing in grounds all over the country.
Oh where even to start?
How about with the idea that Orangeism is an ideology and not a religion, just as Zionism is?
Orangeism is not a euphemism for Protestant any more than Zionism is for Jews.
Intelligent people can separate the two.
For all that, I hate the song and would not have sung it. And nor am I saying that everyone who sang that song is an intelligent person. No, ignorance runs riot in football supports of all colours and stripes. What I am telling you is that it is heart lazy and equally pig ignorant for Jackson to use an argument that is rooted in the utterly discredited, utterly without foundation, idea that the Celtic support is made up primarily of Catholics and that it exists on part of the “sectarianism spectrum.”
That song is not one I’d choose to sing.
It is a ridiculous song, wholly stupid.
But you will have one Hell of a time proving that the Celtic support has an underlying problem with sectarianism … because it’s not true.
How do you go about mending bad behaviour when the worst offenders appear to have no idea that their actions are so repugnant to others?
So Celtic fans are now amongst the “worst offenders” now?
That’s bias talking, I’m afraid, bias of the worst kind.
With all this in mind it’s welcome news the cops were starting to feel on a few collars over the weekend. If they can weed these morons out and give them some serious jail time then it will surely only help getting the penny to drop.
Agreed, the cops have not done nearly enough about this problem.
Jail time is something for the courts to decide, but I’ve yet to see anyone getting any for this kind of thing, probably because these are public order offences and we don’t stone people to death for them.
Scottish football has a lot going for it these days. It deserves a great deal better than to be so thoroughly shamed by those who would claim to love it.
I don’t know why it bothers Jackson so much.
The people who run it have shamed it for years.
The people who write about it shame it every single day, with articles just like this one.
Never miss an article on The CelticBlog again … download Celtic News Now, the best aggregator of Celtic stories on the internet, by clicking here. You’re supporting a great Celtic fan project and all of the various sites … and it’s free.
You can discuss this and and all the other stories by signing up at the Celtic Noise forum at the above link. This site is one of the three that has pushed for the forum and we urge all this blog’s readers to join it. Show your support for real change in Scottish football, by adding your voice to the debate.