Five minutes after the game kicked off at Kilmarnock yesterday, I posted on my Facebook page about how we were “off and running again” because the first sectarian singing of the new campaign was already being lustily belted out by the Ibrox travelling support.
What followed during the game was scathingly described in a column by Bill Leckie, which I’ve read online in screengrabs.
Leckie is a clown, but even a broken clock is right twice a day and with this one he was absolutely spot-on.
Their behaviour – and this doesn’t even include the “celebrations” or what we now know happened outside – was disgraceful.
Some in the media want to find justifications for their shameful conduct.
The word “But …” features a lot, such as in the headline which framed The Record’s latest Hotline highlights; it reads “There’s no excuse for Rangers fans’ hooligan behaviour but they were treated like cattle …”
No excuses, then, except the one the paper tries to make on their behalf.
Kilmarnock’s issues with their turnstiles had exactly nothing to do with the sectarianism of the away support, nor of the scandalous scenes at the end of the game. Any effort to tie one to the other is dishonest. In addition are the allegations – now substantiated by video footage – that the Ibrox fans forced their way through a security gate prior to kick-off.
Once again, unsavoury incidents involving them are being palmed off as the fault of someone else.
This is a well-trodden path as we all know well.
It is ever thus with the press.
This is the old argument about them “being provoked” all over again, a litany that never ends and which offers mitigation. There is always a reason for their deplorable conduct, always something to lay the blame at someone else’s door.
There is, of course, a much simpler way to look at it and it’s this; there is a section of that support – a large section, a “small majority” as someone described it earlier – that trawls the gutter on a regular basis.
Frankly, the gutter is where those Peepul belong.
Large numbers of them are stone bigots, hate-filled and vicious to an astounding degree.
And it is everywhere, and growing. You only need to take a peek at their forums to see it spread.
The main ones are Follow Follow and RangersMedia, but there are others, and some even more hateful than those; they are both public and that at least keeps some of the hard-core crazies away. Nevertheless, conspiracy theories abound on both.
The spread of hate and paranoia, persecution myths and a preponderance of victim blaming, as well as outright sectarianism are common. There are certain threads where the tone is sometimes not far off openly calling for violence against individuals and organisations.
The irresponsibility of those who run those forums is incredible. I have long believed that one of them will provoke something ugly which will scar this game forevermore. It would not be the first time that such postings have made such a dramatic impact.
This morning, the web hosting company Cloudflare announced that it is banning, from their servers, the online forum known as 8chan, in response to the savage slaughter in El Paso this weekend, which is the third major massacre which has its roots on the site.
The company CEO wrote a blogpost last night which laid out the reasons for this action, an action that is very rare in the US.
“The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” wrote Matthew Prince. “Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.”
I have lamented the attitudes of moderators on both of the main Ibrox fan forums. They have consistently fallen below the standards of even basic humanity, such as when threads on the death of Billy McNeil degenerated into the worst kind of bile. The worst of it is, these aren’t – like 8chan – wide open spaces and unmoderated; there are teams of mods on both sites who have made no effort to eradicate threads which spew such abhorrent material.
I can only conclude that the moderators support the vile sentiments contained in them. There is no other reason for allowing these threads to grow.
For several years now, those forums have grown in stridency and have become support networks for segments of their fan-base which any other club would want removed from it entirely. When the black clad Union Bears organised their “smash a fenian” day those forums both promoted it and defended those involved in it. They have also provided succour to the most notorious elements in their online community, the Loyalist fringe at Vanguard Scum and elsewhere.
Vanguard Scum offered a case in point tonight when they blamed Kilmarnock for the incident with the disabled section by saying it’s their responsibility to make sure adequate precautions are in place in case a pack of thugs decides to dance on the roof of the thing and invade the pitch, giving no thought whatsoever to the safety of other spectators.
This is the mind-set we’re dealing with here; it’s as if the 17-year-old responsible for yesterday’s appalling incident at The Tate blamed the museum itself for not putting Plexiglas all around the viewing platform, to make what he did impossible.
We would rightly, all of us, condemn such a suggestion as disgraceful and that’s what Vanguard Scum’s pitiful reasoning amounts to.
Nobody who is aware of what this support has gotten up to over the last few years can honestly say they are surprised by yesterday’s events, or the faux justification for the neddish behaviour of their supporters which can be seen all across the internet.
They have a sense of entitlement which brooks no compromise.
They have a disregard for the rights of other people that blows your mind.
They have total contempt for rules, regulations and even laws.
Only robust action will prevent further incidents like this, and I see no appetite amongst our chattering class for putting a stop to this kind of behaviour.
Quite the opposite.
When the next incident happens, nobody should claim to be surprised.
This one was entirely predictable.
The next one is certain.