Every now and again, someone in our media will say something where the unconscious bias seeps out.
They can’t help themselves.
Some of them expend so much energy in disliking our club or finding stuff to criticise it for that even when they are giving us praise they sometimes lapse into extraordinary collapses in their objectivity.
I am ever grateful, as regular readers are aware, for the way certain friends of mine in Celtic fan media continue to go that extra mile on behalf of the rest of us, and Paddy Sinat of Vital Celtic is one of those guys. He listens to all the radio shows. He pays attention to every word that is said on there, and he always catches those little moments of madness.
Yesterday he posted an article on a bizarre statement made by Craig Levein, from Sunday’s post-match comments on BBC Radio Scotland, prior the Celtic game.
He was talking about the strength of our squad and he got to talking about Maeda.
“I mean he’s just like if you ever play Scalectrix, it’s like having the pedal to the metal on Scalectrix. He just goes 100 miles an hour every time. And you think, ‘Wow, give us peace would you?’”
Paddy’s take on it was that it was a “weird wee way to compliment Maeda” and I agree.
He also pointed out that what Levein was engaged in was “a kind of envious and begrudging admission” and that’s even closer to the mark.
But I’ve turned that statement over and over in my head, and it was more than those things. It was one of those momentary lapses where someone in the press is so lost in their point that they forget themselves and say more than they intended.
Who exactly is the “us” in Levein’s comments?
Isn’t a strange way for a neutral to speak about a Celtic player and the way he plays?
Give who peace?
Because the only way I can read that is that he’s not speaking as a neutral at all, but someone who badly wants to see Celtic lose no matter who the opposition is. He talks like a guy being plagued by wasps, not as a commentator watching an outstanding football player who brings credit to this league.
The only “us” is anyone Maeda’s coming up against, and if you’re on the “us” side of that equation then you’re not being objective, are you? If your thought watching Maeda tear apart Livingston tomorrow is “give us peace” you’ve picked a side.
If your thought watching him terrorise the Ibrox club on their home soil and scoring a goal there was “give us peace” then you maybe ought not to be in the commentary box at all.
Paddy got to the heart of it; “an envious and grudging respect.”
But do you watch Manchester City with an “envious and grudging respect”? No.
When I watch Real Madrid I do it with a grudging respect, but that’s because I lean towards Barcelona … watching Benzema rip them to pieces in the El Classico last October, scoring twice, I may even have winced a little and uttered the words “for God’s same man, give us peace.”
But then, I don’t pretend to be objective in that scenario.
And to be honest, neither does Craig Levein.
He’s never liked us, and he couldn’t kid us on about that now.
I think he slipped up on Sunday, and some of that slipped out.