For The Media And All Non-Celtic Fans, Here’s a Little Thought Experiment …

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It’s amazing where inspiration comes from. I want to thank a guy called Colin Anderson, from Twitter, for asking the burning question at the core of this article. I owe you a beer mate.

Let me tell you about the film scene that I unpack in my brain as much as any other, because until it arrives the whole film is fascinating and brilliant and suspenseful and daring. But this scene goes so far beyond those things, and it is so jarring and so out of place, and so unusual that I’m still not sure where it takes me.

I’m not saying that it doesn’t work, I’m saying that it’s so out of left field that it’s like a slap in the face. It comes at the end of A Time To Kill, the fantastic courtroom movie based on John Grisham’s first novel, so if you haven’t yet you’ll definitely want to see it before you read another word, although discussing the climax of the case won’t come close to spoiling the film.

The crucial scene comes at the end of the trial of Carl Lee Hailey, played by the great Samuel L. Jackson, an ordinary mill worker who murdered two white men after they’d raped his pre-teen daughter. The case has not gone terribly well, and in order to successfully keep him out of the gas chamber, his lawyer, played by Matthew McConaghy, has to come up with something stunning. It is, in fact, Carl Lee himself who tells him how to secure his freedom.

He asks him one simple question; as a white man with all your privileges, seeing the world through those eyes, “What would it take for you to set me free?” And the lawyer, Jake Brigance, knows exactly what it would take and the following day he takes the jury through the events of the rape, having first asked them to close their eyes and picture the little girl. And then, at the end, when she’s been tossed away to die and is lying there, discarded like rubbish, he closes his statement with the words “Now, imagine she’s white …”

It gets me every time I watch it.

It’s so powerful, so unexpected, and it actually forces you to confront your own darkness. Would it make a difference to you? To me? Does it matter that much? But in that time and in that place and in that courtroom, in that community, with all the latent racism and angst that has been building there for years and which erupts in the course of the trial … yeah, all those people on that all-white jury have to go deep into the recesses of their own souls to find the humanity that they haven’t been able to muster through the whole proceeding.

This morning, I have to be honest, I feel a sense of that injustice and anger that both Jake Brigance and Carl Lee Hailey must have felt all the way through that court-case. I feel that anger at the shameful silence that has fallen over our media and the chattering classes over those deplorable comments by Ally McCoist which we all talked about yesterday.

And I’m moved to wonder; what does a man have to do to get some justice around here? What low does he have to stoop to, what emotional pressure point does he have to hit, what sentimentality does he have to appeal to, what heartstrings must he pull on, to what part of their nature must he direct his questions and seek his answers before he gets through the barriers they have up, before those he’s appealing to comprehend how screwed up the world they’re living in, and the way they see it, really is?

Well, here’s a little thought experiment for them.

Picture Ally McCoist for a minute. Picture this ex-footballer and former manager with a history of controversial remarks behind him. He’s unrepentant about his culture and his background, about who he is and where he’s from. He sneers at any suggestion that he should renounce these things in any way. He has defended things that leave people around him uneasy. Earlier this week, a Scottish government change in the law has made the expression of some highly toxic ideas criminal offences. And instead of applauding that, he’s said he’ll be breaking the law this coming weekend in unison with 48,000 other people, and he doesn’t seem to care who knows it.

Can you see him? That former footballer turned manager turned pundit, your colleague, your mate, declaring himself ready and willing to commit a criminal act by singing sectarian and racist songs calling for, amongst other things, the deaths of those of a different religion. You got him, in your head? You ready to condemn him yet?

You ready to express outrage and shock and horror? No?

Well, now imagine it’s Neil Lennon.

Did that get you there, you hypocrites and charlatans?

Because I know it would have, and so do you.

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  • Kevin Downs says:

    Fantastic piece you have written here James I love the movie and I love the way uv used it to get this point across and a very true point it is the suspense when I was reading it even tho I had an idea wot was cumin was great lol keep up the good work my freind HH

  • Robert Downey says:

    Very good James, I’ve known for years McCoist is not the cheeky chappie he portrays.
    He has declared himself and I would love to see an enterprising TV producer catch him at the game and film his every word and for the benefit of those hard of hearing put subtitles on the TV screen while he’s doing it.

  • John McGuigan says:

    The little deceiver McCoist, says now very conviently! may i add he will not be at the game he is going away with his kids. Why there has not been a public outcry about this cretins statement in the media and tv is f….g disgraceful he is a horrible little bigoted man who masquerades as the so called cheeky chappy this fucking country disgusts me with the barely disguised and often on display bigotry and the redtop rags and tv are all complicit please lets hump them metaphorically speaking come Sunday…. HailHail.

  • king murdy says:

    excellent james…..
    mcoist IS a sectarian rat….the cheeky chappie act might fool some…but not all…i remember being amazed in the early 90’s at celtic fans around the tunnel at parkhead asking for his autograph…fuk me !!!
    i have NO respect for the likes of john greig…walter smith…sandy jardine, davie cooper etc…all played for or managed a club with a sectarian signing policy….ONLY in “dead brilliant wee scotland”
    and as for neil lennon…well, he had red hair, irish, catholic background(i believe), played for and managed celtic fc….i mean, what did he expect..? how fukn dare he….!!

  • Joe Mullaney says:

    It worked for me.

  • Michael M says:

    Great article, James.

    Though do that many Sevvies read and respond on this page?

    Haven’t they anything else to do but be obsessed with Celtic and our bloggers?

    HaHa ..

    • James Forrest says:

      There are a couple of them who spew hatred mate but their comments never get on 🙂

      • Michael M says:

        Haha, total mugs!

        You should let them on every now and again for a laugh ?


  • Bert says:

    First class James that’s all you need to say??

  • Effarr says:

    What, even, if it had been a Celtic ball-boy far less Neil Lennon? Yesterday the talk was for the Celtic fans to follow the rule-of-thumb advice that FF seems to have advised regarding talking to a policeman. The only problem with that is that THEY can say things to a policeman that
    Celtic fans can`t, so that`s that advice out the window.

  • Matt says:

    This is an appalling piece of legislation. I think people should be able to say what they want. We know exactly who they are then. I’m not commenting on the article itself. This legislation is concerning, you will begin to see that soon, im sure.

    • James Forrest says:

      Good that you only read what you want to since I’ve said it’s been concerning RIGHT FROM THE START.

  • Charlie Dornan says:

    Great Article,James. Got to share this…????

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