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Hate Crime Legislation Has Arrived. Celtic Fans Should Be Wary. Others Should Be Afraid.

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Last week, I wrote a piece on the imminent dawning of hate crime legislation in Scotland. Today, on 1 April, it has come into being. I do not like this law. It is not just illiberal, it is, in fact, downright dangerous. I cannot understand the Scottish Parliament at times. It seems to think that this kind of guff is a substitute for improving life across this country.

This doesn’t improve anything. It allows a lot of curtain twitching liberals to feel like they have. But in fact, this is regressive and stupid.

This is exactly the kind of thing the right loves, because it provides them with a target to shoot at in the culture wars. It’s the kind of thing a lot on the left love because it assuages their consciences. I do not intend to give them any benefit of the doubt; rather than stand against this, Labour’s only gripe was that it didn’t add misogyny to the list of offences.

You know why Labour’s front bench supports this? Because with Starmer dragging them so far to the right they don’t have a policy prescription for solving any of the real issues which face Scotland and its voters. This makes them feel better about putting their names to his coming manifesto. It is contemptable. This is a nonsense of a law.

I said in my piece last week that I will not fear this law, but I will be wary of it. I don’t think I even need to be that vigilant, but I will be anyway, knowing it’s here. Mostly, I’ll watch to see what kind of ridiculous cases it conjures up and hope that some of it is daft enough to get it chucked in the bin, once it becomes obvious, even to Labour, how bad it really is.

The fact that the police have an obligation to investigate every single complaint is clearly preposterous. The politicians who proposed it and voted for it should all have to chip in and give them a hand doing so. As if Police Scotland doesn’t have enough to do, and especially when it has announced that it is deprioritising what it calls “low level crime”.

Celtic supporters in general do have to be wary of this law.

The average fan probably has more to worry about it than I do, and I’m a blogger. But it’s precisely because I’m a blogger, and know the terrain, and have essentially been working in this field for a decade and have had to think long and hard about libel, about incitement and about the limits of free speech that I feel pretty calm about this. I do have some grasp on where this law and my work might overlap, to my detriment. I’m careful because I’m used to it.

But if you post on social media, and especially on a forum, you need to be much more attuned to this than I do. You might be more inclined to stray into dangerous territory than me, and it’s something you are well advised to think long and hard about.

I moderate the comments on this site. I can only think of a handful of posts which might – just might – have crossed the line. I’ll continue to moderate them to make sure that nothing does. But that’s my biggest concern, that would be my biggest worry here.

Let me be honest though; I do hope this law eradicates certain things from our support permanently. I’ll give you an example; the On The One Road “soon there’ll be no Protestants at all” add-on, which is a disgraceful stain on us and which falls squarely within the aegis of this legislation and so it should. That’s an ethnic cleansing sentiment, it has never been anything else, and I would not cry for a single person who was hauled into court on account of it.

It is one of the few things I occasionally hear from our fans where I genuinely feel my blood boiling. How can those who sing that be so stupid, ignorant and bigoted? Get it gone. Get it gone for good, since those who chant it appear incapable of recognising what they are. For all that, I’m pretty confident that only a handful of our fans truly have to worry. There are people who should be much more concerned than the majority of us have to be.

Or rather, there are Peepul who should be much more concerned than us. That element of the Ibrox fan-base which hates, reflexively, which sings its sectarian bile, whose loathing of the country they live in, whose conspiracy theories taint the oxygen supply … if you’ve spent ten minutes on their forums you know there are people there who should be scared witless by this law because it’s going to completely change the way they interact with the world.

There is so much content on those forums which will not simply hit the tripwires of this legislation but will boldly rip through them and right into the minefield. The people running those forums know this full well; for them, this is the raw material of their nightmares. The thing is, they’ve had years to drain the swamp, and it’s been allowed to bubble away.

The music in their stands would change, radically, too if this law was to be applied in its full and proper manner. The songs their fans sing on a regular basis are amongst the most horrific permitted in any football stand right across Europe.

It is blatantly obvious that some of their songs and chants violate the new law so clearly that it shouldn’t even need pointing out. If you know that the law targets “incitement”, for instance, you know that it will be hard to argue that “we’re up to our knees in fenian blood, surrender or you’ll die” can be anything else. You could lock that stadium up and charge tens of thousands of them every single week … and if we’re to take this seriously they’ll need to.

All of us will have to be careful, of course, a little or a lot depending on the kind of stuff we’re involved in … but I think a lot of their fans are in serious peril as a result of this, and if I owned or ran one of their sites, I would be having sleepless night.

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  • Michael M says:

    Well, we have the immediate opportunity of seeing those tens of thousands locked up for incitement next Sunday under this grotesque new law.

    Think it’ll happen?

    Nah, me neither.

    They’ll continue to sing their chants of hatred unperturbed by any of their fellow brothers in the law ever bothering to charge even one of them far less 50,000 of them.

    Just like VAR and the OBFA before it it’ll be used against everyone BUT them as it appears that this exactly what all these new draconian ‘laws’ are designed for.

    Meanwhile the organised criminal gang running the show will be sniggering up their sleeves at the dumbed down masses daily.

    It’ll be interesting to see how many comments you’ll have to edit now, James, as pretty much every comment could be construed as being ‘offensive’ to somebody, most of whom work in or around Ibrox and its environs.

  • Michael M says:

    Let’s face it, how can they be done for bigotry when they’re only a ‘90 minute bigot’ once a week for a brief 10 months of the year?

  • Jim Duffy says:

    Does that mean James that ra peepul on orange walks get their collar felt, because aren’t those parades incitement to hate Catholics.

  • BhilltheTim says:

    “The music in their stands would change, radically, too IF this law was to be applied in its full and proper manner.”

    My emphasis, because that’s a very big ‘if’.

  • Magdalena’s Chestnut Gelding says:

    If I remember correctly when the OBFA became legal statute a whole song and dance was made about the police having a specialist online unit that would help eradicate some of the illegal filth that could be found online.

    Then………..nothing.

    I could walk into a police station and within a matter of seconds I could direct them to many football forums with posts breaking existing laws and statutes which should lead to prosecutions and the shutting of said forums.

    This new law will lead to the investigations and prosecution of normally decent enough individuals making a stupid mistake and paying a heavy price for it. For they are the minority and easy to target.

    Meanwhile the swamps will remain full and operational as law enforcement fear to tread where they should and will not do so without “evening things up”.

    The keycard scene in Trainspotting 2 pretty much sums it all up. How many of our boys in blue had to change their PIN codes?

    50,000 can indulge in their foul fetish and be praised for it and spoken in wonder by the broadcasters.

    To clarify and make abundantly clear I want many of the add ons some of the clown shoes in our support specialise in eradicated. North men south men as you mentioned and the defacing of The Fields of Athenry and The Willie Maley song. There is no need for it (note I’m not saying the add ons in the last two songs are illegal, there is just no damned reasonable excuse for ruining beautiful lyrical songs that already our enemies hate anyway!).

    Just watch the first couple of headline news convictions, daft laddie from Saltcoats and drunk businessman from Denny fall foul of new law! Meanwhile the masses will go untouched.

    Their behaviour already is illegal, yet civic Scotland does nothing and never will.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Well – I think The Scummy Scottish Football Media are Scummy… Because they are !!!

    And – I think The Union Jack is a Butchers Fuckin Apron… Because it fcukin well definitely is !!!

    I vote SNP big time – But they ain’t gonna fcukin silence me for sure !!!

    And if they dare try – I’ll see about starting a rival party called “Scottish Sinn Fein” !!!

    Fae Clachnacuddin and The Hoops – The Highland Rebel – !!!

  • Sophie Johnstone says:

    Their sites won’t care about this new law.The judiciary,press etc are riddled with sevconians and their minions will do absolutely nothing rewarding their songbook,just watch

  • Mrmagoo says:

    James.. I have discussed this sectarian and rascist bile coming from ibrox with friends from all over Scotland and we all agree that this new law will not be applied when sevco Scotland and thier rabid band of follow followers attend football matches . Neither will it be applied at their open air music festivals ( orange walks)

    If anyone (posters )on your site are judged by authorities to have breached the new law,

    Are you obliged to hand over their details ?

  • Roonsa says:

    Illiberal? It’s straight outta 1984. This is double plus bad. It seems to me that what can be deemed inciteful is open to interpretation. It’s 100% subjective on the part of the people who enforce this draconian law.

    I so want Scotland to be free from Westminster. But the only way to achieve that would to be vote for the SNP and I don’t think I can do that anymore.

    I am willing to listen to advice. Anyone?

    P.S. I mean insightful advice, not inciteful. Lolz.

    • SFATHENADIROFCHIFTINESS says:

      Hold your nose and vote SNP.
      After Independence you can vote for whoever you want.
      The SNP are the vehicle NOT the destination.

      • James Forrest says:

        Couldn’t agree more. If you want Scotland to have a real voice at Westminster come the election, are you REALLY going to vote for Starmer, the man who has betrayed every promise he ran on, and who has already ditched key planks of the manifesto he was talking about only a year ago? Anyone who trusts that man would be as well voting for Johnston again.

      • Shiltrum says:

        I agree, you do not have to vote SNP at every election . The trouble is who do you vote for because we do not seem to have any one who stands out at present.

    • Mrmagoo says:

      Roonsa..

      Please vote SNP, they are only a vehicle to get us to independence… once we have it , there will be no need for such a political entity such as SNP.

    • Michael McCartney says:

      I think there is a lot of us in this predicament but what I would say is that the SNP is probably the only road to independence and that in a Independent Scotland the undemocratic First Past The Post system of Westminster elections would be consigned to history, Most Scottish Governments would then be made up of coalitions that would reflect democratically the way Scotland voted. At the moment the electorate in Scotland are divided more or less equally on Independence v Unionist lines, hopefully this stalemate will be broken, hopefully with the Independence support increasing to at least 60%.
      This hate bill is dangerous as it is open to subjective decisions by the police and we all know where that leads. It has been passed by well meaning naive politicians who at the moment are prevalent in the SNP/Green parties.
      In my opinion the SNP needs new leadership but as a left of centre Independence supporter I will still be supporting the SNP as I believe they mostly adopt policies I agree with.

  • Bunter says:

    I’m looking forward to the first Scottish Orange March being banned and hundreds of sevconians being arrested and being taken to court for their anti Catholic repertoire at games – then I’ll believe they’re being serious.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Some of our fans had better tone their bile down, The sectarian add ons will have to stop or there will be arrests. Police Scotland are always pretty keen in making arrests at Celtic Park.
    At Ibrox they would need to have every cop in the country on duty and still they wouldn’t have enough to arrest those guilty of a hate crime.
    I agree with The Scottish Government on most of their policies, but this hate act is a step too far in suppressing free speech. Threatening Behaviour, Breach of the Peace, etc are already crimes, the police can’t cope with reported crime as it is, without adding Tom, Dick, Harry and Jane complaining about any insult that coms their way.

    • Bob (original) says:

      Aye, could be a bit like the ‘skewed’ penalty statistics?

      For every 1 sevco fan lifted for breaching this Bill,

      there could be at least 50 Tims lifted…?

      Police Scotland don’t have either the appetite or the resources to enforce, imo.

    • Shiltrum says:

      Yes there are already laws there which can deal with most of it? just use them . The problem is because they have not been used more, it becomes the norm and issues are deemed acceptable . That has to change to make a difference .

  • king murdy says:

    i see, the professional “nice guy” , everybody’s pal, mccoist…the same mccoist who was happy enough to sign on the dotted line for the club who, at the time, had an active sectarian signing policy, has condemned the bill….saying he and his fellow “bears” will be in the cross hairs…..
    i think you’ll be ok ally……..a good few of the cops have the same viewpoint as you and yer pals….

  • DixieD says:

    I naively thought that when UEFA closed a stand twice at their ground for the singing of the Billy Boys, that the SFA would have no choice but to take similar action if they continued to sing it in domestic fixtures. But it turned out that song is only racist abroad! Just wait for Police Scotland getting inundated with tit-for-tat calls this Sunday, and lets see what’s done about it.

  • Fun time frankie says:

    Sally Mc foist has just admitted in the dr what he and 48,000 will be committing a hate crime at the bigotdome on sunday,you can guarantee there. Will not be one arrest for hate crime on Sunday.

  • Bob (original) says:

    The bottom line is that whilst Police Scotland has been continuously

    reforecasting for the last couple of years – to try and cope with

    exponentially increasing costs – its budget is being significantly cut,

    to the point where Police officer numbers are being reduced for the first time

    and new intakes of recruits are being delayed.

    This Hate bill is unworkable, and will probably be quietly shelved in due course?

    However, in the meantime:

    “Speaking to talkSPORT, McCoist said:

    “We’ve got a hate bill by the way, a hate bill has been passed in the country.
    And I can guarantee you, next Sunday at Ibrox, I, along with 48,000 will be
    committing a breach of that hate bill…”

    Now, that is McCoist giving PS advance notice – publicly – of a potential crime

    he is planning to commit on Sunday.

    A high profile ‘collar’ might make people sit up and take this Bill seriously….?

    [And pigs might fly. (Pardon the pun.) ]

  • goodghuy says:

    No IRA or UVF music suits me just fine, singing about terrorist organizations is what puts Glasgow in the dark ages, when it comes to this type of stuff. I dream of the day when we just sing football songs, and they just sing football songs, like any other football club. You watch the epl, Arsenal sing Arsenal songs, West Ham sing West Ham songs, Liverpool sing Liverpool songs, up here is just an absolute disgrace it really is, dinosaur stuff when the glasgow derby is on.

    • The Messiah says:

      You’ll be waiting a long time for that day, I’m afraid. Too many of those that profess to be Celtic fans appear to think that Brother Walfrid was the founder of the IRA.

  • Effarr says:

    If I had a house full of bigots singing sectarian songs out through the open windows, I, as owner of the house, would be the first to be charged, so how can the owners of a public arena get off free? Maybe if their chairman got 6 months in prison for allowing/encouraging it, there would be some action taken. Even if the police can`t “charge them all”, then close the place for a few weeks and that would solve that problem at little cost.

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