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Anorak | We’ll sing what we want to: Celtic, Rangers and all fans should unite to fight Scotland’s war on football

We’ll sing what we want to: Celtic, Rangers and all fans should unite to fight Scotland’s war on football

by | 20th, February 2015

The Sun reports that former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore will not be offering his pundity to BT Sport’s Glasgow Rangers match. He doesn’t like the songs the fans sing. At which point any self-respecting Rangers fan will sing them louder. And fans of other clubs – and that includes Glasgow Celtic – should support them.

Collymore says he was “taken off the show”. The Sun says BT says it was Collymore’s choice:

The outspoken commentator had demanded Rangers are pulled off the television if their fans continue to sing sectarian songs. After announcing the news on the internet, Collymore became locked in a fiery online exchange with some sports fans, many of whom brought up his violent past and domestic violence.

It had been triggered after Collymore backed a petition which said: “Boycott sponsors Sectarian chanting is illegal. Demeaning.”

It’s illegal to because Scotland has criminalised words. The Scottish government made a link between words and deeds. It made them the same thing.

As ever, football is the testing ground for new forms of crowd control. Sit down. Shut up. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Do as you’re told. Be silent for the full minute. Wait behind that line in the street until the police tell you to go. Take this train not that one. Don’t go to the town centre. Be tolerant. Do what the people on top tell you to. They know best. They know you as the working-class scum you are, race-rioters-in-wating and in need of a moral re-education.

Do civil liberties group gets angy at football fans being kettled and searched, their movements impeded on a sus? Do they decry bans on song that link to a culture? No. Because football fans are the lowest of the low.

Love the game. Hate the people who watch it.

And what the State first tests on these scummy knuckle-draggers it will be using on you, the morally right, next.

And the terrifying thing is that a journalist, which Stan Collymore is, is championing the laws that curtail free speech.

BT say:

“We did not agree with the nature of the debate on twitter, and which BT Sport was brought into without prior agreement. BT Sport will raise and discuss the issue within its programming when relevant and in an appropriate manner.”

Collymore tweeted:

“Just had a call from @btsportfootball. I’m taken off the show. Absolutely fine. Better to be right than bury my head. Enjoy! I can hold my head high and say i did the right thing to challenge hypocrisy amongst Rangers fans. BT show #RFC games, so inevitable.”

The entire campaign is this. It’s under the assumed name ‘John Smith’:

 

Stan Collymore Rangers

 

 The Herald adds:

[Collymore] went on an online tirade after more than 2,500 signed a petition calling for his sacking after he linked the club to racist groups such as the National Front and Combat 18.

The row began after he commented on a racist incident in Paris where a black man was pushed off a train by a group of what appeared to be Chelsea supporters travelling to the Parc des Princes stadium for Champions League match against Paris St Germain which ended in a 1-1 draw.

He tweeted: ” As I said a couple of weeks ago, Rangers and Chelsea, aka ‘The Blues Brothers’, made for each other. Quelle surprise.#NF #BNP #C18.”

A petition has since been signed by over 2,500 people calling for the BT Sport football analyst to be ditched.

It says: “Slurring Rangers and Chelsea like this as right-wing extremists is below the belt and unacceptable.”

It is.
Collymore added on twitter:

“Rangers fans, keep up the slurs. I’m exercising my British rights of speech within the law. That my Grandfather fought for.”

As are they.

“‘We’re up to our knees in Fenian blood’. Grand hypocrisy and not a ‘small minority’. Tell sponsors and TV. We can all play the petition game. Please sign my petition asking all sponsors and broadcasters to boycott #RFC games as ‘Up to our knees in Fenian Blood’ isn’t acceptable. Rangers fans fiercely support traditional British values of freedom of speech. Until it’s their hypocrisy exposed.”

Is it?

Celtic’s Green Brigade are not hooligans, Headhunters or ICF. But they are in breech of the Offensive Behaviour Act:

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 14th December 2011 and will be enacted on 1st March 2012. The Act criminalises behaviour which is threatening, hateful or otherwise offensive at a regulated football match including offensive singing or chanting. It also criminalises the communication of threats of serious violence and threats intended to incite religious hatred, whether sent through the post or posted on the internet. The Act will only criminalise behaviour likely to lead to public disorder which expresses or incites hatred, is threatening or is otherwise offensive to a reasonable person.

Offensive singing at the ground is banned. But whose offended? The Act then tells us:

The offence will NOT:

Stop peaceful preaching or proselytising.
Restrict freedom of speech including the right to criticise or comment on religion or non-religious beliefs, even in harsh terms.
Criminalise jokes and satire about religion or non-religious belief.

But it does restrict free speech. That is one of thing it does most definitely do.

The Green Brigade are being harassed, as they claim, for singing songs the rule makers don’t like. They are the wrong songs. If you sing any “wrong” song at a Scottish football ground you can be arrested. Given that the aim of songs is to either to a) rouse your team; b) do down the opposition, roughly half of all football songs could cause offence to the listener across the park.

But what if your club is rooted in politics?What if the songs are part of your identity, the link between the club and it’s supporters and area?

What if you’re not singing about the SNP and Flower of Scotland but are a Rangers of Celtic fan singing ‘The Boys of the Old Brigade’ or ‘Rule Britannia’? Whatb if you’re a Spurs fan rejoicing in being part of the “Yid Army”?

What if the history of the club is entwined with the fight against anti-Semitism or the Irish fight against British rule and militarism in Ireland? As Kevin Rooney notes:

The sod of turf that sits in the centre circle of Celtic Park was planted by Michael Davitt, himself a famous Irish Republican activist who fought against British rule in Ireland.

 

sands celtic

 

 

 

Celtic fans have been castigated for singing Republican songs in commemoration of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands – a man the fans consider to be a freedom fighter yet who is labelled a terrorist by the Scottish authorities. The banners aboves run into a message:

“The terrorist or the dreamer; the savage or the brave? Depends whose vote you’re trying to catch, or whose face you’re trying to save”

 

In response of orders for them to take it down, the Green Brigade said:

“Ultimately, due to the subjective nature of what anyone may deem offensive, it is both dangerous and absurd to create a law based upon offensiveness.”

Brilliant. And witty. You can stick your commitment to tolerance if it means banning free speech. Celtic’s fans will sing what they want to. And anyone who values free speech should join in.
Rooney adds:

For more than 80 years the poppy and football were separate. Now, when the football authorities decide to mix politics with football, those fans who object are vilified and banned. Anyone who cares about civil liberties and freedom of speech should be extremely alarmed by the attack on both by those running football in Scotland.

Real sectarianism is largely a thing of the past. Yet, the elite like to keep it alive. It serves a purpose. It means the elite can connect to the populace around a common ill.

Banning the bad words and songs will, they say, make peopls more civil and moral. But such draconian rules represent the very opposite. They represent intolerance. And to anyone who values free speech these laws also represent not the chance to nark on a fan or call for a ban; they represent an assault on freedom. And where the football fans goes first, the rest of society follows.

We’ll sing what we want to.



Posted: 20th, February 2015 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink