Four Big Questions for Our Country
2. You either believe that Celtic have a credible grounds based on evidence (rather than anecdote or quip) for claiming that referees in bygone days were deliberately biased against Celtic or that they were not.
3. You either believe that Celtic's grievances with referees are purely to do with their competence - or motivated by a wider belief that there are institutional or religiously bigoted reasons as to why decisions are given against Celtic.
4. You either believe that the forces of anti-Catholic bigotry are at play within the SFA or they are not.
Rangers supporters views on these key questions are, dare I say, of lesser influence than the views of key commentators in Scottish society, politics and the media. Rangers supporters, like me, are undoubtedly conditioned to answer that this is nothing but shyt stirring from Celtic and their cheerleaders. Mainly because it is - and if time permits this week I'd like to address the four points above.
But it's the same for Celtic and the majority of their fans - there is undoubtedly a real belief that there are 'forces' out there conspiring against them. Add to that the wholly humour retarded po-faced contribution of Peter Kearney* to the mix and people retreat into the trenches of them and us. There is nothing more potent in human nature than a siege mentality - a 'them v us' mentality. For 'them and us' read 'RC Celtic and everyone else'. And its a position that's very difficult to thaw - one only needs to look at the high and meandering walls through West Belfast to see the physical markers that siege, mistrust and anger can cause. A taxi driver told me that those walls would be there for at least 30 years after peace had 'broken out'. It seems that Scottish football's track record of 'Celtic and everyone else' mental division is outperforming this by nearly a hundred years.
Anyone thinking that Celtic and their cheerleaders are anything other than pumped high on righteous adrenaline is failing to understand how powerfully motivated they are. Reason alone is unlikely to sway them and that in itself is a great form of self insurance against humiliation, capitulation or apology. Indeed, pointing out their crushing hypocrisy will also not do the entire job. The only way to adequately deal with their machinations is to mock them, to cheapen their delusion and point out their inadequacies with the same ferocity they like to point out others.
But this is not Rangers FC fight to fight. Celtic have taken on the whole of Scottish football and its up to the whole of Scottish football and society to figure out how to cope with them. As Bagehot says in the Economist "In politics, it is the fate of the paranoid not to realise when they are winning". Some politicians like to get involved in Scottish football clubs. As a country we simply cannot afford them their ambition of being the "special handling" club of Scottish football. The alternatives are just too depressing to think about.
* Talking of Peter Kearney. Peter's contribution to the debate can be judged at this link - there is an extensive quote from Peter and a subsequent contribution from him showing his information source.
Kearney's contribution is, as with all people acting for a 'them' or an 'us', lop sided, out of proportion and most definitely unhelpful. There are no words of perspective, acknowledgement of the secondary abuse being two way and is barely sincere divisive finger pointing.
Kearney uses the published statistics to illustrate that Catholics are 6 times more likely to suffer sectarian abuse. He cites that there are 8 RC abuses per 100,000 of the population and 1.3 protestant abuses per 100,000 therefore RCs are 6 times more likely to suffer abuse. Yet two other things are apparent:
Firstly, using the very same statistics 3.76 sectarian acts are perpetrated by every 100,000 RCs yet only 2.77 sectarian acts are perpetrated for every 100,000 protestants. Using Mr Kearney's logic your average RC has a greater propensity to commit sectarian crime - 35% higher than an average protestant. And here's the thing, there is no 'protestant' counter-balance. No body, least of all the Church of Scotland, is in a position to ask for balance in the portrayal of protestants. There is no body, anywhere in Scotland, motivated to go publicly decree that an RC is 35% more likely to commit a sectarian act. Its not a debate - its a one way sanctimonious train of hassle, hysteria and hyperbole.
Secondly, while not wishing to cheapen the danger or unpleasantness of sectarian abuse one has to put the scale into perspective. Do the statistics cited by Mr Kearney match with this morning's headlines that hostility to Catholic's is 'deep, wide and vicious'? Its no wonder that the SNP, ever conscious of Scotland's image, do not want to over-emphasise a problem beyond its reality.
Finally in addressing 'day to day' bigotry Mr Kearney cites the example of an RC being barred from being Head of State or marrying the Head of State. Does anyone really believe that that law that affects so many people on a day to day basis being enforced. Instead it might be more realistic to ask Mr Kearney his view on how many protestants actually stand a chance of being head master/mistress at his children's school?
Yours in Confusion
Happy Scotsman, (with plenty of RC pals who are equally fed up with all this nonsense).