When did so-called sectarian songs become worse than mass violence?

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The 'sectarian' singing debate has been going on for some time now and more and more its cyclic predictability adds to my frustration over the whole affair. There’s been a couple of incidents highlighted recently regarding the behaviour of supporters. One of which seems to have gained enormous traction and made it on to the front pages of the Scottish tabloids.

This was, of course, Rangers fans singing songs at a friendly football tournament in the USA. The song in question has been turned into something of a bête noire over the past 15 years or so and something the media loves to portray as a crime worse than death. UEFA have been persuaded that it is bad and deemed it worthy of censor so, rightly or wrongly, in Europe at least there is a path to follow for that.

But what is the point of the outrage and is there anything legitimate underpinning any grievance?

In the setting of the Florida Cup it seemed no more than a jovial sing-along. I’m pretty sure no one was put out or intimidated by it. From the video I’ve seen it certainly wasn’t sung in a threatening or offensive manner. It wasn’t aimed at anyone in the vicinity and although a language barrier may or may not have existed the opposition needn’t have felt offended by it, simply because they had no reason to feel offended by it – no matter what some people desperately tell us it means.

Are we talking about the use of bad words? Or is it the choice of such words or where the words lead to? For example, if we stop people singing one word, what changes? Does the person or their beliefs or their attitude change? Does the Celtic fan tuning into a rival's friendly tournament at 2am to be feel offended feel any less offended than they do by the sight of Rangers fans enjoying themselves singing and their team playing some decent football? I’d suggest the answer is no.

Does the influence on people within that group change i.e. are we concerned that singing it reinforces something and can lead somewhere? My feeling is that an argument could be made for these songs providing a poor role model to younger fans and thus being an unwelcome/bad influence. But then bad influences aren’t always illegal. They aren’t unusual. And they certainly aren’t limited to bad words or football stadia. For me, this would put the singing of songs in a social responsibility bracket. A responsibility that could be discussed and any change led and ultimately self-policed if that requirement was identified. And besides, I can’t recall seeing this point or discussion being made anywhere in the media. Indeed the only point made was how terrible and sectarian the Rangers fans are.

Interestingly, or not, the guys pushing the narrative are most often Celtic fans. But not just Celtic fans, Celtic fans with a real and active dislike of Rangers. Treating one section of society differently than others, surely the definition of bigotry? The window to the soul that is social media has shown us that many of the commentators are compromised in this regard. Attacking Rangers seems to be a rite of passage for some from that culture. Which would explain why a full critique of the problem is not forthcoming and why solutions (even if required) are never offered. I suppose why bother when mud-sling headlines will suffice.

Which leads to the second incident. Video footage of a large mob of Celtic fans descending on a Rangers supporting pub in Glasgow city centre. No joviality here. No progressive, respectful, out-ward looking cultural enrichment here. This would surely be the archetypal example of where bad songs could ultimately take society and what we should strive to avoid. A seething, tribal mob. Real and threatening. Away from the policed and relative safety of a sporting arena's footprint. To my knowledge this one never made the papers or drew comment from publicly funded organisations. I won’t even waste time drawing comparisons between the gravity of the two incidents.

On a similar thread, these dafties were also no doubt belting out IRA songs. Which begs the question, where would those songs logically lead? What good is Scottish society extracting from those songs? And what makes them immune from questioning or more importantly immune from the tarnishing light of media exposure?

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