19 Dec 2013

How to combat sectarian bigotry in Scotland

It would have been inappropriate to comment here on the matter of David Limond whilst on assignment covering the appalling events in the Central African Republic recently.

So by way of tying up loose ends from the Channel 4 News investigation of intimidation of wider society by a small underclass of Rangers “fans”, let me just make the following observations.

David Limond is a criminal and a bigot. Indeed it is his bigotry that led him into criminality and at last he has faced and received justice at Ayr Sheriff Court.

He will face some more next year when he is sentenced and Sheriff Scott Pattison said at his two-day trial: “I view this as very serious and I am strongly considering a custodial sentence.”

He’s been convicted of sending a threatening communication aggravated by racial and religious prejudice likely to cause a reasonable person fear or alarm.

What strikes me as odd is that it took the intervention of Channel 4 News to shut down Limond and the vile sectarian and racial hatred he spewed out  between 9 and 10pm on the internet broadcast “Rangers Chat” – an online hateshow.

With the single exception of the victim nobody, but nobody in Scotland did anything about it.

Why didn’t anyone in Scotland bother?

Why didn’t anyone at Rangers bother?

Why didn’t the vast majority of decent Rangers fans bother?

What does this episode tell us about Scotland’s continued blindness to obvious criminal bigotry and racism that nobody, nobody, in that country saw fit to do a single thing to nail Limond – bar the victim herself – until we pitched up?

It so happened that the offensive broadcast of coincided with a Channel4 News investigation of a small minority of Rangers “supporters” who mounted campaigns of intimidation against lawyers, journalists, football club directors – frankly anyone who upset these peculiarly thin-skinned cowards.

We were contacted by the police and handed them a recording of one of Limond’s broadcasts in which he and other likeminded bigots poured obscene and threatening comments at one woman who had had the temerity to do her job and do it well.

Limond called this woman, who is now a successful journalist, a “Provo ****” and a “f***pig”.

His show featured a jingle with the words “Taig of the Day” and “Scum of the Day” (for those outwith the sectarian cauldron “taig” is an offensive word for an Irish Catholic).

Angela Haggerty’s “offence” of course, was to have edited Downfall – the highly successful book on the financial implosion of Rangers football club to which I wrote the foreword.

How dare she?

Whilst Limond set about shutting down his website as soon as we broadcast some of its content, she was already receiving a torrent of abusive and frightening comments on Twitter.

Several months later , at 7am the police came knocking at the door and Limond was arrested.

Limond’s defence, (seriously) was that calling his victim a “Provo ****”  and so forth, was funny, it was banter and lighthearted.  The Sheriff disagrees, so Rangers Chat no longer features Limond, his twitter line no longer exists and Limond is a convict.

The point of this little episode is that everyone and anyone of us has the means to stamp out this kind of thing for the good of Rangers, football and Scotland – say nothing of Glasgow busily buffing up its public image for the Commonwealth Games.

You can simply do what we did, if your concerned about online or offline criminality, record it and send it to the police. If you’ve concerns about the possible repercussions from the bigots, the police are well versed in dealing with anonymity issues.

All football clubs have their lowlife and their underclass – I understand Celtic’s have recently been out and about attacking stadium seats for instance.

Possibly Rangers’ has simply been more active in recent years on the intimidation front because the club imploded and they no doubt felt upset and so – being idiots – lashed out at the messengers instead of reading the message.

Whatever’s been going on and whatever the club or circumstance, the message is simple and clear: if you come across this criminality online, on fan sites, or on social media the law and the police are there for you.

You pay for their service – why not use it?

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