In the wake of Dunfermline striker Dean Shiels facing a second wave of disgusting abuse while playing against Falkirk this season, many an individual within and on the periphery of Scottish football rallied around the former Hibs and Rangers striker calling for those responsible to be banned for life.
For some in the Scottish media it gave them a pedestal to rise above the masses and declare their outrage and disgust at the fans for their abuse of Shiels. A rare moment indeed.
However, one journalist took the decision to turn the abuse of Shiels, who lost the sight in his right eye when he was eight years old, into an attack on social media users and fans of clubs unrelated to the Shiels’ incident.
Neil Cameron, a journalist for the Herald, decided to highlight the ‘whataboutery’ between Celtic and Rangers fans on the back of the Shiels incident..
Simply highlighting an incident between two sides in a league that has no link to both of the Glasgow giants does not sell papers and so Cameron felt the need to get on his high horse to hit out at Celtic and Rangers fans — along with those on social media that he has taken umbrage with.
We all know that there is scum within our society — not just limited to Scottish football fans — but it seems that the likes of Cameron and some of his colleagues only pop their heads out of the trenches when an incident occurs at a provincial club to have their say — then turn it into an article about fans of the two biggest clubs in Scottish football.
Cameron hits out at those social media users and purveyors of whataboutery, yet his whole article was simply an outlet for him to attack fans on both sides of the Glasgow divide and an anonymous person on social media who labelled him a freemason.
If his article does not stink of whataboutery and a need to turn anything about Scottish football into a Celtic-Rangers issue then I don’t know what does. He couldn’t simply write a piece on the abuse that Shiels has faced twice now when playing Falkirk.
I guess writing about an incident between Dunfermline and Falkirk doesn’t receive enough hits on the Herald website or sell enough copies of a paper whose circulation dropped by 10% last year to only 28,900 average daily sales.
It is ironic that Cameron would highlight that fans of both Celtic and Rangers are ‘seemingly blind and deaf to some of the bile which comes from their own supporters’ — when many of the media continually ignore the same bile that Cameron highlights all too briefly.
Bile that Cameron himself continually ignores to possibly safeguard his access at both Ibrox and Celtic Park.
We have read about the vile song from Celtic fans last year when an element sang about the murdered soldier Lee Rigby, we also hear about the continued singing of IRA songs by Celtic fans, a song about Rangers kitman Jimmy Bell. Yet where are the articles on Rangers fans singing The Billy Boys, the Famine Song, using jibes about Child abuse to attack their city neighbours over [all the while ignoring their own vile involvement in such heinous crimes], the song about Tommy Burns or their singing about the Lisbon Lions dying.
In the wake of the derby at the end of December, not one journalist highlighted the sickening songs about the Lisbon Lions dying that were belted out throughout the match, nor the Billy Boys with the up to their knees in fenian blood add-on. They focused solely on the football and specifically how impressed they were with the Rangers performance and how Celtic looked a shell of the team from last season. They ignored the off field poison.Why is that?
Cameron is right in one regard — all of it is disgusting and it must stop — but the media have a responsibility also in the way they report such incidents or should I say the lack of reporting. They cannot pick and choose what to report on, because one story doesn’t sell enough copies over another or access to said club(s) is lost because of your reporting.
The media have a duty as well as a responsibility to their readers to give them all the facts rather than selective pieces published based on what meets their commercial needs and how much money it will make them through ad revenue or sales.
Social media has given voices to many individuals — including some who would never have been brave enough to peddle some of the bile they do in public — but in turn social media and the internet has given us some great additions to the coverage of the Scottish game and the likes of Cameron and some of his colleagues feel the pressure of this new generation of football writers — hence the reason why they feel the need to label them internet bampots regularly.
The biggest story in Scottish football history — the demise of Rangers — was covered in depth online and in real time by fans, bloggers and journalists — as well by print and broadcast media. But would we have seen half the information we have over the years if fans and bloggers had not ‘obsessed’ over the finer details of Rangers’ financial misconduct and their liquidation? Probably not.
Rather than picking and choosing when to point the finger Neil, maybe you should invest in a pedestal for your future articles on the abusive and hate filled bile that is fired out each week at a fair few Scottish grounds and not just by Celtic and Rangers fans.
Otherwise your article this week on Celtic and Rangers fans being ‘blind and deaf to some of the bile which comes from their own supporters’ is nothing more than hypocrisy.
Although I suspect you will come up with a good reason not to do so, maybe firing off abuse of your own at those who pull you up on your comments or simply block them for showing you up.