I was worried when I read that Phil MacGiollaBhain was set to contribute an article to CQN magazine and was going to quote Marcuse in setting out his argument. Assuming he meant the German Philosopher, from the Frankfurt School (TSD will love that), rather than the newly appointed manager of Stoke, I will have to think of ways to top that sort of clever-dickery. Now who tops Marcuse in left wing circles? Let’s go to the daddy of them all and begin with a couple of quotes from Marx:-
“ Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
“ Well, Art is Art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know. “
“A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.”
I have been on CQN for a few years now, beginning not long after Black Sunday, but I was not one of the original contributors. Nevertheless, I have noticed a lot of behaviours and outlooks, some specific to CQN, others which apply to all blogs and bloggers, and I thought I might attempt an A-Z Taxonomy of these common traits, most of which I have been guilty of at one point or another in the last 8 years of CQNing.
A- Attribution Theory
Mr. Brennan might expect his old warhorse, Amortisation to feature here. However, despite Paul’s best efforts, I am not sure that I yet understand the meaning of that term. It has something to do with assets reducing in value as soon as you have them. If this is true, the bottom should be dropping out of the collectables market and I would sell your Franklin Mint Celtic figurines if I were you.
No the more common feature of football commentary on CQN is attribution, where we try to explain our perceptions and argue our corner by referencing some explanation. This can take many forms, from Aesop’s fable of The Fox and The Grape, where the Fox declares that the wine was probably pish because the off license was shut, all the way to the original example of Cognitive Dissonance, when army privates were ordered to eat cockroaches by unpopular Officers and they resolved their dissonance by declaring that the cockroaches were delicious. A more recent example might be the Short lived worshipping by the Sevco hordes of Mr. Craig Whyte, as they assumed that , because he had saved them from the yolk of Lloyd’s Bank, he must be a good thing.
We see examples of attributions regularly on CQN. You can tell when a sentence starts with “It seems to me that…”, or “ Sources have told me that..”, or my own personal favourite, “I can tell from his body language that…”. All of these musings end up with the Attributor mistaking his speculation for an established fact. I have seen examples of:-
“Looks to me like Commons is carrying a stone or two over his fighting weight. We should sack our fitness team”
“I have heard that all the signings are masterminded by Peter Lawwell. We should sack Lenny because we don’t need him”
and “Hooper’s body language tells me that he does not want to be here. Get rid!”
In the attributors mind, the speculative initial thought becomes established as truth and actions must flow from this (non) established truth. Psychologists say that attributions arise from cognitive biases, in effect, we see what we want or expect to see. There is a Wiki article which lists almost 100 of these biases, including Bandwagon Effect, Gambler’s Fallacy and the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy. Celtic have added the Sierra Leone sharpshooter fallacy to that list.
There is a peculiarly Scottish and Scots-Irish identity to the bampotery to be found on CQN. There is a tendency to be negative, querulous and thrawn about defending your argument. Like a good pub fight, we will insult, threaten, exchange blows and then the survivors will kiss and make up, declaring their best friendship against all outsiders.
Until sobriety kicks in.
C- Cliche and The Big C
Two of the less attractive behaviours in blogging bampotery are the resort to cliche and the deliberate posturing of spreading The Big C, controvery used to create heat rather than light.
Whenever a Celtic manager and team contrives to drop a point or 3 to some perceived diddy pub team, whether that be Platinum Lace FC or Artmedia, who collected 6 points in a Champion’s League Group beating Porto in Portugal, the full collection of cliches will be leveled at the manager. He has no Plan B, his substitutions are bizarre, he only plays his favourites and he’s lost the dressing room. The same tired arguments are thrown at successful managers and non-league managers alike. A banal observation served up in a trite phrase by a lazy football pundit will be repeated on the blog as if it was the wisdom of the ages. The one that particularly pushes my buttons is “I have never seen a zone score a goal”.
The Big C is espoused by a couple of the Board regulars, Kojo and KevJungle, and Kojo goes as far as to espouse it as a necessity for generating blog traffic and avoiding boredom. I have never tried to scientifically measure that hypothesis but there is some evidence from the world of tabloids and phone-ins that the Adrian Durham/Hugh Keevins line of parroting inanities and promoting insanities does get people infuriated enough to write or phone in. However, on CQN, there does not seem to be a lack of naturally occurring spats, exchanges or debates, that suggest we need to manufacture them by going down the lazy tabloid line of adopting extreme positions to provoke reactions. In fact the blog was explicitly set up to combat such lazy approaches. On balance, I believe the use of The Big C has more to do with the need for attention from the protagonists than the needs of the blog to avoid boredom, a condition it rarely reaches except when such shtick is used. Though they undoubtedly provoke a small flurry of responses in the short term, in the longer term, they tend to drive posters away who are tired of the blog becoming tabloid and shock-jock in outlook.
The Internet attracts plenty of thrawn rebellious freethinkers so, no matter how commonsensical or uncontroversial your view, you will find some escapee from Monty Python’s Room 12 who will contradict, gainsay or ,even, agree violently and abusively with you. We have even had some assert that Rangers were a better run club than Celtic. Those fellas seem to have joined a Trappist Order somewhere recently.
E- Edward Ursus
I find EU to be a remarkable individual to find on a Celtic blog. He tests the very limits of our credulity by being a decent non-rancorous fan of the old Ibrox club. Much as it went against my instincts and expectations, I cannot recall EU’s mask ever slipping despite being dealt some fairly low and abusive blows and being called to account for every wrong his club ever committed. He has remained thick-skinned, level headed and, dare I say it, staunchly dignified. Wonder what colour of polish he uses on his brogues?
Again, Paul might be happier to see Finance under this alphabet section but I have been more entertained and enlightened by the various flouncing episodes, even my own, than the dryer debates about finance though I am grateful for the efforts of Paul, Barcabhoy and NeilR to enlighten me over the years. The one truth about flouncing is that it is usually the poster you don’t want to leave that will be the one who flounces off. Well, apart from me, maybe.
G- Get Togethers
Though Internet blogging offers you the security of anonymity, it also offers the chance for friendships to be formed, occasionally through shared hardships like marathon bike riding or golfing (sic), but, more usually, through the medium of mass piss up. CQN has made various attempts to form a Guinness Global Village and yet the world has not yet been put to right. Go Figure!
The CQN blog seemed to offend many by having more than its expected share of people who either supported the Celtic Board or were fairly indifferent towards them. The standard Celtic Supporter position seems to be to assume that we would have been going for our 20th CL title in a row were it not for the machinations of the non-Celtic-minded men who populate our boardroom and are wholly responsible for our failures (see A for Attribution)
I- Independence Debate
It has been going on for a while and, good news, we have another 15 months of this to look forward to. The percentages planning to vote Yes or No seem to have been surprisingly unaffected by the rhetoric and romanticism of the contributors but my bet is that we will be owned by the Chinese by September 2014, rendering all argument moot, but not mute, unfortunately.
As I dealt with our judgementalism tendencies under A, and, as it is not a new phenomenon (Bobby Lennox told me that a terracing judgementalist assured him that he had no future as a footballer), I prefer to go with J for Judiciary.
In its widest sense,we have seen Justice failing to be done throughout all of the recent Sevco debacle. From the football Authorities turning a blind eye to registration and commercial illegalities, via secret agreements, tax judgements which were more bland pronouncement than reasoned judgement, to partisan-funded independent enquiries that ignore their terms of remit and clear Rangers of charges which were never leveled, we have seen a bizarre period in Scottish history where many of us have lost what little faith we had in impartial administrative regulation.
I am reminded of a quote from the Dred Scottt case, one of the events in the lead up to the American Civil War, where the Supreme Court decision was judged to have been “essentially visceral in origin….a work of unmitigated partisanship, polemical in spirit with an extraordinary cumulation of error, inconsistency, and interpretation.” Well, we may have just surpassed that standard.
K- Keltic or Kilmarnock
A choice between the pronunciation habits of Brother Walfrid, as outlined in Willie Maley’s book, or the seminal moment in Neil Lennon’s Celtic management career, where we won back a league title amidst the sound of defeatism and surrender being sounded on CQN. Towels were volubly dropped as far apart as Airdrie and Las Vegas.
L- Live Match Reporting
Having been a regular match attendee, I have been spared the rigours of CQN matchday live reporting until recently. It is fascinating to see the predictability of the posting order. As soon as the team is announced, it will be denounced and doom will be foretold to provide Karma for Neil’s failings and reflected Kudos to the Cassandra(Ancient Greece rather than Only Fools and Horses) poster when he is proven correct.
As soon as the match starts, the poster’s favourite whipping bhoy will be denounced as overweight/having a mare/ or disinterested(sic). This usually precedes said fat, talentless mercenary opening the scoring for Celtic. The commentator’s curse, I think they call it.
Part 2 to follow…
WORDS: Setting Free the Bears