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Mark Twain, Napoleon and fatal newspaper mistakes

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“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”

Mark Twain had a knack for overstatement, but you wonder if there was ever a golden age of the newspapers, and if so, what it looked like.  In Scotland, it’s seldom looked like it has this week.

Some weeks ago, Graham Spiers, writing in The Herald, made reference to comments he claimed a Newco director made about the Billy Boys song.  Spiers didn’t name the director, but questioned the club’s board’s willingness to tackle offensive behaviour.

The Billy Boys were a Glasgow razor gang from the 1920s and 30s, named after their leader, Billy Fullerton.  Glasgow was one of the poorest cities in the industrial world, with high unemployment and mortality rates, squalid housing conditions and what we would now term disaffected young people who drifted into criminal gangs.  The Billy Boys were known as a Protestant gang (there were similar Catholic gangs) and started going along to watch Rangers, and singing their signature tune, in the 20s.

So far, so anthropologic.  The song, the gangs, the disaffected masses were a product of their time, but the song persisted through the decades, including the “up to our knees in Fenian blood” third line.  It was the mood music to employment practices at Ibrox from the 20s until 1989.

Scotland has changed enormously since then.  We are a genuinely plural society, not one scandalised by “mixed marriages”.  The vast majority of people don’t care who or what you are, boundaries have been pushed back, there is a fairly level playing field, no matter your creed or colour.  All of this change brought focus to the Billy Boys song, it’s not the mood music to modern Scotland, or to ANY Rangers fans I know.

I couldn’t care less about the song.  For me, it is a millstone around the neck of Newco, as it was of Oldco.  It drags them down to a place they can ill-afford to be.  It offends (not alone in football), has a criminal legacy (not alone in football), but it’s unique quality is that third line.  You can’t say that about any group of people anymore.

Spiers has put his neck on the block over sectarianism at Ibrox repeatedly over the years.  He wrote about his recent experience at Ibrox, expressed an opinion, and submitted his copy.

The club complained.  Football clubs complain lots about many things.  There’s a set answer newspapers give to these complaints: “It was an opinion piece”.  They never retract or apologise for “an opinion piece”.

I’m 100% certain The Herald’s first response to Newco was “it’s an opinion piece”.  This would normally have been the end of it, but on Wednesday The Herald issued an apology.

Spiers then became a blogger to explain “My opinion – as expressed in my column – was based on a truthful account of my meeting with a Rangers director.”

Who you believe is irrelevant for this topic.  The only relevance is that within a 24 hour period, The Herald and Evening Times group changed how they deal with criticisms of an opinion piece – and then used six degrees of separation to drag Celtic into a sectarian headline.

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“Ex-Celtic player in dock for sectarianism”, screamed the Evening Times, using the Celtic badge into the bargain.  A woman is on trial for allegedly making a sectarian comment on Facebook.  She once played for Celtic under-19s, never the senior ladies team.  She doesn’t play for Celtic Ladies under-19s (or any age group) anymore, and didn’t a year ago when she made this comment.  She never held an employed position at the club.

An amateur, juvenile, registered with the club who are a member of the Women’s Association.  Fill your boots, Evening Times.  The apology will do them no favours with any constituency, it will cost them more readers in each than sticking to their guns would have.  Reacting by grasping onto something so tenuous to drag Celtic into the murky waters was unconscionable.

They do not report in this manner elsewhere.  Headlines for court appearances never lead with the person’s club memberships, “Prestwick Golf Club member in driving ban”?   You’ll never read this.

One very good political journalist once told me “The football content pays my wages”.  That being the case, The Herald’s already difficult job to survive has been enormously undermined.  Spiers also explained “the pressure brought upon the newspaper became severe”.  They can ill-afford to lose advertising revenue streams, or readers.

Napoleon once said, “‘Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets”.  He’s been dead a long time, though.  Newspapers can now make themselves impotent in an afternoon.

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  1. glendalystonsils on

    BILLYBEAR on 29TH JANUARY 2016 12:47 PM

     

    Top Ten…..just like next year!!

     

     

    Aye, but 5th instead of tenth

  2. traditionalist88 on

    it’s not the mood music to modern Scotland, or to ANY Rangers fans I know.

     

    ===========

     

     

    Good article but unless you’re sitting beside them when its happeneing you can’t know this for sure. Its not a song many will admit to singing to one of the intended targets;)

     

     

    The bigotry at Ibrox was/is as prevalent in the corporate boxes as it was/is in the cheap seats.

     

     

    Theres been many a testimony to that effect down the years.

     

     

    I couldnt care less about the song either btw, more to be pitied – but the probability of NO Rangers fans you know indulging is almost non existent!

     

     

    Unless you only know less than a handful of them;)

     

     

    HH

  3. The Battered Bunnet on

    The whole Old Club-New Club continuity myth is being played out in the Court of Session in front of 3 Law Lords just now.

     

     

    Follow James Doleman and Grant Russell on Twitter for more.

  4. ‘Glasgow was one of the poorest cities in the industrial world’

     

     

    #####

     

     

    Not sure about that. There certainly was a lot of poverty, but there was a lot of wealth too. The problem, then as now, was how it was divided.

  5. Canamalar it looks like OCD obsession on

    Heterosexual marriages used to be the norm, now we are referring to them as mixed marriage aye society has changed right enough.

  6. LENNON N MC….MJALLBY on 29TH JANUARY 2016 12:55 PM

     

     

    A mythtery to me.

     

     

    =======

     

    Sounds like a Toyah Wilcox thong.

  7. !!BADA BING!! on 29TH JANUARY 2016 1:05 PM

     

    Andy wins on 5 sets

     

     

    Who is Andy and what did he win?

  8. Meanwhile in another court….

     

    Charles Green, confirms via his Counsel, “Rangers football club does not exist, it is an idea in people’s minds, a myth of continuity”

  9. KEVJUNGLE on 29th January 2016 9:32 am

     

     

     

    Mr Pastry on 28th January 2016 10:20 pm

     

     

     

     

    ___________________________________________

     

     

     

    Only Gerry McNee would reveal what the Celtic board were up to, that’s why they’ve led a charmed existence in his absence

     

     

    *the self proclaimed voice of football was once asked by a well known Celtic supporter if he supported Celtic. His response was “I used to”.

     

     

    How can you used to support Celtic.

  10. Paul, regarding the ex-Celtic footballer story, you sound surprised, but have these type of headlines not been going on for years? More drivel from the chip wrappers to perpetuate the one is as bad as the other myth.

     

     

    The Herald and their group should be ashamed of themselves for backing down in the way they did and pandering to these bigots, I will be watching what I click on in future.

     

     

    HH

     

    gsu

  11. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on

    There you lie

     

    in a lost and lonely part of town

     

    Held in time

     

    In a world of tears you slowly drown

     

    Going down

     

    You just can’t take it all alone

     

    We really should be folding you

     

    folding you

     

    folding you folding you

     

     

    Tragedy

     

    With the badges gone and you can’t go on

     

    It’s tragedy

     

    When John Brown cries and you don’t know why

     

    It’s hard to be a bear

     

    With no-one to love you you’re

     

    goin’ nowhere

     

    Tragedy

     

    When you lose control and you got no soul

     

    It’s tragedy

     

    When the cardihun cries and you don’t know why

     

    It’s hard to be a bear

     

    With no-one beside you you’re

     

    goin’ nowhere

     

    When the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on

     

     

    Night and day

     

    there’s a burning pile of evidence

     

    Burn away

     

    The shitey Tims just won’t let us be

     

    Down we go

     

    and we just can’t take it all alone

     

    We really should be folding you

     

    folding you

     

    folding you folding you

     

     

    Tragedy

     

    When the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on

     

    It’s tragedy

     

    When the pieman cries and you don’t know why

     

    It’s hard to be a bear

     

    With no-one to love you you’re

     

    goin’ nowhere

     

    Tragedy

     

    When you lose control and you got no soul

     

    It’s tragedy

     

    When the judges cries and you do no know why

     

    It’s hard to be a bear

     

    With no-one beside you you’re

     

    goin’ nowhere

     

     

    Tragedy…

     

     

    HeeBeeGeeBeesCSC

  12. Tontine Tim on 29th January 2016 1:08 pm

     

    How can you used to support Celtic.

     

    ………………………………………………………………

     

    Mo Juda..sorry, Johnson

  13. James Doleman ‏@jamesdoleman 30 mins30 minutes ago

     

    Counsel for Charles Green ends his submissions, Rangers Advocate will respond after lunch at 1.55

     

    ………………………………..

     

    WTF…Has Warbs left and (that) Wee Dick returned?

  14. Canamalar it looks like OCD obsession on

    Why are people so naive ?

     

    How long has the Herald been an establishment propaganda sheet ?

     

     

    The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783.[2] The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world[3] and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world.[4]

     

     

    It was justifying the autrocities of the empire and spinning lies for its entire history.

  15. Paul 67………..

     

     

    Good timely article, thanks.

     

    Can I refer you to a line in the article here………..

     

     

     

    “but questioned the club’s board’s willingness to tackle offensive behaviour.” – See more at: http://www.celticquicknews.co.uk/mark-twain-napoleon-and-fatal-newspaper-mistakes/#sthash.U25cDwna.dpuf

     

     

    Isn’t it that The Billy Boy’s is bigoted and sectarian and quite rightly should be dealt with under the law as it already stands?

     

    “Offensive”, and what it means is another issue open to subjective response. Shouldn’t we be clear to deal with these things appropriately? Certain media reporters seem happy to interchange the meaning of these two terms but perhaps we should try and be precise lest our lawmakers and lawmen continue to conflate both?

     

     

    Cheers!

     

     

    HH.

  16. Ernie-excuse the brevity,Andy Murray,who for me,is the Greatest Scottish Sportsman of all time,won the Australian Open semi final in 5 sets. He plays his nemesis Novak Djokovic,in Sunday’s final. But I suspect you knew that :)

  17. !!BADA BING!! on 29TH JANUARY 2016 1:31 PM

     

     

    So he’s a golfer then?

     

     

    Why didn’t you say so in the first place?

  18. A sure quick-fire way to loose yir job in 17th century scoddland.

     

     

    Write a truthful piece on the hun,or, even agree with a fellow journalist who writes the truth.

  19. Surely no one is expecting these court cases to go against Sevco . Won’t happen . And going by what’s went on before . Hmrc won’t win either . Imho .

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