At the core of evil is the process of dehumanization by which certain other people or collectives of them, are depicted as less than human, as non comparable in humanity or personal dignity to those who do the labelling. Prejudice employs negative stereotypes in images or verbally abusive terms to demean and degrade the objects of its narrow view of superiority over these allegedly inferior persons. Discrimination involves the actions taken against those others based on the beliefs and emotions generated by prejudiced perspectives. (1)
Several years ago, more than I care to remember in fact, I posted an article on the Follow Follow website which sought to examine where we, the Rangers support, sat within what is known as Allport’s Scale of Prejudice. My reason for doing so was my increasing concern at what I saw as a concerted attempt to de-humanise our support and prejudicial behaviour towards our club.
Two recent articles published by The Rangers Standard, explored, not only such de-humanisation and prejudice, but also how it manifests itself.
Such claims from within our support have resulted in the usual accusations of “paranoia” and similar descriptions – designed to make our claims appear ridiculous and thus invalidate them. They are often dismissed with neither consideration nor evaluation, partly because they are made without a framework in which such evaluation can be made. What I will endeavour to do today is put them within the required framework utilising Allport’s Scale of Prejudice.
But this is in some ways the last leg of the journey. How we actually arrived at this point is also most worthy of examination, and in this respect I have yet to read a more conclusive summary of this journey than that offered by John DC Gow in his chapter The Perfect Storm from the book Follow We Will. Whilst it is obviously impossible to represent a whole chapter from a book into an article of this size the following excerpt is particularly helpful:-
If the club and the fans were immoral and unethical then why shouldn’t society hate them – isn’t that what ‘good’ people do? If you have some politicians, people in the media and anti-sectarian charities directly or indirectly laying the blame of sectarianism at the door of Ibrox, then why wouldn’t non-Rangers people want to hinder the bad guy or laugh as they fell? (2)
A further lethal ingredient to this already dangerous mix was apathy from within Ibrox to challenge this catalogue of lies and misrepresentation; it was an apathy which verged on the criminally negligent. It is often referred to as “Dignified Silence” though just what is dignified about a failure to challenge lies, imbalanced and biased reporting which caused considerable damage to the brand, escapes this writer.
Allport’s Scale of Prejudice was devised in 1954 by American psychologist Gordon Allport. In terms of demonstrating prejudice it is almost generic in nature and use. It can be applied to demonstrate human genocide such as the Holocaust yet at the same time it can be utilised to demonstrate prejudice within the work place. In view of the latter use, there is considerable latitude given to its various headings i.e. the final stage – Extermination applied within the work place environment would manifest itself by the victim leaving or being driven out of the work place. It is also not necessary for all the stages to be fulfilled to prove prejudicial behaviour.
The escalating scale of behaviour commences with:-
ANTILOCUTION – This would include jokes, negative stereotyping, hate speech and whilst often passed off by the perpetrators as “harmless” it often sets the stage for more forms of prejudice.
The Rangers support are no strangers to this stage. In a Scotland zealously pursuing a zero tolerance policy towards sectarianism the continued use of the word “Hun”as a descriptive term for Rangers supporters, suggested that such a zero tolerance policy was not universal. But even more insidious in recent times are the emergence of terms such as “white underclass” and “klan” The implications and attempted inferences and associations by use of these terms are clear. Perhaps more alarming however is that the use of such terms are not exclusive to the peddlers of hatred on the internet but have been used by some in the mainstream media – Alex Thomson Channel 4 News and Graham Spiers of the Glasgow Herald and BBC Scotland.
And the latter provides us with the perfect example of negative stereotyping:-
“Rancid chanting…..total embarrassment……putrid stench…..savages….poisonous singing…..desecration…..cavemen……wholesale yobishness…..vile troglodytes…..stinking, bigoted, religious stuff……backward culture…..almost to a man”.
Graham Spiers 06.11.2003
(It has been brought to the author’s attention that Graham Spiers has denied making such comment. He also denied on national television that he had ever used the word “cheating” when referring to Rangers use of EBT’s)
The next identified stage is:-
AVOIDANCE – People in one group are actively avoided by those in another. This would include social exclusion. Harm is done through isolation, again as preparation for more harmful acts.
There can be no better example of exclusion and isolation than the decision by SPL Chairmen (and of course a number of fans to whom the decision was deferred to) to refuse Rangers re-entry to the SPL. But of course Rangers were “cheats” – schools and hospitals were losing out because of Rangers – why shouldn’t “good people” shun them?
Despite the fact Rangers had not yet been tried nor convicted of the crime of “tax evasion on a scale of grand larceny” almost 17000 people signed that petition.
With both Antilocution and Avoidance apparent it is time to examine the third stage:-
DISCRIMINATION – Denial of opportunities and services which others enjoy and expect, with such denial intended to cause harm to the victim.
In Scotland a fundamental principle of our legal system, in fact its very foundation stone, is based upon the tenent that a party is innocent until proven guilty. That fundamental principle was completely usurped and cast aside when it came to dealing with Rangers. Guilty until proven innocent would more accurately reflect the manner in which the club was treated.
But it was far more than just mainstream journalists tweeting or writing columns suggesting Rangers were “cheats”, the conduct and behaviour of football authorities and some SPL Chairmen towards our club exemplified the lynch mob mentality towards Rangers.
The infamous 5 way agreement stands as an indictment on the Scottish Football Authorities. It represents conviction without trial, an attempt to punish a party by abandoning all the guiding principles of our legal system. Its existence, notwithstanding the draconian punishments contained therein, suggest little more than wholehearted submission to the aforementioned lynch mob mentality. I suspect in the fullness of time, the document itself and those responsible for it, will be subject to legal examination.
But that was not the end of it. An SFA judicial panel determining SFA charges of Rangers bringing the game into disrepute found Rangers, and Craig Whyte, guilty. Contained within the subsequent punishments was a 12 moth transfer embargo imposed on the club.
This prompted the following comments from Duff & Phelps Administrator Paul Clark :-
“It appears that, on one hand, the disciplinary panel accepted our argument that responsibility for bringing the club into disrepute lay with the actions of one individual — Craig Whyte — as is evident from the unprecedented punishment meted out to him.
During this hearing, the club produced compelling evidence from a number of sources that, following his takeover, Craig Whyte ran the club in a thoroughly unaccountable manner, rather than adhering to a proper form of corporate governance.
The thrust of the charges against the club focused on non-payment of payroll taxes and evidence was produced that all such decisions in this area were taken by Craig Whyte during his tenure.
Given this evidence, it is difficult to comprehend that the disciplinary panel has seen fit to effectively punish the club even more heavily than Mr Whyte.
A ban on signing players will seriously undermine the club’s efforts to rebuild after being rendered insolvent.
Furthermore, we do not know how bidders for the club will react to these sanctions and what effect they will have on their proposals. The club has asked for full written reasons for these decisions and intend to appeal.” (3)
Rangers did appeal against the transfer embargo and the hearing was subsequently heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh before Lord Glennie who ruled that such punishment was out with the remit of listed punishments available to the panel – in short it was unlawful.
This action and the subsequent reaction to it underline the depths of the discrimination being exercised towards Rangers. Despite the fact the Transfer Embargo was effectively deemed unlawful, the fact Rangers had the audacity and temerity to seek justice only served to re-enforce the prejudices against them.
Dundee United Chairmen Stephen Thomson speaking after Lord Glennie’s ruling commented :-
“I’d have my doubts whether they’d get sufficient votes to get back in,” said Thompson.
“There’s been a lack of remorse shown. Views have hardened.
“Taking things to a court of law hasn’t helped. That’s certainly hardened views of people within the game. (4)
Let us step out of the bubble for a moment. In what country anywhere in the world would a party contest a decision they consider unjust, a court determines it is in fact unjust, and the consequence of this is an increased determination to punish the victim further?
But the unlawful transfer embargo had a final sting in the tail. Despite the very public nature of Lord Glennie’s ruling, when it came to the question of Rangers being issued a licence to play football this was part of the negotiated settlement in return for such licence. It simply serves as an indication of how well established the prejudice against Rangers Football Club was – that the Football Authorities were comfortable imposing upon a club an embargo which had been ruled as unlawful by a Scottish Law Lord.
From Discrimination we move onto the next stage :-
ATTACK. Also known as “hate crimes” they can constitute physical attack, vandalism to property etc – in fact any action which is intended to cause harm to the victim. I would ask you to keep in mind that thought – intention to harm – as we work though this stage.
The recent attack on a Rangers supporter in Thailand, as well as the many acts of vandalism against Rangers related property provide examples of such attacks. But I would refer you to John Gow’s earlier comment “isn’t that what ‘good’ people do?” – these are not the actions of good people – they are mindless acts of a criminal nature committed by persons who we would describe as anything but good.
But attack does not need always to be in the form of the physical – the intention to harm is what I wish to concentrate on. Nor would I suggest that any of the following attacks on our club are by “good people” – the governing principle for me in this is the intention to harm.
Would anyone seriously suggest that the Rangers Tax Case Blog was anything other than an attack on our club? The intention to harm was evident from the false interpretation presented by the author’s of that blog. Yet it was a blog championed by many in the Scottish media, so much so it was the recipient of the Orwellian Award. Perhaps most telling was that form of evidence known as circumstantial and described as “conduct after the crime”. Following the result of the Rangers Tax Tribunal this award winning blog sought to delete all its files and traces of its existence.
One wonders if the current set of leaks, doing the rounds as it were, and referred to as the Charlotte Fakes will suffer a similar fate.
Even the Rangers Charity Foundation was considered fair game in the catalogue of attacks upon the club.
But in reminding ourselves of some of the attacks upon Rangers it would be remiss of me not to mention the BBC Scotland Documentary “The Men Who Sold The Jersey’s”,which I would class as an attack on our club due to the impartiality of the programme itself, as well as the extraordinary circumstances leading to its production.
(I have to be very careful here what I write as the circumstances surrounding the production of this documentary and the obtaining of materials used in its production are subject of a criminal investigation by Police Scotland)
What we know now, which we didn’t know at the time of its production, was that this documentary used evidence, apparently stolen from the Rangers Tax Case, as the basis for its accusations and revelations. This is not, and cannot, be classed as “whistleblowing” as not only were the events portrayed in the documentary already within the public domain they were also already subject to legal proceedings.
As Lord Nimmo Smith concluded in Section 98 of his subsequent report
 Meanwhile, BBC Scotland came, by unknown means, into possession of what they described as “dozens of secret emails, letters and documents”, which we understand were the productions before the Tax Tribunal. These formed the basis of a programme entitled “Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys”, which was broadcast on 23 May 2012. BBC Scotland also published copious material on its website. The published material included a table containing the names of Rangers players, coaches and staff who were beneficiaries of the MGMRT, and how much they received through that trust. It also listed the names of people where the BBC had seen evidence that they received side-letters. This event appears to have been the trigger for more activity in response to the SPL’s request.
In summary then we have a media organisation receiving and retaining stolen property, property in fact which forms part of the evidence in a high profile tax case, and using that stolen property as the basis for a documentary whose subsequent release proved to be “the trigger for more activity”.
And so to the final stage of Allport :-
“Zombies” and “Sevconians” is the language of the internet Rangers hater. Such use is intended to underline their belief that Rangers are dead and have been, for all intensive purposes, “exterminated”.
But such a school of thought is not confined to the internet, though both the language and tactics employed differ significantly. BBC Scotland and the aforementioned Graham Spiers have been the most visible and vocal proponents of such thought. The former angered Rangers supporters with its abject refusal to deviate from its description of Rangers as a “newco” while the latter devoted a column in the Glasgow Herald to explain why Rangers were in effect “a new club”.
BBC Scotland were eventually humiliated when the complaints they had rejected were upheld by the BBC Trust – though it is worthy of note that some of their employees, most notably Jim Spence, continue to peddle this notion. For those who read Spiers’ Herald article on the subject will have noticed a common trait between Spence and Spiers – an exclusion of authoritive rulings on the matter. Legal conclusions made by Lord Nimmo Smith are completely ignored, along with decisions by the European Clubs Association as well as the SFA themselves. Spiers’ “case” for Rangers being a new club is entirely based on verbal comments by Rangers related individuals, often made in emotionally charged circumstances.
Other than the different use of language, there is little to differentiate those in the mainstream media with the peddlers of hatred on the internet.
Lord Nimmo Smith who chaired the SPL Commission into Rangers use of EBT’s and alleged side contracts ruled as follows :
Rangers FC by “THE RT HON LORD NIMMO SMITH”
“It will be recalled that in Article 2 “Club” is defined in terms of “the undertaking of an association football club”, and in Rule I1 it is defined in terms of an association football club which is, for the time being, eligible to participate in the League, and includes the owner and operator of such Club. Taking these definitions together, the SPL and its members have provided, by contract, that a Club is an undertaking which is capable of being owned and operated. While it no doubt depends on individual circumstances what exactly is comprised in the undertaking of any particular Club, it would at the least comprise its name, the contracts with its players, its manager and other staff, and its ground, even though these may change from time to time. In common speech a Club is treated as a recognisable entity which is capable of being owned and operated, and which continues in existence despite its transfer to another owner and operator. In legal terms, it appears to us to be no different from any other undertaking which is capable of being carried on, bought and sold. This is not to say that a Club has legal personality, separate from and additional to the legal personality of its owner and operator. We are satisfied that it does not, and Mr McKenzie did not seek to argue otherwise.”
The European Clubs Association determined as follows :
Allow me to finish with a quote from Gordon Allport.
“People who are aware of, and ashamed of, their prejudices are well on the road to eliminating them”
Scotland would appear to have a long, long journey ahead of it.
- The Lucifer Effect – Philip Zimbardo
- Follow We Will. The Fall and Rise of Rangers