Statement from Take a Liberty (Scotland) to Celtic and Rangers Supporters Trusts, Organisations, Fanzines, Bloggers and Supporters.
To register your support for the statement email firstname.lastname@example.org
The protest by the Green Brigade opposing the Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill at Celtic Park is to be supported. The opposition to the Bill, to police surveillance and to the over regulation and criminalisation of Celtic fans was brilliantly organised and had a significant impact at the Inverness game.
In the Green Brigade statement the point is made that the proposed legislation denies football fans the right to freedom of expression, something that is already a problem for many fans.
The Green Brigade rightly called on all Celtic fans to take a stand against the disproportionate policing of supporters at games. They are right to call for this, Celtic fans are already being arrested and charged for little more than singing songs and if the Offensive Behaviour Bill goes through the likelihood is that policing will become more intense.
Many Celtic fans, and especially the Green Brigade believe that their songs are political, not sectarian, and should not be targeted by the police, but that is not the point.
The point is that NO FAN SHOULD BE IMPRISONED FOR SINGING regardless of what the song is about.
Rangers and Celtic fans may dislike what each other represent and sing, they may even hate each others’ traditions but do they, and do the supporters associations think their ‘enemy’ supporters should be locked up for singing songs they find offensive?
If they do they should come out and say so.
If not they should recognise that they have a lot more in common than they might like to think – they both have an interest in supporting freedom of expression at football.
We should all demand tolerance.
Tolerance does not mean we are ‘non-judgemental’. It is all about judging. We should say what we think about one another, about what their fans and what our own fans are saying. That is what a free, tolerant society is all about. Genuine tolerance means we judge, say what we think, but also accept that others who we disagree with must also have that freedom without the threat of arrest.
I MAY HATE WHAT YOU SAY
BUT I WILL DEFEND TO THE DEATH
YOUR RIGHT TO SAY IT
If Rangers and Celtic supporters, bloggers and associations came out in support, not of their own right to sing what they like, but their opponents’ right to do so, the case against the Bill would be strengthened immeasurably.
There are two options open to Celtic and Rangers fans and associations, either tolerate one another (while hating each other if you so wish) and defeat this Bill and start to change the way football fans are being targeted and criminalised. Or remain in your shell, defend yourself and give two fingers to your ‘enemy’ and watch as the Bill is passed and football fans across Scotland are regulated and imprisoned even more than they already are.