11 March 2019

Let’s Bring In Strict Liability (For Politicians and the Media)

The latest round of stupid suggestions to stop idiots occasionally misbehaving at football matches have been shouted from the rooftops by the usual suspects following incidents involving James Tavernier and Jack Grealish over the weekend.

Given the reaction, you'd be forgiven for thinking that morons running onto the pitch to have a pop at players was a phenomenon that has never before been encountered in the history of football. Of course, we all remember multiple instances through the years – but in the current political climate, particularly in Scotland, it would appear that a few idiots on the pitch is a signal that the end of days is near.

The SNP government, ably backed by a number of hysterical journalists and media pundits, have been particularly vocal about introducing strict liability for football – where clubs would routinely receive draconian punishment for the actions of a single idiot, who may or may not be a supporter of that club. The entire idea is completely unworkable and would be immediately abused by the same idiots it seeks to discourage, not to mention by the media and those sitting in their Holyrood, ivory tower.

So here is a suggestion, if the politicians and media want strict liability then let them lead the way. Let them show us undesirable football supporters how to be better citizens.

Let's think about how this might work. Say a senior SNP politician had been engaged in illegal activity – maybe driving without insurance? What do we think would be a suitable punishment under political, strict liability? Not being allowed to take up a senior cabinet position for the duration of their tenure as an MSP? That seems reasonable. After all, a civilised society wouldn't have a guy who drove without insurance as their Justice Minister would they? That would be ridiculous.

How about a situation where a political party held a photo call in a pub adorned with terrorist memorabilia and with a collection tin for an organisation linked to terrorists on the bar? What should happen to that political party under strict liability? Should they be forced to contest the next election without any TV advertising?

What if an MSP was pictured posing with a terrorist flag? Or perhaps describing a proscribed terrorist organisation as "freedom fighters"? Maybe there should be rules in place to stop those people from sitting on Holyrood groups combatting sectarianism? Perhaps their party should be expelled from the Scottish Parliament? After all you can't really expect football supporters to stop signing naughty songs when their elected representative support violent, terrorist organisations. Of course this punishment wouldn't be very fair on the other MSPs from that party who had done nothing wrong but that's the thing about strict liability, we're told it would discourage the tiny proportion of morons. So definitely worth it.

How about the media? Perhaps having an online sports editor at your newspaper with a string of sectarian posts and offensive comments on his Facebook account should carry some sort of punishment? Maybe if he isn't removed from his position, then that newspaper should be banned from circulating its print edition for a few months? After all, it seems many in the media are quite happy to impose sanctions on the commercial operation of football clubs, so why should they be exempt? Some media organisations actually employ bigots, they don't just let them sit in their office to watch them work.

Maybe if you are a publicly funded organisation with a duty to be balanced and fair, then you should not employ an extremist bigot who describes innocent Rangers' supporting men, women and children as "the klan" and who is the spokesperson for a collection of pro-terrorist, Irish Republicans masquerading as an anti-sectarian group? If that publicly funded organisation was to ignore that person's background due to their own political and social agenda, and pretend instead that the person is a neutral commentator, then maybe it should lose public funding for any channel that the person appears on?

Why should football and football fans be held to higher standard than every other walk of Scottish public life? Why the focus on football's idiotic individuals, when bigots hold paid positions in politics and the media? The hypocrisy of the Scottish Government and a number of media outlets on this topic is stark. Until they are prepared to take responsibility for their own behaviour and for their own minority of undesirables, their hysterical virtue signalling should be roundly ignored.