Friday, 24 July 2009

Scotsman exclusive: Colours are sectarian

You can tell the ‘silly season’ is almost upon us, because the Scotsman is reporting fascinating news that some kerb stones in Larkhall were painted red, white and blue. The paper informs us that this horror was perpetrated by a ‘sectarian girl gang’. Now I have no doubt that their actions comprise a wanton piece of vandalism and all the details in the piece suggest that some underlying sectarianism might motivate the youths in question, but the paper simply hasn’t mentioned circumstances that justify using the word in the article.

We are told that this “is the latest example of sectarian behaviour in the Lanarkshire town known for its over-enthusiastic support of Rangers Football Club and the Queen”. Now I loathe both members of the ‘Old Firm’, I’m a bit of a sceptic as regards our Royal family and I deplore illegal graffiti, so I’m not going to defend the town or its inhabitants on any of the above counts. But are the above components really defining indicators, or corroborating evidence, of sectarianism?

Red, white and blue are three colours, widely displayed, both separately and collectively. They shouldn’t be daubed on public property, but if they are offensive to the beholder, that is his subjective aesthetic judgment. Rangers are one of the biggest Scottish football teams and whilst part of their fanbase is probably sectarian, we mustn’t generalise. We can’t suppose that every Man United fan is a prawn sandwich munching, glory hunting stock broker from Surrey, nor can we presume that every Rangers or Celtic supporter is a bigoted spide. Likewise, not everyone applauds the Queen’s role as head of our state, but it is possible to support a constitutional monarchy without raving about the Pope.

There are mentions of ‘loyalist slogans’ and smashed green traffic lights which provide the hint of fire under the Scotsman’s smoke. So why label particular aspects of behaviour ‘sectarian’ when they do not justify that label? Why not be more responsible and uncover actual instances of sectarianism? It is, at best, a rather lazy use of words.

20 comments:

Kevinho said...

Well, what about the Loyalist slogans apparently daubed on the road to go with the pleasantly painted kerbstones?

As for the Rangers fans, while I agree that many are not bigots, just attend a match involving them and see what the fans are wearing. Just take at look at their orange 'No Surrender' scarves. Its also a mystery to me what carrying around Northern Ireland and Union flags has to do with supporting a football team fae Govan.

Chekov said...

Kev - I pretty clear state in the article that the loyalist slogans might have provided the 'smoking gun' which the Scotsman is looking for. I'm not defending any of this stuff. But accuracy is important and describing painting kerb stones as sectarian is inaccurate. There might be a sectarian motive behind doing it, it might be part of a range of behaviour which could be described as sectarian, but it is not 'sectarian behaviour' ergo the paper should not describe it as such. It's vandalism.

Chekov said...

Incidentally - it's always wise to read the post as well as the headline before commenting.

ironbed said...

Chekov, your convenient inability to see sectarianism as the reason behind this marking of territory is hilarious. I see the same colours daubed on kerbstones- thereby marking out territory all across North Belfast where I live. All painted in the primary colours of red white and blue. It's akin to animals marking their territory out of fear. The fear, in Belfast at least, is spawned by the loyalist's Seige Mentality which compels grown men to paint curbs, build bonfires and an uncontrolable urge to go marching up and down the streets while banging big drums....actually I now also see the hilarious side!

Chekov said...

You've appear to have completely missed the point.

ironbed said...

What more proof do you need that this type of activity - kerb paint - is nothing but sedtarianism?

Someone from the "other side" hospitalised?

O'Neill said...

ironbed

All painted in the primary colours of red white and blue

Are those the only colours you've seen on your tours of the badlands of N. Belfast... or are you suffering from selective colour-blindness?

Chekov said...

Yes. I want somebody from the 'other side' hospitalised. Guilty as charged. Dear me.

Chekov said...

Is it just me that sees that whilst the motivation behind an activity might be sectarian, that the activity itself need not necessarily be sectarian? THE POINT OF THE POST IS ABOUT LAZY LANGUAGE IN A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE. Not defending kerbstone painting. Goodness me!

ironbed said...

O'Neill... of course I have seen other colours painted across North Belfast. But Red White and Blue is the only prevelant colour scheme which is intended to frighten the neighbours with ie Catholics. When was the last time you saw a Nationalist area painted with "Green, White and Orange" colours?

ironbed said...

Chekov: "THE POINT OF THE POST IS ABOUT LAZY LANGUAGE IN A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE."

Or is it the point that you do not agree with the editor's decision
to run this story?

If you had your way then the Media would be censored...so long as a Unionist agenda wasn't affected.

Wise up.

Dewi Harries said...

The famous Larkhall green traffic lights which have to be protected by iron mesh....and Subway had to change its livery from green to blue....what a lovely place....

O'Neill said...

"When was the last time you saw a Nationalist area painted with "Green, White and Orange" colours?"

Is that a serious question?

Chekov said...

If you had your way then the Media would be censored...so long as a Unionist agenda wasn't affected.

Once again you've rumbled me. Anyway, I hope the hangover's not too onerous.

loki said...

ironbed
How come all prods appear in your eyes to be nasty sectarian bigots?
Also, a minor point of information about deleineating territory. There were a number of studies done many yars ago, mainly in Philidelphia, because of the gang trouble there. Anyway, the interesting thing they found is that while grafitti was used to mark a turf boundary the place with more grafitti was in the centre of the territory, so that it was very clear who was in charge. Thus, your claim that this kind of vandalism is "to frighten the neighbours with ie catholics" and your statement about siege mentality is actually, at very best, only a small, small part of the reasoning. It has much more to do with asserting control- think of it as dogs peeing on lamposts.
BTW totally agree with Chekov- lazy, lazy journalism and it should be challneged every time, because alzy thinking gets people into all sorts of trouble- including you, since you choose to accept poor journalism over thinking for yourself.

ironbed said...

O'neill, yes that is a serious question. After all you did ask me "Are those the only colours you've seen on your tours of the badlands of N. Belfast... or are you suffering from selective colour-blindness?"

Yes they are the only colours I've seen painted on kerbs in North Belfast.

ironbed said...

That's it Chekov, start getting personal.

ironbed said...

Loki, I just read the article, I didn't publish it.

Anonymous said...

Seems some posters are falling for the lazy, "them there Unionists/Loyalists/Prods/Orangies (delete as appropriate) are the bigots sure, Catholics are no were near as bad"...... oh how I roll my eyes.

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