Monday, 23 September 2013

"Subsections" for Slow Learners - How A Subsection of Rangers Fans Claim To Represent Every Rangers Fan

“Subsections” for Slow Learners

Some readers of the Ghost of The Billy Boy blog seem either unable - or unwilling - to comprehend the word subsection. For those unable to distinguish between a team’s support and a subsection thereof, see the Oxford Dictionary definition of subsection;

A division of a section

Get it? A division of a section.  i.e. not the whole section.

Should the Oxford dictionary not be an authoritative enough source, try the Collins dictionary;

A section of a section; subdivision

Get it? A section of a section. i.e. a subdivision of a section.

In the interest of leaving no stone unturned, check the Cambridge dictionary definition of subsection;

One of the smaller parts into which the main parts of a document or an organisation are divided

It would be hard to deny then that there’s a consensus as to what a subsection is. Yet a subsection of Rangers fans have been unwilling to understand what a subsection is.  (Predictably, many fans and commentators didn’t actually read the blog before commenting, preferring instead to rely on Chinese whispers, perhaps not the most forensic analytical tool available to them).

For instance, I’d referred to a subsection of Rangers supporters as being unduly sympathetic to Billy Boy Fullerton and indeed sought in the modern age to emulate to a degree similar tactics to their hero.

Fullerton, who’d used intimidation to further the aims of British anti-left elements during the late 1920s and 30s, was, we all know, an inspiration for The Billy Boy song. Some objected to the application of the term fascist to Fullerton and his fellow travellers. Yet how else should we describe a chap who joined The British Union of Fascists in the 1930s? Or who helped found a Glasgow branch of the Ku Klux Klan?

A subsection (i.e. a subdivision of a section) of Rangers supporters over decades have been, and indeed remain, sympathetic to the aims, beliefs and character of Billy Fullerton, a man who, remember, joined the British Union of Fascists at a time when a Fascist threat to the UK, indeed the world, was developing in Germany and elsewhere. All this is uncontentious by any objective measure, notwithstanding Fullerton’s own personal journey which did involve, post 1945, a degree of redemption.

Let’s say for the sake of this argument that this subsection (i.e. not the whole section) is small in number. This small subsection, when it is called out, shamelessly suggests that any complaints against it are complaints against every Ranger’s fan. In other words, the subsection claims to be the whole.  But, of course, it is not.

Clearly not every Rangers fan admires Billy Fullerton, or sings The Billy Boy song, or sings the Famine Song (deemed racist by a Scottish court), or hates Catholics, or seeks political association with the UVF and other terrorist organisations, or is sympathetic to Far Right organisations such as the BNP, or the often balaclava-wearing EDL.  Nor does every Rangers fan seek to stifle any debate among others about their club or to intimidate anyone who even refers to the existence of such debate.

I happen to know this because, though I am an Aberdeen supporter, I grew up with many who supported Rangers, my maternal grandfather being a season ticket holder, attending games from the 1920s to the 1970s. My step-dad was a fan, though didn’t go to many games. Neither of them, nor the pals I grew up with, had a racist, sectarian or fascist bone in their bodies. Nor would they have rushed to identify themselves with the subsection described above. Nor would they have been tricked by such a subsection into defending it.

Is the term fascist appropriate when describing at least elements within this subsection? How should fascist be defined in this context? Perhaps people within this subsection, who sang the praises of Fascist party members like Fullerton, shouldn’t be surprised if they themselves are suspected of sharing – or at least sympathising with – certain fascist views.

Perhaps those who seek to intimidate book shops from stocking books, or who hound book editors, writers and journalists to the point they fear their employment - or worse their safety - is compromised could come up with an alternative term to describe their antics.

Who precisely is being described as being part of this particular subsection? In my view it is anyone who doesn’t condemn intimidation, sectarianism, Islamophobia, racism, and who resorts to intimidation in order to force their views on others and to create a climate where certain alternative views cannot be uttered - or even referred to.

Many football clubs in the UK have subsections that are unduly sympathetic to unsavoury characters and/or beliefs. This is not about one club’s subsection and it’s understandable that any club’s supporters would not thank outsiders for judging its worst elements.

Let’s hope then that the vast majority of real supporters don’t let these subsections (i.e. divisions of sections) present themselves as the sole representatives of the whole.

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