The NSS, for example stated that “The time when the church could command such draconian actions has long past…”. This statement is completely inaccurate and ignorant. When have the Catholic Church EVER had this power in Britain? When have they EVER had this influence? When has the Catholic Church EVER wielded any sort of political authority in Scotland? A simple read over any Scottish/British history book renders this statement complete nonsense.
The NSS and Richard Dawkins ignore long standing and significant social factors such as the institutionalised anti-catholic prejudice, discrimination, hostility and violence that were a hallmark of Scottish society for several generations. They have displayed a reluctance to acknowledge how deep this anti-catholic attitude ran in Scottish society, from government through industry and right through many other areas of Scottish society right up until recent times.
It also leads me to question where they stand on other aspects of Scottish football that would/could/are considered sectarian or racist?
What are their views on anti-faith and anti-catholic songs that are sung at Scottish football grounds? What are their views on the membership of people involved in Scottish football (on and off the pitch) in anti-catholic and ‘religious’ organisations (such as the Apprentice boys of Derry, the Masons, the Royal Black Preceptory to name but a few)?
What are their views on religious discrimination that ‘prohibited’ certain clubs from bringing players of a certain religion?
What are their views on what is ‘unacceptable’ behaviour for an employee of a prominent and important organisation like the SFA? What behaviour WOULD actually merit disciplinary action in their opinion?
Is religious mockery and ridicule acceptable in Scottish football and society?
What is their position on racist ‘jokes’ in Scottish football and society?
With regards to the ‘joke’ that Dallas emailed, substitute the anti-Catholic ‘joke’ for a racist one and it remains offensive. The NSS are not interested in tackling inequality or centuries of discriminatory practices, attitudes and posturing. Rather, this wannabe ‘intellectually-superior’ ignores what has been (and still is to a great degree) prevalent in Scottish society, and by logical extension Scottish football. Instead, it focuses on one aspect of an incident in which an employee broke several of a company’s IT guidelines and was summarily disciplined. It is not interested in tackling other aspects of Scottish society that are sectarian and divisive but rather are only concerned in scoring points in an anti-Catholic rant. At best, their position is ignorant and ill-informed. At worst, their position is insidious, nasty and completely one sided.
When an organisation like this makes a statement along the lines as the one used in defending Hugh Dallas it causes me great suspicion. I’ve yet to see any ‘attacks’ or criticism on the Church of Scotland, the Church of England or any of the other minor churches or religions in Britain and any role and influence that they have had, or continue to have, in society. It raises the question what exactly is this groups main goal? Is it the eradication of religious influence in society or is it an intellectual snobby group’s’ campaign against apparently ‘media friendly targets’ i.e. Islam and Catholicism?
I am not a practicing Catholic. However, I found the ‘joke’ in this email in extremely bad taste, offensive and ill-befitting a man whose position needs to display impartiality. I also find the NSS’s role in this ‘debate’ (and I use that term loosely) extremely unhelpful due to the lack of balance they project and lack of consistency they have had on this issue (and indeed related issues such as religious bigotry in Scotland). The NSS’s next action and statement on this matter will determine what role they want to play in this debate. It will be interesting to note whether they want a rounded debate or whether they have achieved all they wanted to in a media friendly, hysterical denouncement.