The Scottish News today
Rangers Football Club, after years of comparative failure, made worse by the continual triumphs of Celtic FC, its main opponent, in a battle which is cultural and religious as well as sporting, won the Scottish Premier League yesterday. This was celebrated by thousands of supporters coming together outside the football ground at Ibrox in Glasgow and later at George Square, to sing, and chant and let off fireworks. Police pleaded with them to disperse but were ignored. The First Minister pleaded with them online but was ignored.
Clearly for them the victory of their club was far more important than concerns about spreading the corona virus amongst each other, and amongst other members of the public. The manager of Rangers FC, Steven Gerrard, excused the behaviour by saying, “These people have gone through hell” referring presumably to years without triumphs.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan gave an interview to Oprah Winfrey on USA television speaking mainly about Meghan’s difficult experience with the British Royal family, who were depicted as cold, hidebound, and racist. The couple are very rich by ordinary standards, and have decided to live in the USA which is a beacon of open democracy compared to the UK. They would like to be loved and respected just for being who they are.
My Christian faith leads me to characterise both of these bits of frontline news as utterly trivial, neither Rangers nor the Sussexes have any real importance other than being somewhat different aspects of celebrity culture. Both the Rangers supporters and the royal couple exhibit a sense of entitlement which is a matter of concern.
Because the supporters have had to wait many years for their team to triumph, they feel entitled to break the law, putting their own and other lives at risk, simply to display this success in a civic space which they share with supporters of other teams and of none. Their years of disappointment at their team’s lack of success are presented as if they were the experiences of an oppressed people or downtrodden minority, rather than what they are: a hobby which has brought some trivial disadvantages along with its pleasures, which are for many spiced with sectarian hatred. A culture which excuses or promotes this sort of behaviour has lost its grasp of reality and its sense of civic values.
Oh come on, some may say, it’s just fun. Ask the attending policemen if they thought it was fun, and it might be good next week to get the views of those who’ve got the virus as a result of it: they could die laughing.
When it comes to the royal exiles, I have to confess that I am not a royalist, feeling a lack of democratic choice as to who should represent me and my nation; whilst admiring the choices made in Eire of people such as Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. I am sympathetic to the notion that there are victims of our perpetuation of a hereditary royal establishment. But here are celebrity young people, privileged in their past, present and future, who feel entitled to the attention of the world over their family squabbles. Perhaps the revelation that one established royal person asked just exactly how black Meghan’s first baby might be, may have the benefit of making the British public ask whether they need such dick-headedness beyond the demise of the present monarch; but I doubt it.
The existence of mass media which make money out of elite sport or the lives of elite people, encourages a sense of entitlement among elites and their followers, which leads to a public neglect of real worth and real importance, such as the real worth of nurses offered a 1% pay rise, or the real importance of the the people of Yemen who will suffer a reduction of British aid this year. Maybe a sense that the lives of human beings are graced by a divine love to which we are not entitled, can keep us sane, humble and committed to the welfare of our fellows.