Man Jailed for Racist Internet Post

Man jailed for racist internet post


A man who used a social networking website to post sectarian comments about Catholics and Celtic supporters has been jailed for eight months.
Stephen Birrell, 28, from Glasgow, was also handed a five-year football banning order at Glasgow Sheriff Court for writing the comments on a Facebook page titled Neil Lennon Should Be Banned.
Sentencing him, Sheriff Bill Totten said the courts had to send “a clear message to deter others who might be tempted to behave in this way”.
One of the comments, posted a day before a Celtic v Rangers game on March 2 this year, read: “Hope they all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha.”
Two days after the match, he wrote: “Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers.”

Unbelievable!

I have no idea if there is more to this story than meets the eye; Β yes, the comments are not pleasant but one reads such things on the internet on a daily basis.

On the one hand I applaud a stand against this sort of idiocy, but a custodial sentence seems to be quite draconian.

59 thoughts on “Man Jailed for Racist Internet Post”

  1. The animosity between Rangers and Celtic fans in Glasgow is much worse than “not pleasant”, Araminta, and has led to deaths in the past. Unfortunately the prison sentence will probably only give the thug more “street cred” among his ilk. But then there would be no point in a fine, since he’s probably on benefits anyway. I think the Sheriff knew what he was doing. Birrell will have to hope he gets quick protection from the “proddies” inside before the other lot get him.

  2. It does seem a little harsh – but I suppose it’s better than a tap on the wrist. I would suspect that the real hardship might be the five year banning order.

    I’ve never quite understood why fines have to be paid in money. Confiscation of property – like his TV sets – might be appropriate.

  3. Oo-er!

    While I’m sure this guy is an antisocial thug, to prosecute him under racial hatred laws seems to me to be way over the top, and politically correct to the n-th degree.

    One only has to read MyT to wonder why Duckham and several others have not been prosecuted for their blatant antiSemitism, with their regular exhortations for the Jews to be “driven into the sea”. I find this far more offensive and clearly within the incitement to violence category than a thick Jock having a pop at the opposing football team. Isn’t that what Jocks do? Isn’t it a fundamental part of the Scottish sub-culture?

    Boadicea will have to caution JM and JW, at this rate. :-(.

  4. Boadicea, my thoughts precisely, but why not confiscate his keyboard or cut off his internet connection, as well as his TV.

    I don’t know the whole story, but Sheona has given some background information.
    Frankly, I’m in two minds about the whole thing, but I do deplore some of these Facebook campaigns I’ve read about recently in the press.

  5. Bearsy.

    Yes, it does have interesting ramifications about comments on the Dark Side. I could name some who are far far worse than the examples you quote.

    Indeed there are some members of this site who are equally guilty, in my opinion.

  6. Ah, now them’s fighting words, Araminta.
    Please name the offending Charoteers – or apologise.

  7. You mentioned the guilty ones, Bearsy, in your last sentence of your comment #4!

    I do hope that Boadicea will not feel the need to caution them. πŸ˜‰

    So, I’m not fighting anyone, Bearsy; neither am I apologising.

  8. Hmm! There’s a backdown and a half. I don’t believe a word of it Araminta, but I’ll let you get away with it.

  9. “a pop at the opposing football team” is one thing, Bearsy, but the feeling between Rangers and Celtic fans of a certain social level is hatred. There is nothing like it in any other British city to my knowledge and it has been going on for a long, long time. I do feel that the Sheriff knows his city and its people and, having had this case brought before him, has acted as he deems best.

    As for Duckham et al, we know MyT will only banish those who say truthful things about Kate Day.

  10. Hi Sheona and Bearsy.

    I really don’t want this post to turn into a discussion of characters on another site.

    This was not my intention.

    Your contribution, Sheona was more than relevant, I admit to not understanding the hatred between Rangers and Celtic fans, so my thanks for the background information.

  11. Araminta, we Scots have a particular sense of humour which JM and JW (if he’s the Royalist) both display. But JM is a lawyer and unlikely to be overstepping any lines when “joshing”. He even makes rude remarks about the University of Aberdeen, a more ancient and honourable institution than the University of Edinburgh. We didn’t give Gordon Brown a degree or a PhD.

  12. That I do understand and appreciate, Sheona. I’m a dedicated and long standing fan of both JW and JM.

    I enjoy the joshing from them both.

  13. I think it is difficult to appreciate the intensity of the animosity between certain groups of Rangers and Celtic supporters. But Glasgow is the city of my birth and I grew up in an atmosphere of jokes at the expense of one lot or the other. The last time I was in Glasgow there was a local derby and the streets were full of supporters from Northern Ireland as well as Scotland. So the Ulster divisions were being brought over the Irish Sea to fuel the hatred between the Celtic and Rangers supporters. And there were Eire flags around too!

  14. Thanks for the information, Sheona. It really helps to have first-hand information on these sort of topics.

    Love your comment about Kate Day!

  15. You are absolutely right, Sheona, it is difficult to appreciate the animosity, hence my comment in the post that I thought there was more to it.

    I now know there is, and I understand from your comments about the background.

    My thanks. It is always good to hear from someone who has personal experience. I found the whole article short on background and the facts presented didn’t quite add up.

  16. Sheona, which is which?
    That is, which team comes from which city and which religion is it linked with?
    And what do the Northern Irish have to do with it?

    I am as genuinely ignorant on these matters as you might be about Floriade or Henley on Todd. 😦

  17. Aye weel, Ara.

    There is indeed a lot more to this story than meets the eye, in my opinion.

    1 Stephen Birrell had just been released from a 12 month prison sentence when he committed this offence. I have not yet been able to establish what crime led to that incarceration but his previous record must, quite properly, have been taken into account when the Sheriff sentenced him this time?

    2. We are, at present awaiting legislative proposals from the puffed-up wastes of space that are Scumbag Salmond and his acolytes. Said proposals are allegedly intended to put a stop to sectarianism in Scotland once and for all. Perhaps this salutary sentence for Mr Birrell is intended to demonstrate that our present law is perfectly capable of dealing with any perceived sectarianism and that we really do not need bad and hasty new legislation which might only inflame the situation?

    Just so you all know what crud we have to put up with in Salmond’s Brave New Jockworld, it is suggested that, if his legislation went through in its present form, those of us who take pride in singing our National Anthem (which is, for the avoidance of doubt, ‘God Save the Queen’) could be done for it if we sang it in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  18. Ah, thank you, Mr Mackie, for your comment. I rather hoped you would give us your take on the matter.

    Not that I intended to distract you from your fitness regime, but it does add more substance as to why he was given a custodial sentence.

    Thank you!

  19. sheona :

    Araminta, we Scots have a particular sense of humour which JM and JW (if he’s the Royalist) both display. But JM is a lawyer and unlikely to be overstepping any lines when β€œjoshing”. He even makes rude remarks about the University of Aberdeen, a more ancient and honourable institution than the University of Edinburgh. We didn’t give Gordon Brown a degree or a PhD.

    Humph, Sheona.

    Much as I presently dislike my former close personal friend from my student days, it is a matter of record that he was not ‘given’ his degree or PhD from the Uni of Embra. He earned them both and overcame considerable difficulties so to do. I was there and remember how difficult it was for him, given his eyesight.

    Doesn’t make him a good person, of course, and he should still rot in Hell (if there were one) for eternity for what he has done to my country.

    And Embra Uni still knocks the Granite City educational establisment into a cocked hat intellectually. In my opinion. Plus, we’ve got Princess Anne as Chancellor in succession to Phil the Greek .You’ve got Lord Wilson of Tillyorn alias who?

    Joshingly yours

    JM

  20. Bearsy :

    Sheona, which is which?
    That is, which team comes from which city and which religion is it linked with?

    Bearsy, they are both from Glasgow, I’m quite familiar with the sectarian antagonism in British football.

    Most British football clubs were formed during the late 19th century when the divide between Protestantism and Catholicism was huge and in some parts (particularly Scotland and obviously Ireland) is still maintained.

    Therefore, cities which had more than one football club attracted fans from opposing religions, so for example:-

    Glasgow has Glasgow Rangers (protestant) Glasgow Celtic (catholic)
    Edinburgh has Heart of Midlothian F.C. (protestant) Hibernian F.C (catholic)

    The large English clubs similarly have religious connotations in their respective histories –

    Manchester City (protestant) Manchester United (catholic)
    Liverpool F.C. (protestant) Everton F.C. (catholic)

    It’s probably fair to say that in England it was more a question of like attracting like then the overt sectarianism which is apparent in Scotland and Ireland.

    Bearsy :

    And what do the Northern Irish have to do with it?

    As you probably know, nowhere on earth is the Protestant / Catholic divide greater than in Northern Ireland, the closeness of the two countries both geographically, and family have always offered an avenue for loyalties and sympathies to one side or the other to be expressed (often violently) by nutters from both sides.

  21. Araminta :

    Unbelievable!

    I have no idea if there is more to this story than meets the eye; yes, the comments are not pleasant but one reads such things on the internet on a daily basis.

    On the one hand I applaud a stand against this sort of idiocy, but a custodial sentence seems to be quite draconian.

    Morning Ara.

    I don’t quite understand your viewpoint here. I detect a wishy washy fence-sitting opinion.

    Firstly you announce ‘Unbelievable’ leading me to think that you disagree with the sentence, then you applaud the sentence and disagree with it by calling it ‘draconian’ which is it?

    Just because this sort of hate speech (for that is what it is) is read ‘on the internet on a daily basis’ does not make it okay or acceptable in my mind.

    I ask myself what would happen for example if a talk show host promoted violence and the death of opposing supporters or a newspaper or any public organization for that matter? We will never know because they daren’t, they know that they would be closed down quicker than they could recite 3 Hail Marys πŸ˜‰

    I’m quite happy for idiots who spout hatred of this sort (in any form) to be locked up

  22. Minty: I understand your point. That the courts are trying to maintain order is a pleasant change, especially considering the riots that broke out earlier this year. Best to nip these things in the bud, to use the expression so beloved by Americans. At the surface the punishment does seem a bit harsh, but considering the lingering tensions and how easy it is to inflame them, the punishment is fitting.

  23. I place my small furry paw in the air and claim membership of Minty MBEs (#6) transgressors. I will admit to some name calling of certain religious preachers, I neither deny nor regret it. Now it seems I can be locked up for it?

    If they fiddle with kids or cover up for their fellow fiddlers they deserve much more than a few choice adjectives IMHO.

  24. Ferret – I think it’s not the name-calling, but the incitement to violence that’s the crime.

  25. Morning all,

    Looks like we’ll have to build a lot of new jails. Wonder where the money’s going to come from.

    While agreeing with Sheona that there are “incidents” between opposing fans of limited intelligence, it’s not as bad as it used to be. Of course, there are no-go areas but the prevalence of rival football tops in most places (disagree with this completely, BTW, football tops should only be worn at matches not ASDA for example) doesn’t cause trouble where previously it would have.

    Soutie #25- Spot on. I could add that politics has been added to the mix. The Palestinian flag flies regularly at Parkhead as does the flag of ETA. It seems a small minority have taken it on themselves to support oppressed, in their opinion, groups around the world.

    Over at Scotland’s Greatest institution the union flag flies proudly and at every match with a few minutes to go the National Anthem ( that’s GSTQ, corroborating JM’s words) is belted out from the stands.

  26. Given the background I do not think this punishment was excessive.

    Neil Lennon

    The Scottish courts seem to be having a crackdown on sectarian violence and this can only be welcomed. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m just off to the Dark Side to rattle the faux frog’s cage before they outlaw the practice.

    OZ

  27. Thank you, Soutie, for doing the explanations. I remember a joke I was once told, illustrating the heights or depths of stupidity to which this Glasgow sectarianism extends. A little Jewish boy was starting a new school in Glasgow and was very afraid that he would be picked on because of his religion. Sure enough at the first break he was cornered in the playground. “Are yous a “cat” or a “dog”?” was the question. Trembling the little lad said he was a Jew. “Aye, but are you a “cat-Jew” or a “dog-Jew”?” was the reply.

  28. Oh Gawd, just as I thought I’d understood. WTF do felines and canines have to do with it? πŸ˜•

  29. Hi Soutie.

    Yes, you are quite right, I’m fence-sitting on this issue, or I prefer to describe it as not indulging in knee jerk reactions to an article which I felt did not contain sufficient information.

    I agree, the fact that this sort of hate speech appears on a daily basis does not make it right! But as JW pointed out, we would have to start building more prisons pretty quickly if we are to incarcerate all the perpetrators for up to five years.

    Have you seen this article about the current campaign on Facebook about rape?

    Dr Aric Sigman, the author of Remotely Controlled and several papers on social media, said Facebook and other websites allowed contributors to post comments with no accountability.

    “It makes the abnormal normal,” he said. “It creates an artificial world in which people can say things without the normal checks and balances, from adults and peer groups, that would be applied in real life.

     

  30. It sends a shiver down my spine. On the one hand, I think it is terrifyingly Orwellian. If people are to be locked up for what they say online, then I am surprised I haven’t had the knock at the door long ago. On the other hand, I suppose all forms of internet communication are new genres, so the rules, laws and conventions are non existent. The internet gives free rein to one and all – from those inside the arab spring, to trolls who post their sick stuff on suicide victims’ facebook pages, to people who name, shame and defame each other online…I don’t know what the answer is. I would still adhere to the old Voltarean principle of defending other people’s right to say what they wish, though I might disagree with what they say, but I suppose a good dollop of common sense and a sense of moral/social responsibility are needed as well.

  31. Ferret :

    I place my small furry paw in the air and claim membership of Minty MBEs (#6) transgressors. I will admit to some name calling of certain religious preachers, I neither deny nor regret it. Now it seems I can be locked up for it?

    If they fiddle with kids or cover up for their fellow fiddlers they deserve much more than a few choice adjectives IMHO.

    Dear Furry, as a small pink-eared inciter of violence you are a dismal failure!
    This is intended as a compliment. πŸ™‚

  32. Certainly an interesting development. I suspect the stiff sentence is deliberate, to attract the maximum publicity and attention from the media with the authorities concerned to quell growing tensions between the sides, evidenced in the past year by the confrontation between McCoist and Lennon as respective managers,. Yes families have built upon the divide and there is a real hatred in some quarters (the burning of buses in the past.) . But I don’t think the laws governing internet racist comment and abuse are the vehicle for dishing this prison term out. This type of comment is indeed common and is indicative of the wicked/sick/funny humour of many Rangers supporters. I have personally seen mock hatred between Prison Officers from Barlinnie Prison and this in the 60’s an d 70’s and this never had an evil edge to it. A lot of it was comic banter. But for others, the divide was burnt into their soul.

  33. But why is this post entitled “racist”?

    Sectarian-based violence, yes. But it has naught to do with race. They are all, are they not, Scottish? If that is actually a race.

    Deplorable for sure, but it isn’t racism. πŸ™„

  34. Indeed, Bearsy.

    What took you so long?

    The title of this post was lifted straight from The Independent!

    Do you remember a previous discussion about modern usage of the word?

  35. Araminta – I remember you asserting that racism means whatever you choose it to mean. You were wrong then, and you remain wrong now.

    You read The Independent? Say three Hail Marys immediately!

  36. Nope, quite incorrect, Bearsy.The press choose to label such things Racism; I do not.

    I do occasionally read The Independent, and even, the Guardian, but I maintain it’s not a sin. I mean it’s not like reading the Daily Mail, is it? πŸ˜‰

  37. Personally I think anybody not supporting the Hispanic re-conquest (read “Liberation”) of Nth America and the driving of the Americanos into the sea, as being very racist; we must all support such worthy causes. Please donate to the “Lets build a pyramid in New York” appeal.

    πŸ™‚

  38. Donald: Thought the pyramids were Aztec or Inca (Whatever happened to those nice people?). The “Liberation” seems to be already going along quite nicely here, over a million illegals every year and all with high fertility, I’d give whitey about twenty more years in the so called drivers seat. Having said that maybe we could share a cell when they come for us both?

  39. Thanks to JW, OZ, Christopher and PapaG for your contributions here. All very interesting and enlightening.
    I hope I haven’t missed anyone!

  40. Stated some time ago that the rebuilding of Hadrian’s wall was grievously overdue!
    Now you see one of the reasons why.

    I am somewhat bemused that citizens of the UK are ignorant and unaware of what goes on in their own islands.

  41. It’s the language difference, Christina. Sassenachs, and many Scots not from Glasgow, do not understand the patois of Rab C Nesbitt and his ilk. But then there are other Scottish dialects incomprhensible to outsiders. The author Ian Rankin in one of his Rebus books describes Aberdeen policemen as the “Furryboots”. Initially one would think that, since Aberdeen can be very cold, furry boots would be a good idea. It is in fact a version of the Aberdeen question to a stranger : “Fur aboots ye fae?” or “Where do you come from?”

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