My Response to a Prolific Commenter + Some House Rules re Free Speech

I don’t usually address a blog post to one commenter, but I am going to make an exception here.

Baxterboy was very busy over a seven-hour period late last night, chipping in with twenty separate comments totalling over 1,600 words. Rather than try to answer each one individually on the thread, I think it best to write this separate post, and in doing so to make some general suggestions regarding the site and its comments.

If Baxterboy chooses to respond, as he is entitled to do, then I would be grateful if it is done in the form of a single post or comment.

For the avoidance of doubt, as regular readers will know, most comments submitted to this blog are posted. It takes a lot for them not to be approved, and despite the suggestion of one commenter on Rangers Media (good morning to you) I do not eliminate posts because they get lots of thumbs down. Have a look through the site, and I am sure that you will find lots of thumbed down comments – they are all still there!

I will start with some general comments prompted by Baxterboy.

Free Speech

Most things are allowed here. However gratuitous insults to my Church, simply thrown in without any relevance to the topic at hand, will generally not get through. Why? It is my site.

For the avoidance of any doubt, I believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

If anyone wants to write a post about the Inquisition, for example, please feel free to do so and send it to me, especially if it has a legal background or relevance.

As far as editing comments goes, then one can call it censorship, if you want to. I do not edit them to change their sense, to ridicule the commenter, or even to correct spelling or grammar! It is rare that a comment is edited by me. I will try, but cannot guarantee, that I will note that in every piece.

What I do try to do is to email people where I block or edit a comment. Surprisingly few of the recipients ever reply, and it is amazing how many people list non-existent email addresses when registering for the site!

Free speech is not an absolute right.

As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes described it in the US Supreme Court case of Schenk v US in 1919:-

The character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done. Aikens v. Wisconsin, 195 U.S. 194, 205, 206. The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force. Gompers v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418, 439. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree. When a nation is at war many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right. It seems to be admitted that if an actual obstruction of the recruiting service were proved, liability for words that produced that effect might be enforced. The statute of 1917 in § 4 punishes conspiracies to obstruct as well as actual obstruction. If the act, (speaking, or circulating a paper,) its tendency and the intent with which it is done are the same, we perceive no ground for saying that success alone warrants making the act a crime. Goldman v. United States, 245 U.S. 474, 477. Indeed that case might be said to dispose of the present contention if the precedent covers all media concludendi. But as the right to free speech was not referred to specially, we have thought fit to add a few words.

That case relates to the US Constitution’s First Amendment Rights, but is a succinct statement of the law as it exists throughout the legally developed world.

Scattergun Comments

Baxterboy brought up lots of topics, many of which had nothing really to do with what the threads related to. I do not mind the discussion heading down highways and byways, but it does make things difficult to keep track of! Try to hold on to the point, and if there is a burning desire to start a separate discussion here, then feel free to email me and I might start a new thread. However, this is a blog and not a message board.

Pennsylvania State University

I will repeat again what I posted last night, and several weeks ago.

Please feel free to write a piece regarding this, if you wish, and if I am happy to put it on site, then I will. However, it’s my site, and I will post what I want to.

As my comment said, I think the use of this allegation in some way to mitigate RFC’s alleged guilt re totally unrelated matters, is a gross dis-service, and indeed an insult, to the victims of the crimes in question.

I fail to see what relevance the matter has to the present issues facing the Rangers FC.

As I said, write a piece if you want, and even if I do not post it, then I am sure there are websites which would.

Am I a “Celtic Blogger”?

I have mentioned from time to time that my favoured football team is that from my home town of Coatbridge, Albion Rovers. People can choose to believe that or not.

I think it is fair to say that a lot of Celtic fans read this, and comment here. Fans of other teams do so too. And even there are some commenters interested in law rather than football!

If people want to label me as a Celtic blogger, then they are free to do so, although that would be wrong. In answer to a blog by Chris Graham, a prominent Rangers supporting writer, many months ago, I said that, if offered a choice between Rangers and Celtic, then I would choose Celtic. He decided that made me a Celtic fan. That is up to him.

I think the frantic desire to classify people as Celtic or Rangers bloggers is a symptom of the “if not with us you are against us” syndrome. It is possible to write negatively about Celtic, and not be a Rangers fan, as indeed Phil Mac Giolla Bhain has done from time to time. It is possible to write negatively about what the owners of Rangers have done or are doing, and not be a Celtic fan. There are forty two senior football teams in Scotland, and there are even some people with no interest in the sport at all, but who are interested in matters of law and economics related to it.

The Scottish Education System

As with the Penn State issue and the Spanish Inquisition (which no one expects), feel free to write me a piece about it. Comments that the education system = apartheid = bigotry won’t do. As a brief comment, and I can do brief comments, rather than brief analysis, I am a firm believer in and supporter of the education system in Scotland. The ills attributed to it are done so incorrectly, in my view.


Now for some specifics for Baxterboy.

Celtic – Shame, Contempt and Derision

You accused Phil Mac Giolla Bhain (see, it is not hard to spell it correctly) and his “kind” of succeeding “in making Celtic FC a byword for mindless thuggery and foul mouthed obscenity. You have turned the name of the club you profess to love into an object of shame, contempt and derision.”

That may be the case in the circles within which you move. I suspect that, in the wider world, there are other football teams to whom those descriptions could be applied. By the way, please do not take that comment as a veiled reference to Rangers, unless you want to, of course. I can run off a list of clubs to which those epithets could be applied, but I won’t.

Is there evidence for what you are saying?

I will try to resist any comment upon a proud poster from Rangers Media condemning someone else for “foul mouthed obscenity” as that would be a tu quoque argument.

Sectarian Signing Policies

The general public perception is that, for many years, Rangers would not sign Roman Catholics, as a matter of policy. Are you saying that that is wrong? Can you point me in the direction of evidence to suggest that was not the case? (and if you turn it round by saying it is for me to make the case, then touché! However, I am sure many writers far better than me have made the case over the years.)

Did Celtic have a deliberate policy of excluding non-Catholics from the Boardroom? You tell me. In what way did Celtic practise a “racist” Boardroom policy? Which race or races were barred from the Boardroom?

If they did have a “sectarian” policy, does that excuse a religious element in Rangers signing policies? I do not think so. Do you?

Rangers Media

If you are correct, and as a regular on Rangers Media you would know better than me, that “Rangers supporters on the site abuse their own a lot more than they do Celtic”, then I am speechless. I have seen some of the things written about Celtic, about Neil Lennon, about Anthony Stokes and Paddy McCourt, and about Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, Alex Thomson and even myself. If you are writing worse things about each other…

Words fail me…

You are entitled to your belief that Rangers Media is a great site. I am sure many agree with you. I suspect many would not.

Is Charles Green In It for the Money?

You suggest that he is not, as shown by his signings. He is a businessman. There is nothing wrong with him being in Rangers for the money. That is what businessmen do.

Are you suggesting that he, who has never claimed to be a Rangers fan previously, is doing what he is doing out of love for the club?

Pacific Shelf

I assume that is a reference to Celtic. I know some people get annoyed by that. Not a problem here. It is a far more complimentary name than many applied to that club on Rangers Media.

Tax Avoidance

I think Allyjambo answered that comment of yours perfectly well.

Pots and Kettles

Show me where my argument falls down, rather than having a crack at me. See my lengthy definition of ad hominem.


I take it you were being satirical suggesting that Phil bribed the editor of the Sun to cancel the serialisation? Because if that is a serious suggestion, then it is clearly defamatory of both men.

I posted about the Streisand Effect. I am sure that the Sun cancellation was not part of some fiendish Opus Dei-sponsored plot, for example, to make Phil’s book number one in the charts. If it was…

“Old” and “New” Rangers

As you would know from reading this site, the existence and status of Rangers new and old has been analysed at great length. I do not propose to do so again just now. Making light of someone who says he is an unsatisfied creditor of Rangers FC PLC (as it then was) seems heartless and unnecessary.


So, to recap.

Baxterboy, I do not agree with much that you write, or the manner in which you do so, but generally I am prepared to post it on here. 20 comments and over 1,600 words in seven hours is proof of that, I think.

If you want to come back re this, then please do so in a single piece. Thank you.

If anyone wants to talk about the Inquisition, Mr Sandusky, the education system in Scotland or similar topics, then feel free to pen a piece about it and email it to me at scotslawthoughts at aol dot com (formatted that way to defeat the spambots).

If it meets my standards I will post it, and if it does not, then I will tell you why in an email. (Unlike the Rangers Standard, who did not come back to me directly regarding a piece I submitted there, but I understand that it was not published because I lacked sufficient “moral fibre”. It is their right to publish and not to publish. However, one wonders if making the moral rectitude of the writers a criterion for publication might not cause them problems at some stage. However, that is a problem for them, and not for me.)

Try to keep the “mindless abuse” as referred to in the Sun for elsewhere.

Thank you for reading.


Posted by Paul McConville


NB If you want to read Baxterboy’s comments collated together, you can do so by clicking here. Baxterboy



Filed under Blogging, House Rules, Rangers

179 responses to “My Response to a Prolific Commenter + Some House Rules re Free Speech

  1. Stuart

    The site is dedicated to Paul’s enthusiastic writings on Scots law. It’s major focus has for some time been an analysis of the trials and tribulations of one particular football club. This particular blog is specifically dedicated to House Rules and Paul’s responses to one individual commentator. The regular contributors consist in the main, of one of the most erudite and literate collections of commentators on the web.

    Yet the whole thing still transposes largely into a slanging match about Faith Schools with both sides totally entrenched in their positions. And the majority of the arguments sound so incredibly familiar as rehashes of the ones that I heard 50 years ago.

    Nothing has moved on.

    How utterly depressing!

    • Stuart. I agree.

      The fact that parts of Scotland seemingly still live in 1923 where the Church of Scotland could still publish a pamphlet entitled “The menace of the Irish race to our Scottish Nationality”* is utterly depressing. The references to Taigs, Fenians, the potato famine, on websites, in the streets and in stadia issomething akin to the prejudice against blacks in the Southern States of America (as others have posted vis a vis eduication systems) 50 years ago. And yet rather than move on as the USA has done, Scotland seems to be regressing. Increase in hate crimes, increase in the numbers of marches by anti-Catholic organisations (which now exceed that in the North of Ireland).

      “in the Strathclyde Police region, 73% of all notified processions were in the ‘Orange’ category, 2% in the ‘Catholic’ category and 26% in the ‘Other’ category, whereas in Lothian and Borders Police Force region, 29% were in the ‘Orange’ category, less than 1% in the ‘Catholic’ category and 70% in the ‘Other’ category.” So there are 30x more marches by “orange” organisations (an organisation avowedly anti-Catholic). NB these firgures are 2003 but if anyone has more up to date figures that contradict them (given there were 20 “Jubilee” Orange Marches in Glasgow alone this year), I’m all ears…

      So you are right Stuart – anti-Catholicism has not moved on in 50 years. Iain is wrong it is a probelm in Scotland and it is getting worse according to Govt stats.

      Jockybhoy –Love Scotland, hate bigots.

      • Stuart


        All very true, but I don’t think that it’s the case in this particular argument. Checking out the declarations of belief in the comments above, I don’t see the debate in this blog as being between Catholics and Protestants, it seems to be mainly atheists who are arguing for the abolition of Faith Schools.

        I don’t believe that the atheists are anti-catholic, quite the contrary, but I do believe that the typical atheist’s search for a solution to sectarianism tends to totally pragmatic remedies that make no allowance for religious faith. That’s why they can never be acceptable to the religious majority.

      • thomas cochrane

        some people say they are athiests….i do declare i have never heard so many opiniions from those chaps…….ALL wanting catholic schools closed (because the country cant afford it)would you believe it ……i dont think that i do…….

  2. Paul G

    Why dont we just get rid of football, alcohol and religion its the cause and the solution to all of lifes problems!

  3. Gobsmacked

    Well said.
    It’s a sad indictment of Scottish Society that the joke :

    First Fella : “I’m a Muslim”
    Scotsman : “Aye, but are ye a Catholic Muslim or a Protestant Muslim ?”

    Not really so funny when you think about it !

    Think it was Paddy Ashdown the MP who recalled a similar story as a youth in Scotland. (Budhist whatever not material )

    SSDD for too many people.

    • Stuart

      @ Gobsmacked

      You think it’s a joke? The following is a TRUE excerpt from my interview for my first job in the late 60s.

      Interviewer – “Religion?”

      Me – “Atheist”

      Interviewer – “err… would that be Protestant as opposed to Catholic?”

      At the time I was young and naive enough to think that the interviewer was just a bit dumb.

  4. charliedon

    @ecojon @RayCharles

    Thanks for your replies. I very much appreciate that I am something of an outsider with little personal experience of the particular West of Scotland religious/sectarian issues. However I think my previous post on faith schools might have been misunderstood or perhaps I didn’t make my point clear. I was focusing my post purely on the faith schools issue because that was the point that had been raised and I was adressing it. In no way do I believe that faith schools or organised religion is the root cause of sectarianism and I son’t think I fell into any trap there. I entirely agree with ecojon that sectarian attitudes are born and bred at home and parenting is by far the major factor in perpetuating sectarianism. I also appreciate the potential practical issues of a child having to endure fear, bullying etc at school. That, I think, is a separate problem which ought to be tackled robustly by the authorities. However, given the well documented and serious problems with bigotry and sectarianism in the west, I would still adhere to my opinion that integrated non-denominational schools would be one (small) step in the right direction. I am not suggesting it as a solution to the problem at all – just a start in moving towards a better bigotry-free future. You have to start somewhere or the problem will never improve! I acknowledge the undoubted difficulties in trying to eradicate it from home life. I have only to read some of the postings on rangersmedia to get a handle on the extent of that problem.
    However while I undoubtedly have much to understand about the situation in the west perhaps I can also provide a different perspective to you guys from my experiences growing up in an area where separate religious schooling hardly exists at all.
    RayCharles, I also note your comments about elitist schools and I can only say I agree entirely with what you say in that respect. I’m also interested in your comments about the apparent rise in faith schools, black schools etc. I am having difficulty equating this with society’s general trend toward inclusion and the ongoing fight against discrimination. We are taught not to discriminate, exclude or treat anyone differently on the grounds of race, colour, creed, religion, disability, sexual orientation etc. As the old adage goes, it shouldn’t be the first thing you notice. Yet here we are seemingly setting up separate schools for blacks or religious groups and presumably excluding those not fitting into those specific groupings. This seems to me to be the antithesis of our anti discrimination policies. This kind of segregation isn’t acceptable in the adult world, the workplace etc so I am struggling to understand why it is ok in schools. I just don’t get it.

  5. what schools would the children go to
    a catholic school or a protestant school
    and would the catholic children still be called fenian bs

    • charliedon


      The schools would be non-denominational, not protestant, not catholic, not islamic etc etc. I would be hoping this would eventually discourage the use of sectarian terms like fenian and instead encourage integration and mutual understanding.
      As I say, I would be hoping…..

  6. RayCharles

    September 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    If you want to encourage integration and mutual understanding then I suggest you look at the related dynamics of class, wealth and power.

    Bigotry and racism preceded the development of mass schooling for the working class and to spend your time pontificating about the racial or religious composition of the State schools that educate the masses is a red herring.

    As I have tried to point out, the real issue that should concern people with regard to education is the fact that those with wealth and power can segregate their children within a superior system that helps perpetuates the fundamental economic divisions within our society.

    If you want to get agitated about something to do with education and integration then surely this is the issue that demands attention first and foremost?

    Matters to do with race and religion can only be dealt with in the wake of addressing the fundamentals.

    Religious or black schools are a sideshow. Don’t fret about them.

    Focus on the main event.

    • charliedon


      I still think that either I’m not making myself clear or you’re not reading my posts carefully enough because basically I agree with you.
      I was trying to point out that I had commented on faith schools because that particular subject was being discussed. As I said in my last post, I don’t think faith schools are a main source or cause of bigotry, other factors are far more important, but I am generally opposed to any kind of separation or segregation, not just in faith grounds, in schools.
      Again as I said, I entirely agree with your views on elitist schols etc.

  7. RayCharles

    Sorry if I have not read your posts carefully enough.
    My own views with regard to certain caveats within this whole debate are still “mixed” so it is not surprising that I mix up what you are saying.
    For instance, some teachers present a convincing argument that girls and boys in secondary schools would benefit from learning in separate classrooms. I know this is not what we were discussing but perhaps “separation” within education is not necessarily a bad thing within a capitalistic society. I am still wrestling with such issues.

  8. Saddened Scot

    My comments are not in reply to any previous posts, so no one take offence.

    As the world comes to terms with terrorism, not the old Irish type but the new muslim type and global rescession we still harp on about our wee religous issues, its a joke.

    The more we segregate our kids, the proddies the catholics the jews the muslims etc and bow to each cults beliefs the wider and more dangerous the religous divide will become in the western world. Its about survival for rligion and self interest.

    i am a Rangers supporter who has a divided family, i am also a father and husband in a mixed marrige and have friends on both side of the divide. I also have no real political or religous driver in my life, in other words i care not for the opinions of those who mean nothing to me who live a life of self importance.

    It amounts to nothing more than he said she said and petty arguments between supposed grown ups who want to prove they are better and the other side is worse.

    As the scottish game goes down the drain and we continue to argue and behave like spoilt brats just to prove a point, shame on all sets of fan and those in power who have allowed this to happen.

    Only in Scotland eh.

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