There are many David Limonds

I wrote last month that I hoped that Sheriff Pattison would send out a strong message to people like Mr David Limond.

He has.

The courts exist to deal with people like Limond and his day of reckoning was a long time coming.

He probably felt he would podcast his racist hatred with impunity and I trust now that he knows that he was mistaken in that assumption.

After I published my piece following his conviction last month, I was contacted by a person in the USA about Limond.

The writer claimed that he had forced her and her friends to shut down a small social networking site because of his persistent trolling and abuse.

I have no way of ascertaining whether or not these allegations regarding Mr Limond are true.

However, on Saturday the Daily Record had a follow up story on Limond and it focused on his alleged abuse of a woman in the USA, with whom he had briefly co-habited two years ago, and her mother.

I hope that all right-thinking people in Scotland will rest a little easier in the knowledge that Mr Limond’s career as an online harasser is almost certainly over.

However, when he was sentenced last Thursday there was instant sympathy for him on social media from people of an Ibrox persuasion.

One chap was even moved to write “we are all David Limond”. You may very well say that, I on the other hand couldn’t possibly comment.

These valued customers of the Sevco franchise did not appear to have any notion that what Mr Limond did to Angela Haggerty was wrong in any way.

The Press Gazette, in a follow up piece to their original report, shared with the world the wisdom of these chaps as they eloquently mused on matters of jurisprudence and morality.

I understand that the journalist who interviewed Ms Haggerty has passed details of these fine fellows to the police.

Any attempt to construct a narrative that Mr Limond was somehow a unique individual and entirely unrepresentative of a subculture that gathers around the Ibrox match day experience is utterly risible.

There are many David Limonds and the only matter for debate is the exact number.

He is the product of a belief system that self-defines through expressions of anti-Irish racism and an EDL type pride in Britain’s martial past.

Although this is a personal calamity for Mr Limond I hope that it may point to a change in how official Scotland views anti-Irish racism in the future.

Despite the best efforts of some elements of the mainstream media north of the border to shoe horn this story into the sectarian framework, Sheriff Pattison made it quite clear that Limond was also guilty of racism.

As ever, Roy Greenslade in the Guardian saw the significance of this.

The Press Gazette, also London based, reported the case with a precision of language and clarity of understanding generally lacking in Scotland apropos this issue.

Angela Haggerty, by her own statement, is proud of her Irish heritage.

Moreover, she referenced Sheriff Pattison’s comments in her statement to the media about Limond’s racism.

She re-stated this in her interview with the Sunday Herald.

It was highly encouraging to see the term “anti-Irish racism” in the headline of a major Scottish newspaper.

The significance of this change to the accepted lexicon was not lost on Roy Greenslade.

I will not rehearse the background to the Limond case and my own part in it as the author of a book Mr Limond apparently took some exception to in 2012, as I laid those points out in some detail last month when he was convicted.

Sheriff Pattison has done the state some service.

Anti-Irish racism is undoubtedly alive in modern Scotland and it can be found on podcasts, in pubs, in taxis and indeed anywhere that people of Mr Limond’s ilk gather.

The judiciary has stepped up, but the law makers in the legislature need to re-examine their policy paradigms.

When anyone at Holyrood is asked about anti-Irish racism they usually respond with scripted homilies about ‘combatting sectarianism’.

However, ethnic minorities in Scotland who are historically associated with the Catholic faith, like the Italians, have been afforded cultural space to be themselves.

The infamous Church and Nation Committee report of 1923 made it clear that the Reverend John White and his Christian colleagues had no issue with Highland Catholics as they were “of the same race”.

These men of the cloth were perplexed by the Irish as an ethnicity, not by an influx of ‘Papists’ per se.

The belief system that nurtured Mr Limond has a long history in Scotland, but thankfully it no longer has official approbation.

Faced with this decaying paranoid subculture, it is important that people in positions of responsibility act with good authority.

Once more, the National Union of Journalists, of which Ms Haggerty is a member, has not been found wanting in defending journalists and journalism.

The social poison of racism that Mr Limond gave voice to on his podcast can only be defeated by brave journalists calling out those who commit hate crimes.

Any democratic society with silenced journalists, whether it is through fear or craven venality, is in grave danger.

Anti-Irish racism in contemporary Scotland is an enduring stain on an otherwise fair minded and tolerant nation.

It has deep historical roots, but that is no reason for it to be tolerated in the 21st century.

Not many countries, in the history of ideas and learning, have been as publicly associated with broad mindedness and rational thought as Scotland.

Mr Limond is the antithesis of the Scottish Enlightenment, but the reasoning of Sheriff Pattison would be recognised by David Hume.

The atavistic and irrational hatred of Irishness that motivated David Limond should have no hiding place in modern Scotland.

There would be no need to write this were he not representative of a subculture in Scotland that a substantial number of people identify with.

I can only hope that as the heavy doors clanged shut behind him last week that he started to open his mind.

If he can do that then he may be able to explore why he became the obsessed and abusive person that he was on the Rangers chat podcast.

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