The Danger of Mob Mentality

Gary Glitter once asked if we wanted to be in his gang, I think we can safely assume that the waiting list for membership of that particular club isn’t exactly overflowing. Child rape aside though, the despicable cunt makes a valid point. As human beings we strive for the acceptance of a gang, for the safety offered by a tribe.

Returning all the way back to the birth of the species we have always been pack animals. Belonging to a tribe offered protection from the predators that roamed the land, it enabled you to hunt and more importantly, it enabled you to fuck.

Being part of a pack is quite clearly one of humanities baser instincts; it is almost animalistic in its nature. It derives from a time when we were not assured of our place at the top of the food chain.

Our species however has evolved since those perilous times; we are now indisputably the rulers of this planet, no matter what science fiction tells us we will not be overthrown by a new master race of ‘super monkeys’ or ‘giant ants’. The need for the many to come together, to pool their collective might in the name of survival is no more. We should really have moved past the need to be part of a gang.

Thing is though we haven’t, there are at least two instances in which gang culture is still prevalent in modern society. The gang still rules in the impoverished, deprived inner-cities ghettos that shame our rich nation, and of course, what could be more tribal than supporting a football team?

I have no intention of discussing inner-city gang culture, my relatively comfortable village upbringing would ensure that no matter what I said I’d come across as an irredeemable wanker (or even worse be confused with a Guardian Comment is Free writer). I do however have pretty extensive knowledge of utter “bawbaggery” amongst football supporters; it is to that then that I turn my ire.

People who attend football matches are no better and no worse than any other cross-section of society (well maybe politicians, lawyers and people who invade my personal space in the supermarket, but you know what I mean). However there is a (growing?) tendency for these usually decent individuals to turn into utterly despicable fuckwits when part of the mob that is a football crowd.

Examples you say? Where are the fucking examples? Well there are plenty you impatient cunt.

I am a Celtic fan, and have been in the crowd when many a (admittedly quite catchy) song has been belted out glorifying the IRA. Which when it boils down to it is a terrorist organisation, guilty of the murder of innocent men, women and children. I do not believe for a minute that all those joining in a chorus of ‘Ooh Ah Up the Ra’ genuinely support the methodology, never mind the ideology of the militant faction of the Irish Republican movement. In fact I’m pretty sure that in the context of their everyday existence they would probably opine that terrorism isn’t a particularly nice thing. But put them in the centre of a baying, swaying mob and all reason goes out the window, swiftly followed by the notion of individual thought. Likewise the vast majority of the Rangers support harbour no genuine ill feelings toward Catholics, yet put a few of them together and pretty soon they’ll be singing about being knee deep in ‘Fenian blood’. Which I think we can all agree is really quite nasty.

Along the same lines, I can say with a degree of confidence that there aren’t many individual West Ham fans who subscribe to the ‘Hitler was right’ theory, however for some reason when collected together and faced with their (traditionally Jewish) rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, a not inconsiderable number of them feel it’s appropriate to make audible reference to Nazi death camps.

I mean can we just take a moment to think about that? The holocaust, the fucking holocaust, one of the darkest hours in all of human history, and people are singing about it at a football match. That’s so far from being acceptable I think my head is going to fall off.

There’s plenty more instances of this staggering level of awfulness, from Hillsborough to Munich via Istanbul, rounded off with a good old dose of homophobia. The savage hatred of the mob is genuinely frightening. No subject it appears is off limits.

A great mind once said something along the lines of “a person is clever, people are stupid” (or maybe I made that up, or is it from Men In Black?). That (mis)quote is pretty much my point in a fucking nutshell.

Football fans on their own, are in the main not awful people, stick them into a crowd however, allow the mob mentality to overwhelm them, and more often than not it’s an entirely different story.

It is at this point I should be putting forward my cure for this cancer on the game, my radical solution to make football a better place. Problem is though I don’t have one, and neither does anyone else. The only thing I can suggest is that everyone just chills the fuck out, remembers that football is meant to be fun and that no matter what anyone says it’s just a fucking game.

If I can offer one piece of advice it is this, if you are at a football match and you are singing about genocide, or terrorism, or just plain old killing, then the chances are you’ve crossed a line somewhere. I hope that’s clear.

If you’d like to come and say hello to me on twitter that’d be very nice. Thanks.

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