Why we should continue to rage about Hillsborough after all these years
Anger and blame are rarely applauded.
We're constantly told that forgiveness is a virtue and 'moving on' is the best way of dealing with any simmering anger. It only serves to eat you up inside. Conversely, harbouring any form of contempt is negative and even petty. Life is far too short and it is best to bury the hatchet.
We're also told to stick to the rules and respect our superiors. Certain authorities command a natural level of trust and deference because their whole raison d'être is to keep us safe and well. Without such controls, there is no structure; without structure, there is lawless anarchy.
But what happens when the agents of law and order turn against us? How are we meant to react when the police, the justice system, the government, and fourth estate band together to blame us for a tragedy that they helped to create? Is that a time to simply let bygones be bygones?
On April 26, 2016, the loved ones of 96 people who died at a football match on April 15, 1989 were finally afforded a level of closure. The jury at the Hillsborough Inquest concluded that the victims were unlawfully killed, and that neither they nor their fellow supporters contributed to the tragedy.
There is so much about that day and the aftermath that beggars belief. That incompetent idiots were so negligent in their management of the tragic events; that the first reaction of anyone in any level of senior authority was to cover their own tracks; and that the truth took so long to come out.
The problem with covering any aspect of Hillsborough is that it is a slow and constant disgrace spread over 27 years. As with any major disaster with a lasting legacy, outsiders can become almost desensitised to it as times goes on. It seems awful to say it, but there's almost a numbing effect over time.
But for those directly affected by the tragedy, the fight never ended, nor did the anger subside. There's a tendency to look on those who campaign on behalf of the dead with a level of pity or sympathy, and that is understandable. But more than anything they deserve our admiration for never giving up.
Blame and perception are central to everything that factored into Hillsborough and its despicable aftermath. Football supporters were seen by many at the time as sub-human scum who deserved only contempt and minimal care. Margaret Thatcher's government were open about their disgust.
That Sir Bernard Ingham referred to Liverpool fans as "tanked up yobs" is typical of the prevailing attitudes. And as much as the key mistakes of the day may not have been preemptive in nature or malicious in intent, the sense that football fans were the absolute dregs of society was certainly a factor.
The subsequent cover-up is nothing short of a national disgrace. This was Great Britain at the cusp of the 21st century, not a developing nation in the throes of despot rule. That lie upon lie was spread from the mouths of corrupt cops through vilest avenues of our media can never be forgiven.
Of course, it is important to remember that at the heart of everything is 96 people who went to a game of football and never returned, but sadness and mourning in itself isn't enough. Those who lost their children, siblings, spouses and parents didn't have time to mourn - they were forced to fight for justice.
Again, 'Justice for the 96' can lose its power over time. The full force of its meaning can be dulled with repetition. The vile suggestion that the Liverpool fans somehow 'got what they deserved' demanded correction. A huge part of identifying blame was about officially removing it from the deceased.
Sometimes anger is absolutely necessary, and blame needs to be properly identified. One of the most terrifying aspects of Hillsborough is that it could happen again. Not in the metal cages of a football stadium, but in any other scenario where the powers-that-be have a disdain for members of the public.
Those who were made to fight for so long for justice don't need our pity or sorrow; they deserve our total respect for holding the bastards to account and forcing a truth that never seemed likely.