Ignorance is all too common
It seems there is no shortage of ‘look at me’ columnists or radio shock-jocks ready to stick the knife into Liverpool following this week’s events and the fallout from the Suarez-Evra verdict. It was like Christmas had come early, albeit by a few days, with a topic they could talk about from atop their high horses without wasting valuable festive drinking time by bothering to do any research on it.
Some radio guy had a dig at Glen Johnson, who was asked what he thought of the dig by his followers on Twitter. “Who?” tweeted Glen, ending that attempt to wind up to the point of ringing in to argue about it.
Meanwhile in a paper not referred to very often as an example of how to foster multi-cultural toleration someone else Glen Johnson probably hasn’t heard of was having a dig at Kenny Dalglish. Des Kelly of the Daily Mail decided to open his latest column with a suggestion that Kenny, and Andre Villas-Boas, are “dumb”, amongst other little insults.
‘Who is this Des?’ I hear you ask. No idea actually – but he is on the same radio station as the above mentioned shock-jock on Christmas Day. It says so at the bottom of his column. At the top of his column he launches straight into an attack on those managers:
“My new T-shirt should be under the Christmas tree. I’ve asked Santa for one with the silhouette of a Premier League manager on it and the words ‘blind’, ‘dumb’ and ‘irresponsible’ printed underneath.
“It’s my protest against the protests. My stand against the embarrassing displays of boorishness and the idiotic, infantile statements made by men who are certainly intelligent enough to know better. Men like Kenny Dalglish and Andre Villas-Boas, for instance.”
This page has no real desire to defend or attack Andre Villas-Boas today, so we’ll just continue like he didn’t get a mention, that Kelly’s words were aimed at Kenny rather than both managers. He went on: “Shamefully, [Kenny’s] reaction to racism scandals involving players at [his] club has served to demonstrate football stands shoulder-to-shoulder in any campaign to eradicate racism within the game – unless it might inconveniently involve one of [his] own.”
It’s not clear if Des reckons Kenny has double standards or if football has double standards. Either way, he says that if it’s one of Kenny’s players involved in a “racism scandal” then Kenny’s reaction is to refer to it as “a witch-hunt, political posturing, a co-ordinated vendetta or the result of some other cockamamie conspiracy theory.”
Perhaps the pre-Christmas mince pies in Des’s office had been laced with something for the road this week. Failing to recognise (or read, probably) the references in Liverpool’s statement as to why they found the decision so surprising and so disappointing he chose the lazy route of a quick rant without checking his facts: “Principles that should be enshrined for the greater good of the game are trampled underfoot in the mad rush of tribalism. What on earth were Liverpool Football Club thinking when they traipsed out in those pathetic screen-printed tops in support of Luis Suarez this week?”
Kelly hasn’t seen the written reasons for the verdict and probably wouldn’t have read them anyway had they been issued this week. Instead he’s based his opinion on what he’s heard discussed elsewhere and it’s likely he’s heard wrong: “The Uruguayan had been banned… for calling Patrice Evra a ‘little black man’ during a squabble on the pitch.”
No “allegedly”, or “it is believed”, or anything else that shows there is still no on-record statement on exactly what he said. Kelly just comes straight out with a bold claim for which he will have no evidence whatsoever.
“Suarez himself admitted he made the remark, yet argued it would be considered inoffensive in his native South America.” Suarez has not gone on the record outside of that FA process to say what he’d said to Evra. He has said that he said something he felt was inoffensive, but Kelly knows as much as the rest of us as to exactly what that was and whether or not this was what the panel punished him for.
Kelly seems to be enjoying this: “So what [if it is considered inoffensive in South America]? Ignorance isn’t a justifiable defence and saying ‘little black man’ is not a purely descriptive phrase, as some at Liverpool have laughably attempted to argue.”
Some at Liverpool? Who at Liverpool? Who at Liverpool has Des Kelly heard saying that ‘little black man’ is a ‘purely descriptive phrase’?
The phrase, which he is speculating on being the one used, “is a remark designed to belittle and demean and, in that context, it is racist language,” he says.
Whatever phrase Suarez used he clearly did not think it was offensive. People will argue all day about whether that’s a valid excuse but even Evra and The FA (according to LFC’s statement) say they don’t think Suarez is racist.
Ignorance isn’t a justifiable defence, he says. In 2008 Des Kelly had this to say:
“Isn’t it time to move on from this pointless indignation about the word ‘pikey’? Preferably without leaving behind an empty Calor gas cylinder and a pile of litter in some field.
“There are people out there who actually believe this was somehow ‘racist’. The word [pikey] has nothing to do with race.
“Obviously it is derogatory, but it refers to the traveller community. This is not some genetic or ethnic grouping, but a collective way of life. To consider pikey a racial slur is as stupid as believing the word ‘hippy’ has racist connotations, or that ‘hoodie’ is offensive.”
Funnily enough (well, not funny, but you get the idea) he’s got this wrong too. Ignorance? Five minutes of research would have told him this:
“Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are legally recognised as ethnic groups, and protected from discrimination by the Race Relations Act (1976, amended 2000) and the Human Rights Act (1998).”
What’s his excuse for not knowing this? Remember, in his own words, “ignorance isn’t a justifiable defence.”
So what was his defence for attacking a legally recognised ethnic group? Why did he want to do it anyway? Maybe this is a clue:
“Ban pikey, and then you might as well outlaw chav, townie, trailer trash, Hooray Henry, goth, Sloane, tinker and many more fairly innocuous labels. The plus side is there would be no way to describe the Big Brother contestants other than as morons.
“The downside is our language would take another step towards politically correct tedium.
“Besides, how will I describe the woman who attacks me with a pin and ‘lucky’ heather at every big race meeting, whether or not I want acupuncture? I suppose she becomes a Mobile Shrub Opportunity Facilitation Sales Officer.”
Not everyone sees a problem with indiscriminately attacking members of the travelling community, perhaps not everyone realises the legal recognition mentioned in the Acts above. Is ignorance an excuse or not then?