Many thanks to all who contributed on what became a lively and at times heated discussion on the Ched Evans case the other night. Special thanks goes to all who profoundly disagreed, without whom such an exchange would not have existed.
We've recently had the rather strange case of Dave Whelan, who the FA were satisfied "is not racist" but then found guilty of "making racist comments", an offence for which he has received a six-week ban from 'all football activity'. Whether that expands to playing Football Manager on his PC I don't know, but it's always struck me as a rather curious term to use. First he's quoted as saying that "yeah, Jews probably chase money more than most people" in an interview with the Grauniad, and then, while apologising for the initital faux pas to the Jewish Chronicle, he suggests that "calling a Chinese man a chink is nothing" and "when I was younger, we used to call the local Chinese restaurant Chingalings - we weren't being disrespectful".
It's a massive 'head in hands' moment and the irony of getting yourself in even deeper shit while attempting to issue an apology will not be lost on most of you. Apparently, Whelan employs more than one person as an 'advisor' on business matters and perhaps one of them could have politely 'advised' him to put a sock in it and appear contrite while just saying "sorry, I fucked up" and walking away. It would certainly have saved him a lot of the hassle that followed and I'd love to see a whole transcript of that second interview, just to get an idea of the context in which he thought raising the concept of 'chinks' was a good idea. To paraphrase Jeopardy, what question was 'chinks' the answer to?
Maybe something abour armour, I dunno?
Just rewinding slightly, Whelan had, in the first instance, been defending his appointment of Malky MacKay, who had sent some rather, er, unfortunate correspondence to another Cardiff City employee while he was team manager there.
His utterly moronic hall of shame is as follows:-
On the arrival of South Korean international Kim Bo-Kyung:
"Fkn chinkys. Fk it. There's enough dogs in Cardiff for us all to go around."
On football agent Phil Smith:
"Go on, fat Phil. Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers"
On transfer target list:
"Not many white faces amongst that lot but worth considering."
On a player's female agent:
"I hope she's looking after your needs. I bet you'd love a bounce on her falsies."
On an official at another club:
"He's a snake, a gay snake. Not to be trusted"
To members of Cardiff's staff:
A picture entitled 'Black Monopoly' - where every square was a "Go to Jail" square
I think we can safely conclude from that lot you could stick dynamite in MacKay's ears and do very, very little damage. He may well be missing a chromosome, or has simply been so taken in by the 'muggy bonehead' culture of the sport he's been involved in that he doesn't appreciate his own ridiculousness.
Either way, I'd have no issue with the concept he had just rendered himself unemployable on the basis of utter idiocy.
However, what struck me in the media hysteria that followed was the determination of certain people to contrive a degree of outrage rather than sadness at what MacKay had come out with. No, he wasn't an arsehole, or a man immersed in a dumb and macho soccer culture, but a vicious racist, misogynist and homophobe, an Imperial Wizard in the making. They saw evil intent in every word, even when it was demonstrably the case that his IQ score was probably lower than 46 - the number of games Cardiff would play in a Championship season. From initially thinking he should be put down like a stray dog for his own mercy and then, er, eaten by a Korean, I ended up feeling more than a tad sorry for the poor fella. I mean, "it's not his fault he's a fucking retard" is it?
This current PC craze of finding malicious intent just about everywhere, even when it doesn't exist, has the most unwelcome side-effect of making martyrs of out of morons. I don't want anyone, let alone myself, to feel sorry for an utter knobhead like MacKay or a dinosaur like Whelan, who probably spends half of his time harking back to 'the good old days' when kids walked to school in four miles of snow without shoes, and were beaten to within an inch of their life by their Dad when they got home, just to make sure they didn't misbehave. The other half? Well we know he spends that talking about a broken leg he got in a football match half a century ago, not that he's bitter or anything.
He also claimed, disgustingly and falsely, that the Wolves player 'responsible' had 'done him' deliberately when this is easily disproved by the available video footage. There was an honest attempt to win the ball by two players and, well, shit happens. It was rotten luck for the man, but appeared to be the making of him, and to write that two years after the other player involved had passed away, and so could not defend himself, was a shameful smear on the dead. Then there's the false hope given to fans of Orrell Rugby Union Club, talk of 'sipping champagne in France' followed by the destruction and asset-stripping of that same outfit, leaving them homeless and finished, all to bag Wigan RL (a franchise epitomised by that monumental tosser Maurice Lindsay - another Whelan stooge) a new training ground.
Whelan is clearly a nasty piece of work and, no, I don't like him.
And I didn't even bother to mention the stadium he named after himself...
Take a step back and it's quite apparent that you're dealing with a geriatric muppet who has made no effort to escape the 'deepest, darkest Lancashire' he grew up in during the age of rationing, and an idiot who managed (I'm not quite sure how, but he did) to motivate a bunch of footballers into a monumentally succesful season that saw them promoted from the Championiship. Whelan is clearly banking on that bolt of lightning striking twice. But are they actually bigots? While it's a racing certainty that a bigot will use offensive words to describe people of difference, the mere use of those words does not automatically make one a bigot, does it? It can be based on all sorts of things, sheer stupidity and 'dinosaur syndrome' being amongst the frontrunners in the race. Why is that so hard for some to understand?
Perhaps in that context, they deserve each other?
However, what facts are known point to neither actually having a problem with difference of any sort in real life. Whelan has spent millions of pounds of his own money on non-white and/or foreign players to prop up a team that, let's be honest, would be in the Conference without him, getting turned over by Forest Green while enduring chants of "Springfield Park is falling down". MacKay's Championship-winning squad was a cosmopolitan mix, as most football teams are these days. It's highly unlikely that a 'racist' football manager could motivate and manage players from different environments and cultures to consistent levels of performance over a nine month period. And wouldn't there be stories coming out from ex-players were there anything in the suggestion that MacKay is actually racist?
It just seems to me that people spray words like 'racist' and 'bigot' around a tad too casually these days. If you understand your history you'll know the full connotations of those words and their significance. It strikes me that their use to describe behaviour that is merely stupid as opposed to being driven by ill-intent, cbeapens what should be a strong and (rightly) stigmatising word by definition. Let's be clear - actual bigotry is very, very fucking serious. It has wrecked (and indeed cost) millions of innocent lives. It degrades, it dehumanises, it humiliates and hurts. It really is no light or laughing matter and should not be trivialised by the inclusion of a few moronic text messages and a silly old dinosaur under the same umbrella as apartheid and concentration camps.
Let's just thank the man upstairs (or Richard Dawkins, if you please) there's less of it than there once was.
Take care and I'll catch you soon.