I’m not one to shy away from controversy. And on Christmas as I begin writing this, I think it’s all to more vital to embrace a bit of controversy. Jesus didn’t shy away from controversy, so why should I. If wasn’t obvious, the controversy I’m wading into in is the racism controversy….and specifically I will deal with the recent 8 game suspension of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for the use of racist language on the pitch, and the recent criminal charges brought against Chelsea defender John Terry for alleged racist remarks on the pitch.
I’ve written about racism in this bloog, most recently about the racist taunts hurled on the English team when they visited Bulgaria. Racism among fans is an enormous problem in parts of Europe (and elsewhere as well) where economic marginalization and the resultant lack of opportunity combine with unfamiliarity, xenophobia, idiocy & fucktardary. But that’s still no excuse, of course. That crap has got to end. Somehow and someway.
But I’m not exactly sure if what England is doing about it, recently, is going to advance the cause of ending racism either. Prosecuting John Terry for something he (allegedly) said in the heat of the moment on the field of play? How does THAT advance the cause exactly? John Terry is accused of calling QPR defender Anton Ferdinand a fucking black cunt. There is a video that seems to show John Terry mouthing the words fucking black cunt. But is that really what went down that day ((October 23rd, 2011 at Loftus Road…and yes, John Terry is white and Anton Ferdinand is black for those of you keeping score in Spring Green, Wisconsin))? And if that was what was said, then why didn’t Anton Ferdinand punch (or bitch-slap) that motherfucking white cunt John Terry in the mouth instead of whining about it later? It should have been GO time….fists should have flown…settle it on the field of play. There is no reason, at least from my American perspective, that this should have spilled over into the court system. Lots of shit is said on the field of play, and for the most part, that’s where a most of that trash-talking bullshit should stay.
A few things disturb me about this about this little John Terry matter.
- As I mentioned above, the alleged offense occurred on the pitch during a match in the heat of the battle. If there was any actual harm done, then it should have been handled by the League. Or by the ref. Yellow or Red Card for Unsporting behavior. Chris Foy was at the helm that day, and since he’d already shown red to Drogba and Bosingwa, what’s one more red card. This is what done in pretty much every other sport I know about ((except, obviously, in England)) unless there is actual physical violence involved, and even then there has to be egregious violence…the NHL cases of Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley comes to mind. I’m not certain how or why John Terry’s alleged rhetoric is construed to be a Racially Motivated Public Order Offense, but the Crown Prosecutor for London (the equivalent of yer local District Attorney here in the States) seems compelled to file criminal charges.
- John Terry is being prosecuted for a the alleged of a word. The fervour with which is prosecution is going forward, you’d think John Terry used the word nigger, which would be utterly unacceptable….and being used here by me for review purposes only since I wont pull punches or pretty things up. But that’s not the not word he’s being prosecuted for. He’s being sent up for using the word black, as an adjective. This seems to imply that if John Terry had (allegedly) called Anton Ferdinand a fucking cunt, instead of a fucking black cunt, he would off the hook and all would be perfectly swell in merry old England. But therein lies the problem. It seems to be okay in England to call someone a cunt. A word which is derogatory and demeaning and abusive to women. Prejudice and discrimination toward any group is wrong and should be opposed, but evidently, under English law, Women are left out of the equation. And there is something wrong with the maths here when Racism is not okay but Sexism is. And yes, before you throw it my face, those two fucktards Richard Keys and Andy Grey were thrown off the air for sexist insults toward 2nd official Sean Massey during a live broadcast. But my point is still valid.
It’s apparently alright to to demean the entire race of women, but heaven forbid a black man is called black. Like I said, I’m opening up a whole world of controversy here, probably painting myself into a corner from which there is no escape. It’s not that you call a black man black, it’s how and why. But it’s the point of LAW here that has me a bit stunned and bewildered. English Law, and supposed free speech, and the fact that racial insults trump sexist gender insults. The fact that it’s apparently alright to call someone a cunt, or a fucking cunt. I suppose if John Terry had (allegedly) called Anton Ferdinand a fucking homo, or a fucking faggot, that would have been alright under the laws of England ((but not, of course the laws of the game….but that’s not the issue in the John Terry case)).
Another thing I don’t understand is why John Terry’s case is being prosecuted by the Crown Court, and Luis Suarez’s case was handled by the Football Association which issued an 8 game suspension and fines of £40,000. Luis Suarez’s case might seem a bit more egregious, his use of the word…..
Negrito. The literal translation from Spanish, is Little Negro. But the use of the term, in Spanish, and especially as Spanish is spoken and used in the cultures of South America, it has a range of meanings that are generally far more benign than the literal use of the word. It’s not, semiotically, a racist term for the most part.
Howevah….((in your mind, Stephen A. Smith’s voice should be resonating))…it’s not a word that resonates well in England, or France, where Patrice Evra is from. And thus, during a match between Liverpool and Manchester United, Luis Suarez was lighting up Patrice Evra ((and there’s nothing unreasonable about that…trash talking to yer opponents is part and parcel of pretty much every sport)) by referring to him as Negrito….as in “Hey Little Buddy….” It’s not typically intended to be hateful and evil, and to Suarez and others all over South America, this a fairly common part of the everyday vernacular. Though admittedly, on the soccer pitch, Suarez was using it more like the the guy who can greet you with a smile, shake your hand and stab you in the back with the other, all the while professing: “You are my friend.”
So all this was lost in translation. And all Evra heard was Suarez hassling him all over the pitch ((and not just verbally, Suarez pretty muchpicked Evra’s pocket, stole his lunch money, and tied his shoes together in the 1-1 draw at Anfield October 15th)) and calling him a Little Negro…well, all Evra claims to have heard was Nigger. By the end of it, Evra had had enough and complained to the ref that Suarez was racially abusing him. IF the actions were as egregious as Evra alleges, and if Suarez used the dreaded N word, then why didn’t he bring it up to referee Andre Marriner during the match? Why wait until after the match to report this? Evra has had a history of pulling the race card out when things don’t suit him, and he’s been fines and suspended for making false racial claims in the past.
Suarez would most likely have had this claim swept aside had he not naively and honestly admitted that he did use the word Negrito during the match. This opened the door to an FA investigation. And since no one in the FA understands vernacular Uruguayan Spanish anymore than they understand a Yorkshireman, they called in the experts….the finest Semiotic Linguists and Phenomenological Etymologists. Well no, the FA didn’t actually. Liverpool FC had one on hand but it was for naught. The FA handed down an 8 game suspension, and £40,000 ($63,200) fine. Suarez and Liverpool are appealing the ruling, and WILL be bringing the linguists and etymologists. Suarez, meanwhile continues to play until the charges are upheld or reversed.
Now what I don’t get is that the Crown Prosecutor of Liverpool didn’t file the same charges against Suarez that the Crown Prosecutor of W. London filed again John Terry. I would think that calling someone a Nigger (allegedly) is far more serious Racially Motivated Public Order Offense than calling someone a Fucking Black Cunt (allegedly), wouldn’t you think?
Racism and racial stereotypes abound despite our best efforts. Excruciating Political Correctness is never going to work ((because nothing political is correct)). Lip service, as in the case of FIFA and UEFA won’t get the job done either. And I’m not sure that I’ve contributed much to the efforts here either….although I hope this gets us thinking about the issue and about our own human failings and how we can be better citizens of the world around us. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, intolerance, injustice….all these things we can each do something about in our own way.
What holds us back are political, economic and cultural institutions that keep the core, the kernel, of racism alive. We need to be vigilant and we need to fight, while all the same knowing that our human frailties and failings might leave us short of perfection. I’ve always said that sports can be uplifting, can transcend our differences. The field of play does not, and should not, care about the colour of our skin or the nation or ethnicity of our origins. The scoreboard should tell us all we need to know.
I’ll leave you with a little music from the great Gus Cannon, who wrote a song in 1927 about Booker T. Washington’s trip to the White House for dinner with President Teddy Roosevelt. Seems that some of the other dinner guests mistook Mr. Washington for one of the White House servants.