Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Freedom Of Speech Only For The Hardest

Over at the Guardian there's a discussion of how much abuse is too much for a footballer. The general rule seems to be if you're being racist or homophobic you've definitely gone too far (and if you're being both then you're probably a Spurs fan abusing Sol Campbell - and, yes, saying you'd like to see a black man hanging from a tree is racist).

Some ask if we should chant abuse at footballers at all. In a perfect society, probably not, but it doesn't help that you can imagine these vocally abused footballers crying themselves to sleep every night on a huge pile of money.

One commonplace is this sort of comment:

In my view the standard for any reasonable human being (OK that excludes quite a few fans I grant you) should be that anything you say whilst sitting/standing anonymously (cowardly even) amongst thousands of your ilk, you should also be prepared to say to the target of your views if you were face to face with him in the street whilst accompanied by your mother and your small child and what you say/do is not going to get you arrested.

Which, to me, suggests that if you are a sociopath or psychopath, or perhaps just hard and uncaring[1], then your range of free speech is much greater than the normal person. This doesn't seem right.

Personally, I don't care about bad language that much. It's an intensifier. Surely if you're calling some one "useless" or a "useless prick", say, it should be the "useless" part that hurts. If you are just shouting "prick" at a footballer, then perhaps it is time to reconsider (unless you're shouting it at the disappointing Harry Kewell, in which case go right ahead).

[1] Actually, it occurs to me that if I told some footballers what I thought of them to their face, my mother might join in.

No comments: