For the non football readers among my readers, English and Chelsea footballer John Terry was up in court recently for allegedly making the racist remark - f****** black, c***. It's with deep irony that the word which landed Terry before the courts was the one word I haven't removed - the word 'black'.
Nobody on the football field at the time heard the comment, even the player it was allegedly directed to. The trial only came about because of an off-duty copper who lip-read the comment on tv.
During the trial, at tax payers' expense, we subsequently had another English footballer; Rio Ferdinand - who understandably takes the issue of racism seriously - giving a running twitter account verdict of the 5 day trial, oblivious to the fact that Mr Terry is and was innocent and entitled to a fair trial.
When the verdict was returned, i.e. it couldn't be proved beyond reasonable doubt, Mr Ferdinand decided to endorse a racially-loaded term regarding the witness for the defence Mr Ashley Cole (who's black) 'choc ice. A term that is universally understood to mean 'black on the outside, white on the inside'. Unsurprisingly someone has complained:
A possible racist comment made against Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole is being investigated by Derbyshire Police.
A Twitter user, believed to be from Derbyshire, referred to Mr Cole as a "choc ice" on the social networking site over the weekend.
Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand then replied: "I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic hahahahahaha!!"
A Derbyshire Police spokeswoman said the force had received complaints "regarding alleged racist comments".
"These concerns will be fully investigated to establish whether any criminal offences have been committed," the spokeswoman added.Obviously this brings up the legitimate criticism, or observation, of who draws the line with free speech and where to draw it. Once lines get drawn, anomalies appear left, right and centre. Be careful Mr Ferdinand for what you wish for - getting one of your own Twitter followers into trouble.
And it's precisely this culture that closes down debates such as immigration al la the excellent post from Witterings from Witney:
Challenges seem all the rage nowadays, what with Cameron receiving a hand delivered letter from the leader of a ‘political party’ (well, they consider themselves a political party hence my use of the term in inverted commas) challenging him to a debate on Britain’s relationship with ‘Europe’. Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph, wishes to challenge anyone to a debate on the subject of immigration, but as one commentor – Davy – points out:Mr Ferdinand defends himself by calling the usage of 'choc ice' a way of criticising someone of being fake - on those terms I would apply it to Dan Hodges - someone who pretends to want a debate on unlimited immigration but has absolutely no intention of following through with his 'wishes'...
“You want a debate about immigration? Me too. Bring it on. Just as an observation, Dan, you’ve got the best part of sixty comments already and you haven’t engaged with any of them. If you say you want a debate, you’ve got one below. Step up, eh?”And there we have another democratic failure when considering the state of our democracy. It is so easy for politicians to state that this country should remain in the EU as it is for ‘journalists’ to challenge anyone to a debate on immigration – and then to totally ignore the cries for a debate.