Tuesday, 25 October 2011

QPR v Chelsea: John Terry You ******* White ****, You ********

I'm not sure where I stand on this one to be honest. Leave out the word black and what Terry is alleged to have said to Anton seems fair enough to me. Even when he wore a West Ham shirt, many Hammers fans would have agreed with Terry's character appraisal of a guy who is certainly an A1 twat at times.

So, why does the word black suddenly make it so terrible? Because it is racist apparently. But if Terry had called Anton a "Black genius" would that be racist? Is it racist to say "Black footballer" or "Black politician" or "Black cleric"? I'm pretty certain that black is still used as an adjective to designate somebody with what is thought of as "black" skin, albeit skin is rarely, if ever, truly black. What about the MOBO awards? Why is it acceptable to offer awards for music of black origin exactly? Can you imagine the outrage if we had MOWO awards, and excluded black artists in this way?

Turn it around, if somebody called Terry a "fcuking white cnut" would that be deemed racist? Surely the offence is in all the words other than the word designating colour, rather than the black or white word itself?

Now I accept that context is all here, but that is what Terry is arguing as his defence isn't it? And, as unpopular as this may be, I do think context is crucial. Last night, after he lost possession and didn't back track, I yelled, "Get back Faubert you lazy French bastard!" Now I accept that in cold print that could be deemed racist, but one of my best friends is French (God isn't that the standard defence? - But it is true!) and I have enjoyed many wonderful holidays in France. Thiery Henry is one of my favourite ever players (even after that hand ball against Ireland) and I was cheering on France against New Zealand in the rugby World Cup final.

The point is, in the heat of the game, I yelled out something I would not say ordinarily. It was not intended as a slur on all French people, it was a verbal attack on Faubert who happens to be French - although I accept that the fact he is lazy conforms to a stereotype about the French. But if he was Trojan, I would have called out "Get back Faubert you lazy Trojan bastard!" irrespective of the claim that somebody "works like a Trojan"! I wasn't thinking stereotypes, I wasn't thinking at all, I was exploding in ire - just like Terry on Sunday.

This is not a defence of racism nor is it a personal defence for a man who, for the most part, I find loathsome, but it is a plea against hypocrisy and over reaction. If Terry is a racist, then I'm sure Ashley Cole will tell us. But Terry is a popular captain in a multiracial Chelsea dressing room isn't he? So how can a few angry words in the heat of battle contradict this? Tell me, what was worse, Terry's angry words or Drogba's two footed tackle? I know that if my livelihood depended upon it, I would prefer to be verbally abused rather than see Drogba flying into me in a potential career ending two footed challenge. So why the silence on Drogba's challenge and the fuss about John's Terry's ill advised combination of words.

When I was little I was taught "Sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you". We know now that this is untrue, but  "A Drogba two footed tackle may break your bones and names on a football pitch can't hurt you that much" remains true when we are talking adults. The Suarez case is totally different. If he did use the N word repeatedly against Evra then the FA should throw the book at him. If Terry had used the N word instead of black, there could be no defence in my book. But as things stand, I believe people are making a mountain out of a hillock. If the allegations are true, Terry should apologise and we should move on. That would be the adult and mature response. To involve the police is bloody stupid. Arrest Drogba for attempted GBH first!


Stani said...

What garbage HF!

Hammersfan said...

A predictable response from you Stani. Explain why.

Anonymous said...

You should stick to blowing bubbles mate , because your conceptional continuity is pathetic.
If you need me to explain this let me know

Anonymous said...

my wife is black and she is very annoyed when people AVOID using the word black to describe her since it makes it appear as if something is "wrong" with being black

totally agree with comments about MOBO awards

Anonymous said...

I agree with your thinking. Well written!

Stani said...

I gave you the title of a book to read months ago. You've clearly not read it. Put those fairy tales down and read some real books.

Once again you demonstrate your surprising lack of wisdom and foresight for a man of your age.

Hammersfan said...

Don't give me books to read, set out the counter argument on this particular case!

Hammersfan said...

1858, go ahead!

Stani said...

Hahaa, you sound like 16:00 from the previous post HF!

Anonymous said...

What a crock !!

Terry made a racial slur .. what has colour got to do with the character of a man ..

The MOBO awards do not exclude artists on race

Jessie J won four awards this year .. and she's white

Hammersfan said...

Recent innovation because the point was being made about hypocrisy with MOBOs.

Why was it a racial slur? Would it be a racial slur if the word white were used?

QPRfan said...

Either I am getting used to you or your articles regarding QPR (or its players) have less b******s in it.You do have a fair point for this article, mate. Being b*cough*coloured it annoys me that the word 'black' is seen as a racist term. Its not like he was called a n*****.

B4V4R14N_H4MM3R said...

Last night I also sweared as hell when I was watching the game, although I'm quite sure I didn't racially abused the players I yelled at. It's nothing personal I just needed to blow off steam, like John Terry.

I mean, I am definitely against the n-word and other similar offensive insults. But sometimes it seems to me people feel offended with the slightest hint of discrimination. It doesn't matter if it's in their eyes a prejudice, racist, sexist or anything else. To me that political correctness is very often just hypocritical - nothing else.

btw. who says John Terry's abuse wasn't directed to the ref ? Chris Foy's performance was pretty doubtable that afternoon. As we all know the ref is the man in black.

Hammersfan said...

I said it wasnt antiQPR mate. But QPR's complaint is out of order, particularly with Warnock and Barton on the books! Fernandes inspired perhaps?

Anonymous said...

This is just stupid. Its racist because of the aggresion and context in which its used. Like you say, using the word black i.e perhaps saying "the black fella" or something whilst pointing out an individual in a predomenently white crowd is not racist. Yet calling someone a black **** as Terry (clearly from the tv camera's)has as part of an insult suggest he clearly thinks that there is something wrong with being black and is therefore bringing race into the equation and is therefore racially insulting Ferdinand.

Hammersfan said...

From what I know, Terry likes Cnuts! That just shows how the words used shouldn't be taken literally. I doubt he fancies putting his Kerry Dixon into Anton, but he's happy to dip it into any other cnut available! Ask Wayne Bridge!

Rab said...

I wonder what book Stani recommended you read. I wonder was it Edward Said's Orientalism?

The reasons why so many sensitivities are engaged (and enraged) when a white man calls a black man names and refers to either colour or race is because of the history of racial slavery, exploitation and discrimination. None of this is your fault, my fault or John Terry's for that matter, but it's a legacy we're stuck with and it behooves us all to be conscious of it.

For this reason, you calling Faubert a 'French cnut' is extraordinarily rude whatever the circumstances - even the heated atmosphere of a match - but historical relations between England and France mean that name calling between their respective citizens isn't as potentially explosive as between people of different races. Also being French is not a racial designation. Neither is being English for that matter despite the attempts of some right-wing demagogues to assert the idea.

But here's a novel idea. Why should abusive, threatening behaviour or language be tolerated at football in whatever form it takes. Last week I was at parents evening for the football team that my 8 year old plays for. The team's coaches appealed to parents to moderate their behaviour when watching from the touchline. I was surprised that they needed to make this point. But they did. Because some grown-ups think that abusing referees, coaches, opponents and their own children during a match is OK. What sort of example does this set to young footballers? Why do we think it is acceptable or understandable to behave at football matches in ways we'd be embarrassed by at any other time?

I don't want to take my 8 year old and 5 year old to a match to have them witness someone being verbal abused by players or fans.

I don't mean to trivialise issues of racial abuse and I know I'm inviting the well-worn response from some that football's football, and if you don't like the atmosphere, then sod off. But for me there is a deeper issue about what is acceptable behaviour at football, on and off the pitch. I understand that emotions run high during a match but is it ever OK to call someone a sports man or woman a cnut? Isn't that a term best reserved for some of our politicians and bankers, in any case? I mean, let's keep a little perspective here: taking a poor free kick is one thing, sinking the global economy and making the poor pay for it is another... but I digress.

Hammersfan said...

Rab, I called him a lazy French bastard, I don't uuse the cnut word. I am well aware of the history, but it is history. We have moved on and JT was not thinking slavery when he said what he said.

Thing is, football is a game of passion isn't it? Some of the stuff yelled on the terraces is disgusting and I have complained to stewards about racism at both Stamford Bridge and Wembley, but that was foul stuff. Had he used the N word, I would would feel outrage but he didn't. It was an angry exchange and the word black was the least offensive word!

Stevo said...

An insult is an insult any way you look at it, if you have a go at someone or let off steam why relate to the colour of a persons skin or their nationality if someone is a useless or lazy sod say so! We do not need to quantify the statement any further.

Hammersfan said...

We don't need to, but we don't PLAN what we are going to say do we? Terry wasn't writing a script, he was letting off steam in the heat of a passionate game!

Rab said...

I know that you're aware of racial history, which in away is why, in a way I'm surprised by what you've written here.

Anton may be a cnut, but his colour is irrelevant. I could say that John Terry is a 'wnaker' which might be bad enough (or fair enough).Indeed, if I called him an 'English wnaker' that might be alright as well, until you hear my accent, which is a Belfast accent. Then suddenly the insult takes on all sorts of other connotations, doesn't it? We're back to history again.

I don't think there is any getting away from the fact that we are historical subjects. We can't shrug off the past as if it somehow doesn't apply to us, as if it doesn't frame and shape the contemporary world we live in an the social relationships within it.

Hammersfan said...

But it wouldn't be a major issue would it Rab? I'm sure Roy keane called a few opponents English bastards. They would have shrugged it off.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I disagree with you here. He could have said "you f***ing c**t" and no-one would have said a thing,but he brought colour into it. Why? Something similar happened a few years back at White Hart Lane where he said something similar to Ledley King, but it was swept under the carpet because he was the new England captain.

Rab said...

I don't know whether Keane did or not. The point stands that it's not just an insult, it's an insult which employs a history of national/racial antagonism to verbally abuse and injure.

But I think that the kind of public debates that these sorts of incidents give rise to always generate more heat than light.

In a way the real issue is this: there is no such thing as race. There are only ways of thinking about race and talking about race. Racial categories are not natural to humans or human society. They were invented for particular ends. Those ends are to offer ideological justification to discriminating and exploitative practices. In short, if you're going to build an empire, colonise other countries and enslave people, then you need a rationale for your assumption of superiority, and racism provides that. You take a set of physical differences and ascribe meanings to them that inferiorize the other person.

So if there is no such thing as race, only ways of thinking about it and talking about it, then when John Terry called Ferdinand a 'black cnut' he was clearly thinking about race on some level (and certainly talking about it.

Hammersfan said...

Was he thinking of female genitalia when he said it? Of course not! They were words of anger, spilling forth in a stressful situation.

If an Irishman called me an English Cnut, I would take offence at the second word, not the first, not least because I am proud of being English. Call me an East End Cunt (as a Scouser once did) and I will have no issue with the words East End - again I am proud of my roots - but I certainly took issue with being called a cnut. Spurs fans have called me a Pikey Cnut on here. So what? They look idiots for doing so, not me.

It is as if "black" is an insult. It isn't. Cnut is, black isn't! Does the use of the word Cnut mean that Terry is referencing the centuries of male domination of women, using the female sexual organ as an insult, thereby objectifying women sexually and reaffirming their subordination to men? What bollocks! Except I am now objectifying men!

They are words. Words. Words said in anger. Words framed by stress. We have again lost sight of the Drogba lunge! A sense of perspective is needed here!

Stani said...

I refuse to believe you are this blinkered HF.

Rabs, the book was The Everyday Language of White Racism, Jane H. Hill

Hammersfan said...

So Stani, make the counter argument. Rab has. I don't agree with him but he has.

Hammersfan said...

Stani, I will take that book apart chapter by chapter, especially in relation to Mr Terry. How about this from Cahpter 2? "Most white Americans have little social contact with people of colour." What cobblers! Have you ever been to the States? Dear God, they now have a black President! As for Mr Terry, he shares a bath with black players, and may even have spit roasted a girl with one of his black team mates! He socialises with black players all the time, and they respect him as their captain!

Anonymous said...

Shurrup honkey

Hammersfan said...

The book is linguistic and semantic claptrap mate. Like the objections to a Standard form of a langauge. That has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with the need for common standards. Why have spelling rules? Why bother with grammar? Why not use any word that comes into your head to describe something? Why shouldn't I call a dog an elephant and expect everybody to understand that I mean a dog when I say elephant? The reason is obvious!

So, if I interview a candidate I will expect him to use Standard English for the most part, and when reading a CV, I expect it all to be in Standard English. So, if you want to get a job from me, you had better use Standard English correctly! It won't matter if you are black or brown or white. If a white cockney geezer wants to pronounce his th as f, he aint (irony intended - aint is fine on here) going to be employed by me. In fact, I declined to interview a candidate for that very reason. I explained that I was from the East End but that I had worked on my voice and accent and would expect all cockneys to do so if they want to succeed in a professional environment. He was white. An Asian candidate got the job by the way!

Hammersfan said...

Oh God Stani, the more I read, the more I want to wretch. How have you been duped by this 69 year old guilt ridden Upper Middle Class white racist, expiating her racist past by writing self flagellating garbage to make amends for all her wicked thoughts about "people of color"? (sic). You do surprise me at times mate, for an intelligent guy, you don't half swallow crap!

Deane said...

context it's all about context

Anonymous said...

Calling them black, white, French, English whatever its not racist its describing who they are. Completely agree with the MOBO comments if there was a white artist awards it would get shot down straight away. Shouldn't people be proud of who they are and if they are called any of the above, stand proud and say yea thats me and i am proud of it. You cant change who u are so be proud whatever colour or race.

TurdsOut! said...

White artists are not excluded from the Mobo's.

I think you'll also find JT mother is thief, his father a coke dealer - so therefore it doesn't take a huge leap of faith to conclude that he is highly likely to be a scum bag.

I think you'll also find there's been more than one other occasion where JT's stand on racism has been called in to question.

I trust the police throw the book at him.

Anonymous said...

Spit roasted? you sir are a scoundrel of the highest order, is it supposed to be amusing to use the common parlance of the gutter snipe? Would it be so amusing were it to happen to your daughter?

I've always suspected you of being a died in the wool racist and there's nothing I've read from you today that leads me to think otherwise.

Hammersfan said...

Not now, but they were TO! Where have you been? Good to have you back!

Just because JT's family are scum, it doesn't mean he is a racist does it?

Not much point in throwing the book at John Terry - he aint going to read it, is he?

TurdsOut! said...

hahaha very true.... I find in life that scum bags are usually uneducated which more often than not leads to racist views.

Stani said...

Why do you let the nuances of things escape you HF?

The problem with you is that you're very quick to form an opinion...you're not a ponderer or a great thinker. On its own, that's not so bad, but you're also a stubborn so and so. Those two things do not make a good combination.

How did you get hold of the book so quick? You don't own a kindle do you? Struth!

Would you employ me HF?

Stani said...

Turds, I've made the facebook page mate. When I do the first post I'll add the link here

Rab said...

This reply is a high risk strategy, on account of the fact that I've drunk a bottle of wine (it's been that type of day). But throwing caution to the wind... here goes.

Terry didn't merely call Fedinand 'black' (in itself not an insult) nor did he just call him a 'cnut' (general considered a derogatory term for female genitalia - except by Germaine Greer who briefly tried to appropriate the term for feminists). Terry called Ferdinand a 'black cnut' and used it as an insult.

I think Terry employed 'black' as an insult because he uses it to prefix 'cnut' in the insult delivered to Anton Ferdinand. You are assuming that he used black as a descriptive term and therefore no racist insult was intended.

I'll concede that only John Terry knows whether he intended to racially abuse Ferdinand but don't you think that to prefix the word 'cnut' with 'black' is at best insensitive/ignorant and at worst can be conceived of as down-right racist?

Hammersfan said...

Missing the point a bit Rab. My point is that ALL the words were disconnected from their literal meaning. We could get into semiotics here and talk about a division between the signifier and the signified and therefore a misinterpretation of the overall sign. (Drink more wine mate!) Terry intended to sign anger and selected signifiers (words and body language) to convey that anger. In his subconscious he understood that black would be accepted as a signifier of anger by Anton, but that does not mean that he intended it, at a conscious level, as a signifier of racism. In fact, knowing the potential consequences, Terry would have avoided any deliberate signifier of racism at all cost. Meanwhile Anton may not even have heard "black", there were all sorts of signifiers of anger and hatred without this - facial expression, threatening posture, abusive words. Whereas Suarez may have been deliberately racist, Terry was, at worst, accidentally so in my opinion - he spewed out words without conscious association with their literal meaning. Does that make sense?

By the way, if talking dirty to a black woman, would you avoid the term black cnut for fear of being racist? The problem of literal interpretations mate!

Stani said...

Is that Diaby by the way? Lucky bar steward!

HF, Rab is right. Don't make me pick the holes in your bonkers argument. I'm a busy man these days, as you may have noticed.

Stani said...

Looks like Terry's getting buggered! Not only was he racist, but he's then gone and lied about it! And why did he feel he needed to lie HF? Because he knew he was being racist! So you can try defend if you want, it's pretty clear what's happened.

Well done Anton for being brave and standing up to this racist scumbag

Mike said...

John Terry's track record doesn't leave much room for maneuver when placing an opinion on his decision making.

As a knee jerk reaction, I'd be inclined to suggest his insult hurled at Anton was indeed racist. There are a host of prefixes he might have deployed other than 'black' to similar effect. In choosing that particular one, he seems to me to have wanted to cause the most amount of verbal harm to his opponent.

Just letting off steam? As I said, a hundred other words he could have used. It seems too drenched in malice to be simple anger/frustration.

That said, I must confess that I hadn't given it as much thought as some of the commentators on here have. I mean, sure, analyze it and try to decipher the true nature of Terry's choice of phrase.

Whether you agree it was racist or not, it was still a harsh thing to say. Secondly, you can bet that regardless of Terry's personal standpoint on racism, the media of course will sensationalize the matter in order to demonize him/sell more papers, (the two go hand in hand in the British press it seems).

Sav said...

You have called me Greek a hundred times (often in a derogatory manner), but although totally unnecessary as my race should have nothing to do with the arguments I put forward, I am not offended at all because I am proud to be called Greek. But I can't call you English every time I get upset with you because I don't want to offend the many English friends I have. The point is, Stevo is right, the need to resort to such adjectives is wrong not because they offend but because they are used with the intention to offend.

Hammersfan said...

Mike the flaw in your reasoning lies in the word "choosing". That presupposes that in a situation where we are under stress and enraged, we choose our words. We don't of course. Who amongst us hasn't said something we regret when stressed and angry? Who hasn't admitted that something came out wrong?

Are you married? Have you never said something truly unkind to your wife or had her say something truly unkind to you when in a furious argument? I know after 21 years it has happened in our relationship! Were those things meant literally? Of course not! Were those words planned? Of course not! Would you have wanted somebody to film you and put those words up on Youtube? Of course not! Would you want somebody to judge your character based on those words said in anger and under stress? Of course not!

So, we leave out the word "black" and there wouldn't be an issue. We insert the word "black" and there is more fuss about Terry than about Suarez allegedly using the N word to Evra ELEVEN times over the course of the game. Which is worse? If Suarez is guilty as charged, his racism was premeditated, persistent and calculated but the storm is about Terry using the word black once in a spat.

As I say above, Terry is a popular captain in a multiracial dressing room, so how can he be racist exactly?

Rab said...

From semiology to psychoanalysis: whether unconsciously or consciously, Terry used words that were intended to abuse. Maybe his racism is unconscious? In which case it's difficult to hold Terry to account because the unconscious is the location of desires and fears and violence that we repress. We're all 'guilty' of harbouring these. But while castigating Terry in such circumstances might not be fair or helpful, what his utterance does reveal is that he sees 'black' as something negative (even unconsciously), otherwise he wouldn't have included the term in an insult and he wouldn't have used it to prefix 'cnut'.

Ideologies (racist or otherwise) are always at some level unconscious. Terry's inclusion of the word black in this instance may be nothing more than a 'Freudian slip' but it reveals unconscious negative feelings about race.

As for having sex with a woman of any colour - Mrs Rab wouldn't stand for it! The other thing she doesn't stand for is the use of the word 'cnut', she considers it a derogatory term, used to belittle women. I, on the other hand, agree with Germaine Greer, who sees the word as one that can be appropriated to positive ends. Unlike all the other infantilizing terms often used to describe the female genitalia, 'cnut' has real power; it's a grown-up word, much more befitting an organ of such importance!

But in the extraordinarily unlike event that I was having sex with a black woman, the use of language would have to be consensual. She'd probably not object to 'black' but like Mrs Rab she may take offence at the word cnut.

We're not going to agree on this, are we? Although, I've got to say, looking back over this tread makes more interesting reading than some of the undergraduate media studies seminars I've sat through. :0)

Hammersfan said...

Sav, you wouldn't offend English readers by calling us English. You might upset us by reminding us that our money is being used to prop up Greece through the European Union, but calling us English wouldn't be an issue at all.

Again, there is the issue of tone. I jest about taking a German to a Greek restaurant with me so he can pay the bill, but I don't have anything against the Greeks, apart from the fact that, as a nation, you don't pay enough in taxes and expect the rest of Europe to bale you out. You may a dumb, dumb choice to join the Euro and, as an economist, I'd love to know what your position was at the time. I always maintained that the Euro was doomed to fail based on the North South divide we saw in the UK in the early 1980's. Even within a relatively small nation and a single economy, we had a dual speed economy and the Tories were pursuing policies that suited one half of the country but causing exaggerated pain to the other half. The German and Greek economies were always a million miles apart, so how were they ever going to operate together within a single currency, without political union? Madness!

Back to your argument, it sounds like we should ban the use of any word that identifies nationality or ethnic origin!

Lord Canning said...

Wow, what a thread. HF playing devil's advocate and raising a subject that always invites controversy. One the one hand you have the Guardian readers and those that work in local government as out-reachers and the like who see race bigotry whenever the word 'black' is used in whatever context. On the other hand you have the more tolerant silent majority who are fed up to the back teeth with the those on the first hand.
Personally, I always speak my mind and to that end have always called a spade, a spade. No offence.

Hammersfan said...

LOL, your last point hits the nail on the head Rab! Can you imagine John Terry trying to participate in this discussion?

Does he think of black as negative at a subconscious level? Of course he does! Firstly, he was raised by a white, working class, uneducated family. Secondly, he has been brought up in a culture where black is negative - black magic, traffic black spot, the black knight, a black and white situation etc.

Personally, I was always attracted to the black over the white at that level. I liked the black knight, I always wanted to be black in chess, I preferred Jones to Smith in alias Smith and Jones because he wore the black hat and was the more cynical of the two. But I was raised by racist parents in a racist East End, and there is, inevitably, a residue of racism inside my subconscious. I fight it, but it is not my fault that it is there. I am what I am and there are aspects of me that were formed by environment and upbringing before I could exercise choice.

What is tue for me is true for most of us, and certainly for John Terry. I bet he socialises more with black people than most white people do in the UK. I bet he genuinely has more black mates than most white guys. So, he used the word black in anger because it is buried deep in his subconscious and is triggered by rage, but that does not mean that he was being racist when doing so. In fact, by revealing the subconscious conditioning, it shows the extent to which he is NOT a racist because of the bonds he consciously forms with bllack team mates.

Hammersfan said...

Now, you see, LC, you have crossed the line in my opinion and your "jest" is far worse than anything Terry said to Anton, but my reaction is perhaps "coloured" by experience. My grandfather was a racist and when he died, the family were not prepared to have a black vicar conduct the service. As a result, his journey to the church was longer than any journey he had made in the last 5 years of his life. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the vicar's opening words were "Arch was a man who wasn't afraid to call a spade a spade". Here was a vicar at a funeral making a racist joke! To be fair, this happened in the early 1980's but your jest shows that some still regard this sort of "black humour" acceptable, even when said with an edge of malice. The term "spade" in this context is wrong in my opinion, as perhaps is the term "diamond geezer" as the antithesis.

Lord Canning said...

HF? Are you a Guardian subscriber and/or work in local government? In my attempt to show the stupidy of those who see racial bigotry everywhere -the term ''call a spade, a spade'' predates such idiocy, and it means to speak one's mind - which is what I prefixed it with in my original comment.
I am of Irish descent but I appreciated the houmour of Irish jokes that all Irish are thick navvies, with or without a spade. I don't go wailing to some quango body who exist purely to raise public awareness of the wrongs done to Irish navvies.
I suggest we change the subject and move on to jam. As a boy Iused to collect the Robertsons Golliw...... oops, better not go there eh?

Hammersfan said...

LOL Ask Stani if he thinks I am a Guardian reader! Does my overall stance on this issue suggest I am part of the Politically Correct Police? I did say that my reaction was based on personal experience, genuine personal experience.

It is a difficult area isn't it? A colleague at work once said in a meeting, "We have to find the nigger in the woodpile". It was one of those moments you see in films. A cloak ofsilence fell over the room. Everybody looked aghast. The poor sod who said it hadn't meant it in a racist way, he was using a figure of speech buried in his subconscious, a phrase his father had used when he was a child and which, he told me later, he could not recall ever having used himself before. It just came out and initially, he didn't even realise what he had said and why everybody was staring at him horrified.

The outcome? The guy was mortified and offered a very embarrassed apology and offered to resign. Happily, the resignation was not accepted. He isn't a racist, he didn't mean to use a racist term, he looked physically sick when he realised his error, he apologised and even offered to resign. Words have a way of forcing themselves out sometimes, completely disassociated from their entomological roots (Did the word "Roots" suggest itself because of the TV programme?), and completely unrelated to literal meaning too.

So, I could never "call a spade a spade" because of what was said at my grandfather's funeral, understanding fully what the vicar meant and just how inappropriate the phrase was in a church. However, I am not accusing you personally oof being a racist for using it. There is a distinction and a distinction I feel people are missing in Terry's case.

Lord Canning said...

Cheers HF, no offence taken, I've been called a lot worse before now.
Have a look at the News site 08:26 quotes ''All Blacks rule the world''. Now, change the B into b and you have a controversial statement staring at you. Sums up perfectly what this topic is all about. Perception and intolerant inclination.
Got to go now, the jury is back in the trial I am judging and I'm about to send down some pikie footballer for racist verbal assault. Ho hum !

Hammersfan said...


Rab said...

Lord Canning,
You are tilting at windmills. The assumption that only people who care about racism are Guardian readers and those who work in local government is utterly laughable but it's precisely the sort of smoke screen that gets thrown up every time a debate like this arise in an attempt to brush it under the carpet.

For give the self congratulator tone, but most people on the thread have been able to discuss the issue by trying to take on each others arguments and without trying to brush the issue aside as if it is irrelevant - as if race doesn't matter any longer. I wish that it didn't matter, but racial nature of Terry's insult shows that it does, as do the numerous instances of racial abuse that go unreported because they didn't emanate from high profile footballers.

But I think its worth going back to an earlier point I made about the general discourtesy shown by Terry. If I went to work and called a colleague a cnut I could expect a reprimand. If I did it in such a public way that it brought my place of work into disrepute, I could expect to get sacked. What makes footballers so special that they can go to work and behave in ways on a football pitch that wouldn't be tolerated elsewhere. Is football so important that it's above the law? Is football so much more stressful than every other form of employment that different rules need to apply to it?

The kind of aggressive and abuse behaviour displayed in professional football is not natural or inherent to the game. Go watch a junior football on a Saturday. The kids I watch could set an example to the professionals. Unfortunately its the professionals that set the example to the kids and the kids eventual adopt the unsporting behaviour of their heroes to the general detriment of the game.

God, I'm starting to sound like the Archbishop of Canterbury!

Hammersfan said...

Some good points Rab but we know that the passion on a football field and in a football stadium is very different to the normal work place. Players are pumped, deliberately so. Let's face it, at work we don't have 25,000 people baying at us do we? And generally speaking, if the pressure mounts, we can excuse ourselves and go to a private area to vent our emotions. But that option isn't available to a professional footballer is it? His every move is on camera! Actually, Terry was angry about his performance, the performance of his team mates and, most importantly, the performance of the referee, whose decisions were not wrong but which all went against Chelsea and for QPR. Terry vented, and Anton copped it, just as a husband vents and a wife cops it, or a wife vents and a husband cops it, or a teenager vents and a parent cops it. Nothing to do with racism, just vented ire. When a volcano explodes, it isn't worried about whether the people in the way of the lava flow are black or white!

Now, what has been one of our biggest complaints about West Ham players in recent years? That they don't seem to care, that they lack passion. We can't have it all ways. If we want passionate players, we have to accept that they will be "impolite" at times! I would much rather have John Terry in the middle of my defence that the polite Matthew Upson: "No, after you, far be it from me to block your way into the penalty box. Have a shot on me! Oh good goal sir!"

Lord Canning said...

Rab, everyone cares about racism and it should be eridicated but the fact is the Guardianistas and the out-reachers make it so difficult due to the lunacy in finding offence at anything containing the word 'black'. It is just a word. In the case in point I would have thought that Fedinand would be upset at being called a c*** ...of any colour, let alone a black one. Personally, I have never found any fault with a black c***, they work just the same as the white ones.
And as for you HF, I may not have 25,000 people baying at me, but I work in a bank with 2,000 customers who all seem to want to give me a hard time and some of them are right c****, I can tell you.
Still makes my bonus all the more deserved don't you think?

Sav said...

Of course you don't get offended by someone calling you English. It is the same for me being called Greek. I love it. Of course, if you go to an Arab country or a country in Asia such as Afganistan or Pakistan being called English or Greek for that matter may mean totally different things (and not all good I assure you).

Don't you start about how Greece is screwing the rest of Europe. It is not as simple as that and deep down I am sure you know it.

As far as what I think as an economist on the question of the Euro, I already told you that it was bound to fail as you can't possibly have a monetary union without a fiscal union. Basically, Europe are 27 countries pretending to be one country. They are not. Reality catches up with them sooner or later. By the way, Greece owes practically zero to the UK. It is basically France and Germany.

So, have a nice English day. That's the last you hear from me on this issue.

Anonymous said...

No doubt in my mind that Terry meant a racist dimension to be inferred from his comment. This is all-too-typical behaviour which many white people share. By white I mean 'English' white people, particularly the type who moved out of the east end when the 'foreigners' began to arrive. As for Suarez, no doubt that there is a lot of anti-black, anti-African racism in Spain. In fact, many 'spics', ;frogs' and 'eyeties' are racist. As are 'krauts', 'polacks', and various gypos, clothes-peggers, pikeys , travellers, 'chinks', 'coolies' and 'yids' - and of course yanks.

Travelling Hammer said...

HF, of the greatest concern to me is that you supported the French against the All Blacks (not a racist term)!

Also can someone explain how Adele qualifies for the MOBOs? I realise that "White" musicians qualify if their music style is of "Black origin", but how do her ballads pass that criteria?

Anonymous said...

16:04 her ballads as you call them are soul / jazz and r&b

Mike said...

HF. I wouldn't say my reasoning is flawed; just that you disagree with it. I think the difference in our opinions is in our view of whether Terry lost 'control'. You suggest that he was so enraged that he lost the ability to 'choose' what he said, where else I prefer the suggestion that he was being malicious.

After all, if in his enraged and uncontrollable state he was still able to look at Anton and process in his mind that this man was of black color, then I also think he was able to choose his insult.

To answer your question, I am married and know all too well that things are said in the 'heat of the moment'. But even at my most enraged when I've probably said some horrible stuff I later regretted, none of it had any racial undertones or reference to her not being the same race as me.

Furthermore I wanted to add that being in the big stage that is Premier League football, Terry with all his years experience as a professional footballer should know better, considering the game was being recorded and not to mention, (as I pointed earlier), that the media would have a field day.

To conclude, I do not believe that he was so out of his mind with anger that he didn't know what he was saying. But that's my opinion and the suggestion that he was is yours.

I guess only really John Terry knows what frame of mind he was in or what he meant by what he said, so perhaps we can at least agree that both our theories are flawed based on that assessment.

One thing is for sure. My opinion on this one incident doesn't pigeonhole me into one of those two categories suggested by another of your readers.

Nor do I read the Guardian for that matter!

Hammersfan said...

That's fair enough Mike, but in our country we work on the basis of reasonable doubt and innocent until proven guilty. I've given you reasons why Terry will automatically associate black with negativity - I bet a journalist somewhere wrote it was a "black day at the Bush" for Chelsea - so why is he being lambasted for this? I've said the adult response is for Terry to apologise and for us to move on, but that isn't happening because QPR are now making an issue out of this.

Stani said...

Er, because Terry was being racist HF!

Elf72 said...

HF, did that guy threaten to resign after making that comment at a conference?

Hammersfan said...

No, just in a management meeting Elf. Why?

Elf72 said...

I was in a national conference around 10 years ago sitting on a table with two black colleagues when that awful woodpile comment was made.

There must have been 140+ people in the room when this comment was made by a director. The room was in shock.

He too offered to resign. Thought it could have been the same event you were referring to as I'd never otherwise heard it post 1980.

I think everything on this matter has now been said but have to echo comments made that when the rest of the sentance is derogatory then it becomes inappropriate for race or colour to be used.

It ceases to be descriptive and becomes part of the insult.

Good debate though.

It's interesting, I was born in Ilford and the only other white kids in the class were Manuel and Neil (even the latter was from Swansea). I had not heard racist comments until I moved to a predominently white school in deeper Essex at the age of 8.

My own parents would've been horrified to hear me make racist comments but as i've got older I have seen racism in them even though it is totally at odds with how they brought me up. They didn't want me to become too serious with my non white girlfriend etc. Yet their own beliefs were so diluted compared to those of their own parents.

There is something in what you say about inherent beliefs fostered by upbringing and because of my upbringing i would never make a mistake like Terry has.