Free Speech: Mario Balotelli Is Guilty Of Tweeting Whilst Black
THE Mirror’s Brian Reade wants to talk about the problem of grown men exercising their right to free speech. Not everyone gets paid to comment, like a by-lined journalist does. Some people just talk and tweet and write with no concern for deadline or encouraging reader interest and clicks.
Reade begins his columns by explaining how things were great in the days of Roy Race, a fictional footballer who existed in a comic. Reade delivers some Melchester Rovers banter:
FAN: “You were lucky today, Roy.”
ROY: “Really? I thought we had your lot on the run.”
FAN: “Our lot run? That’ll be the day.”
ROY: “Ha ha. That’s a bit unfair on your lads.”
Today he says it would go like this:
FAN: “U spawny **** Race.
ROY: “You lost…LOL.
FAN: (and 235,438 others bailing in on similar lines) “I ope u catch AIDS u albino **** + yr kids get cancer.”
Just to repeat: Roy of the Rovers exists as a comic. He never was real. He was marketed to pre-adolescent schoolboys before things went digital and the cool kids watched rolling children’s telly and could see actual football games on most nights of the week.
Reade’s problem is with the level of debate on Twitter – no-one has written the Great American Tweet yet but most of the prelude deals with people showing off, shouting and wasting a few seconds. His problem is free speech:
MPs have tweeted about supporters being scum, players have laid into referees, ex-players and pundits into current players and Joey Barton has laid into everyone.
This is Reade who once wrote in the Daily Mirror:
Welcome to the Brook Estate in Eltham, south east London. The breeding ground of four of the five men accused of stabbing Stephen Lawrence to death as he waited for a bus a short walk away on the eve of St George’s Day six years ago. Five products of a twisted philosophy drummed into them from birth. “If they’re black, stab ‘em in the back.”…
A way of life passed down from father to son. You see the link emerge in the fading white graffiti sprayed 30 years ago on the walls of the old railway bridges around the estate, written by the last generation of Eltham Boyz. In three feet high letters: “SKINHEADS.”…
Give me the father and I’ll give you the son who will give you the son who will abuse, persecute and even kill another human being for committing the heinous crime of not being born white.
Racism was inherited. Get the killers and purge the land.
This is White Man’s Gulch… This is E-reg Escort-land.
So much for anti-discrimination, eh. When did the entire white working class become pariahs? You don’t need a twitter account to lay into someone. You can get a newspaper column.
Mario Balotelli doesn’t have a newspaper column. But the Liverpool striker does have a twitter account. Reade noticed Balotelli’s tweet following Manchester United’s defeat at Leicester City:
When Balotelli launched “Man Utd… LOL” into the Twittersphere….he knew what he was doing. He knew that a Liverpool and ex-Man City player mocking United fans when their pain was raw would draw an ugly response.
He didn’t deserve a torrent of racist abuse, but that’s what it was always likely to inspire.
As was the inevitability that Merseyside Police would have to waste precious man-hours troll-hunting.
Troll-hunting is a waste of time? True enough. The police are selective in their approach to so-called trolls. And becoming a police nark is not for eveyone.
But this is Reade,who wrote for the Mirror beneath the headline:
Why police should arrest MORE fans who post and chant about football tragedies
Reade wants police to arrest you for singing songs.
Who didn’t applaud the police for swiftly arresting the cretin who posted obscene messages on Facebook as Fabrice Muamba was fighting for his life? And who wouldn’t want them to do more of this.
Well, you, Brian. You don’t.
The idiot refeered to is Liam Stacey, who tweeted a cluster of repugnant messages as Muamba lay dying on the White Hart Lane pitch. When Stacey was sent to prison for 56 days, the judge told him:
“…At the moment not just the footballer’s family, not just the footballing world but the whole world were literally praying for his life, your comments aggravated this situation. I have no choice but to impose an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you have done.”
A tweet to Stacey’s 300 followers aggravated the situation of a young footballer who’d breathing on a pitch hundreds of miles away? The tweets were odious. But did they create a climate of hostility? Did they trigger a mass outpouring of racism on twitter? No. They are remarkable for how isolated Stacey became and how extraordianry his comments were. People did not rush to agree him. They condemned him. He deleted his tweets. But because voices on twitter were outraged and offended, the police, CPS and judge wanted to comply with their will. They needed Stacey to make them look on the side of the moral and the righteous. An apology wasn’t enough. He had to be sent to prison. For tweeting.
But people who wanted Stacey murdered and raped in prison, well, the police left them alone. Is the law on hate speech only applied to people the police want to be seen siding with? Say the unsayable and you’re fair game.
Back to Reade, who adds that Balotelli will waste police time…
All because a bored footballer decided to ingratiate himself with past and present fans.
No. Police get involved because after murder of Stephen Lawrence they embarked on a PR offensive to bury their “institutional racism” in the coffin marked ‘bad old days’. In these post-Lawrence times you can be an ‘unwitting racist’. The Macpherson Report into the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence defined a racial incident as “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”. Racism became a subjective matter. If someone is offended by words or gestures it constitutes racism. It’s no longer about vitriolic State-sanctioned and State-fomented racism. It’s about you. The State is watching you. It’s watching what you say. The police have taken an avid and unhealthy interest in our words.
Reade goes on:
Was it worth giving those brave bedroom warriors their chance to spew out racist bile, no doubt the same warriors who wished death on Luis Suarez for abusing Patrice Evra over his skin colour? Isn’t there enough poison in football’s well without players needlessly drawing gallons more?
So. It’s not racism, then. It’s just people on twitter saying things to antagonise. ‘Warriors’ who abuse Balotelli’s skin colour also wants Suarez dead for abusing a palyer’s skin colour, says Reade. It’s shouting at pigeons in the precinct and hoping one of them recognises you.
But the worst part is that Reade’s says Balotelli should not speak freely because he will be attacked. What the man says and doesn’t say is his decision to make. He’s an adult. He’s not asking to be insulted by bigots and idiots. Tweeting Whilst Black is not a crime or a troll honeytrap. He’s heard it all before.
Reade then adds:
You can’t order players off social media (because lawyers would claim that barring them from taking selfies in Nando’s infringes their human rights) but you can ban them from posting provocative tweets, with serious fines if they transgress.
So says the journalist who wants our hard won free speech curtailed. The journalist who wants police to censor songs:
Just wade in there and drag a dozen out whenever the vile chants go up and get them into court. I reckon it would soon shut them up.
Speech is either free or it isn’t. No buts.