Kelvin MacKenzie calls Everton’s mixed-race footballer Ross Barkley a ‘Gorilla’
They’ve only gone and called the police to investigate Sun columnist Kelvin Mackenzie on suspicion of being a racist. Former editor Kelvin MacKenzie used his column in the paper to liken Everton footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla. Barkley is mixed race by way of a Nigerian grandfather. MacKenzie, reviled on Merseyside for his leading part in the Sun’s appalling Hillsborough coverage, has behaved despicably. The Guardian says he claimed Barkley “had deserved to be punched at a nightclub because he was similar to an animal in a zoo”.
MacKenzie wrote in the Sun:
“Perhaps unfairly, I have always judged Ross Barkley as one of our dimmest footballers. There is something about the lack of reflection in his eyes which makes me certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home.
“I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo. The physique is magnificent but it’s the eyes that tell the story.”
Hideous, reprehensible comment. For added spite – and this on the eve of the Hillsborough anniversary – Mackenzie aimed a few low blows at the people of Liverpool:
It’s pathetic tripe.
But narking to the police is weird and unsettling. It suggests we can’t police ourselves, that we aren’t robust enough to spot a berk in the crowd when we see one and treat them with derision and ridicule. We need official back up. We need our words policed.
The same police who treated dying fans at Hillsborough as a public order problem will now police speech and thoughts. The State’s enforcers who perpetuated the biggest police cover-up in British history have been called in to investigate a man who approved and defended a shameful article that smeared the innocent dead. (Although, a mere 23 years after “The Truth” even Mackenzie apologised.) Never mind that Hillsborough can be linked to the State’s war on football fans, on whom all draconian forms of control could be tested, just get a load of that big mouthed media goon. He’s the real problem. Well, so says the media, which likes nothing more than talking about itself.
The Sun’s “The Truth” report on Hillsborough was revolting. To anyone sane the paper’s lies always have been indefensible. The Sun‘s infamous headline and lies weren’t produced in isolation – the paper colluded with police and politicians to criminalise the victims. Society raged loudly about the paper. Meanwhile, it took decades for the dignified bereaved to drag the police to court. After a mere 27 years of struggle, the State decided the dead were blameless. What we knew was only now official. Even now the survivors and the people who lost so much in 1989 are waiting for justice.
In the meantime, Kelvin Mackenzie makes for an inviting (and deserving) Aunt Sally.
Merseyside police say they received an online complaint from a member of the public alleging that “comments written about a third party constituted a racial hate crime”. If you think it’s a hate crime, then it is one. Maybe.
And it’s politicised. Liverpool mayor, Joe Anderson, tweeted to say he had reported the article to Merseyside police and the Press Complaints Commission for being a “racial slur”.
He then criticised Everton for not copying Liverpool, which banned the Sun from matches and press conferences. Liverpool has also blocked the Sun from interviewing its manager and players. “@Everton 😱Your lack of action in banning the S*n from your press conferences is a smack in the face to our City”, he tweeted.
MacKenzie might well worry when Joey Barton, someone who knows more than most about smacks to the face, becomes the voice of reason. The Scouse footballer tweeted: “Those comments about Ross Barkley, a young working class lad are disgusting. Then add in the fact he is mixed race! It’s becomes outrageous.”
It is. It’s abysmal. It’s incredible the Sun published it. But it’s not a crime. It’s one man’s idiotic, rude and ugly to-deadline opinion.
UPDATE: the Sun has suspended Kelvin MacKenzie.