Poofs And Poppies

News media at present is a blizzard of talking heads who are spokespeople for equalities and diversities.

We have people speaking out against the Offensive Behaviour Act relating to Scottish football, while others want it kept in place to protect the rights of victims. Meanwhile, FIFA has confirmed its barminess by instructing UK national teams not to wear poppies this coming weekend. The excuse is that no political or religious emblems are allowed on national strips. Of course, it could be argued in the rather broad definition FIFA seems to have that every national symbol or flag is political.

poppyThe labeling of the poppy as a political motif would actually be laughable if it were not so disturbing. I think the reasoning behind this decision, unlike the poppy itself, IS entirely political. It seems to be a reaction to Brexit, which will have massive ramifications for the world of football. I believe the drive to make the UK only have one team will be ramped up, although this poses problems for UEFA’s Champions League, which is heavily reliant on the four EPL teams. Having one UK team at national level, while dividing the UK at club level, could be a difficult thing for football’s governing bodies to reconcile.

Everywhere you look, people are offended. FIFA’s offence at the symbol of remembrance is disgustingly petty and the FA and SFA are right to take on the chin any sanctions imposed. It is a matter of time before both FIFA and UEFA are shredded by the teams who slavishly adhere to their corrupt bureaucracy. Over in the States, people are in frenzy at the offence they feel over the candidates they oppose in the Presidential Election. Indeed, this entire electoral process has been about feeding that offence in supporters and trying to attract votes with it.

I have blogged on here for some time and, in the society we live in, taking on board that what you say may offend someone has increasingly become something that has to be considered. People are offended by remarks made about race, religion, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, politics, age, class etc etc. Now some things are said that ARE reprehensible but the question we have to ask is: How far do we take this equality and diversity business?

Are we going to have laws protecting ginger-haired people from being labelled “ginge”? Are we going to legislate to protect the rights of bald people? Will we prosecute abusers who mock fat people? Can “weegies” from Glasgow sue people from Edinburgh for calling them that vile, disgusting term? And notice how the media always adds “vile” and “disgusting” as adjectives to describe bigotry and sectarianism. You are not allowed to forget how much your language can upset and offend others.

I have always campaigned on here against bigotry and sectarian hatred. These things are real and should be dealt with. But you have to ask, are we in danger of going too far in our attempts to make society fair and equal? Because, let’s face it – it’s easy to be offended. But to be offended, you have to choose to be. And the way we are going, it will soon be a crime just to offend people for ANY reason. Which is a fine moral code up to a point but a very poor and very dangerous legal one.

lgJosh Meekings, the Inverness Caledonian Thistle player, recently was found not guilty of homophobia for using the term “poofy.” In today’s world, it is pretty rare to hear the word “poof” as a label for homosexual men. Indeed, it is often used by some gay men as an insult and conversely as a term of endearment for certain other gay men. It is a primarily British term and even when it was used widely, it was often not meant in a particularly spiteful way. In Meekings’ defence, he claimed he was abused first for being an “English w*****r.”.

Trading insulting epithets is as old as time. Going down the road of criminalising it in order to protect peoples’ rights may be an admirable objective but it is a slippery slope to becoming a “civilisation” where litigation, vindictiveness and pettiness abound.

All of this takes on board the endless whataboutery of “fenian” and “hun” that fuels debate in Scotland. Kafflicks and proddies are engaged in an ongoing serve and return of abusive name-calling which has nothing to do with faith but everything to do with mindless hate.

Even more worryingly, the entire business of offence is very often used manipulatively to get people into trouble. Indeed, the issue of faux offence is a growing problem in our society and is turning us here in Scotland into a nation of small-minded, petty pygmies rather than a nation of intellectual giants.

The drive to be PC has not seen us grow in any way but has made us all potential targets for Gestapoesque organisations that would seek to punish us for non-conformance to their societal rules. In essence, we have become experiments in a grand social engineering project that is all about silencing those who offend. Which means people who might disagree with the social engineers. However, history has proven that that we need people to challenge us at times – yes, even by offending our entrenched traditions – and we grow by allowing those people to speak out.

It was always accepted by Christians, for example, that the preaching of the Cross is an offence to people. Any message that requires us to express repentance can be. However, that offence has taken a sinister turn and is now used as a weapon to silence the influence of the Christian message. Children today are taught all about their rights but, unlike previous generations, nothing about their responsibilities. This breeds intolerance and disrespect and leads to even more offence. However, parents who take a strong stand against such a mindset which fosters rebellion are deemed by the system to be wrong and their disciplinary approach is offensive to PC liberals.

What we need is better legislation, which takes account of actual damage done by real criminal acts and is not a vehicle for people to weaponise their faux offence against those who disagree with them. Sadly, our society is degenerating into exactly this type of nonsense. Even sadder is that there are few people of wisdom who can differentiate between real prejudice and injustice and the false victimisation propounded by many.

The real answer is that we all learn to grow up and either not be offended or just sometimes accept we are and put our big boy pants on about it.