Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Politically Correct Football - The Final Frontier

Most men don't know how to knit. Most women don't know the offside rule. These statements are both true. But joking about one of them with a friend can get you sacked. Of course, having been in the wilderness I am arriving well after the after-party has finished in the Andy Gray / Richard Keys / Sian Massey sexist comments affair. However I have arrived in a weird parallel universe. One where we are happy for super-injuncting, multi-millionaire, cheating husband footballers to screw and punch their way around town screaming abuse on live television that would make a sailor blush, but absolutely will not stand for a couple of presenters sharing an off air comment about women and football that has probably been spoken more times than the Hail Mary.

I'm only planning a quick one here, because I don't want to get into the minutiae as they've been thrashed about for ages. Now there's a fair chance both Gray and Keys hold some sexist ideas. Despite their public lampooning it is probably fair to say they are not alone in holding them, inside or outside of football. The thrust of this post is … what the crap has happened to the world? Now when last I checked half of the Middle East and North Africa was breaking into civil war, the "let's bomb Iran campaign" was steadily gathering pace and MI6 reckon we're all about to be blown to bits by the friendly British jihadi next door and MI5 don't know anything about it. But somehow, not only is it news that in football (the most ubiquitous common ground in world manhood beyond perhaps thinking boobs were a great idea) some people think women are perhaps slightly out of their depth, but (yes, this sentence is continuing) that divulging this top secret information can get you hung, drawn and quartered.

Now before you don your suffragette uniform and chain yourself to the railings of Law Abiding Citizen HQ (good luck, it's a rather prickly hedge - if it were a railing I would affix a 'no parking' sign), I'm not out here to condone sexism. I just think we could perhaps do with some perspective. If Gray or Keys walked up to Ms Massey and said "You, by virtue of being a woman have no place in football, as you do not even know the offside rule" I think we'd be on a different page. But they didn't. They were talking to each other at work, and their conversation was not live or broadcast. The same goes for all the other dirt dug up on them. Nope, some do-gooder thought this eminently leakable, so they got the Chris Jeffries treatment (full apology of corresponding size to trial-by-press no doubt only days away). Now this is a dangerous precedent to set.

We already have laws on causing offence whereby intention of offence is no longer relevant. Rather like saying causing anyone's death is murder - a bit dramatic, but the principle is the same. We have degrees of murder/manslaughter etc because intent is one of the most important things in criminal proceedings. Why do the politically correct mafia think they have a right to ignore this? Where to next? If I write down "women are all crap drivers" in my diary and someone reads that am I to be charged? Or one step further - a little thought crime anyone? Or on the flip side "men can't iron" - now that puts the cat amongst the pigeons. Remember kids, PC thickos only support you if you are not mainstream. Make as many gags as you like about white, male, English bankers.

We need to take a big step back and realise this has got out of hand. As with so many things, from a dark past the balance has gone from catch-up to overtake and is now firmly out of balance the far side. We must be freed from this nonsense. As the rather too crude for my tastes Frankie Boyle points out, Andy Gray and Richard Keys say women don't know the offside rule and they'll never work at Wembley again. Michael MacIntyre says it and he fills the whole stadium.

Of course I think sexism is wrong, but if you want to watch a football match and blame a girl for not knowing a law (which she does, and got right), that's fine. Just don't shout it in her face. Jokes have butts, generalisations and stereotypes can be funny, and people will always pick on something about someone. To each their own.

We are treading on very thin ice with this crap. There is in all these things a line, unfortunately the British public seem to have gone so far past the line they've forgotten it ever existed; that there is anything you can say without causing undue and deep personal offence. Frankly, you're all being a bunch of little girls on this one - maybe man up a little. That's all folks, must finish my cardigan. Knit one, purl one...

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