Monday, 21 November 2011

Oi, copper nob!

I'm the one on the right
I'm inspired to write this by a point made in a discussion about the Sepp Blatter/racism in football argument on our local radio station. The host, Mark O'Donnell, recalled a diversity meeting where he asked if it was any different to be insulting to someone because they're black and because they have red hair. He didn't say what the answer was, but I think it is a genuinely important question.

I admit, I'm biassed. You might not believe it now, but when I was younger I had very red hair. (And, as you can see, curly.) And I did get regular abuse because of it. Lots of name calling and nasty little remarks and even stone throwing once.

I honestly can't see why there is any difference between racial abuse and this. (In fact, technically it is racial abuse, as red hair is a Celtic racial characteristic.)

In saying this, I am not in any sense suggesting that racial abuse is okay because somehow it's 'just banter.' It is inacceptable. But I also think that it equally inacceptable to make fun of people for being ginger or red haired. It's time we stopped shrugging it off as okay because 'It's just a bit of harmless banter.' It's not okay.

When this was discussed on the radio someone phoned in to say that he worked in a bar and someone had refused to be served by 'a ginger.' This isn't just a bit of fun. It's no more or less harmless than racial insults and ought to be given exactly the same treatment. Any other attitude shows that the fight against racism is not about equality but about political correctness.

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