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Saturday, 31 March 2012

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When (the, by all accounts, rather loathsome) Mr. Terry of the Chelsea football club was caught and prosecuted for (allegedly) making ungentlemanly 'racist' remarks to Mr. Ferdinand of the Queens Park Rangers club, the Times carefully reported his (alleged) imprecation verbatim as: "You f******g black c***".

This struck me as curious, since the paper had carefully asterisked the two words which seem to be common parlance on the pitch and in the crowd, but left the single 'offensive' word in full for all to be appalled and disgusted by its employment.

"if I call a Negro ‘a black bastard’ am I likely to be charged with using the word ‘black’, a specific and impeccably accurate adjective; or for saying ‘bastard’, a term of insult and abuse?"

These days, you can probably get done for using the word "Negro".

Scandalous that someone can be jailed for tweeting what any saloon-bar bigot can say with impunity. Culpability and seriousness is, these days, defined by what a small metropolitan elite think.

"Webwrights" makes a very interesting point. The individual words used would never in themselves get you charged. There seems to be some ill-defined and complicated rule by which using a term which might refer to human negritude, coupled with some other terms of disapproval, push you over the edge into being a "racist" who must be dealt with. I'd love to see them formulate the exact rule in the form of a statute!

I'm guessing, but if you used "negro" in the sort of serious discussion that demands a less wordy equivalent to "someone whose descent derives from sub-Saharan Africa" you should be fairly safe, but if you use it in a context where it's might be views as intended to offend someone, you aren't. Even if that someone himself uses the igg word freely. Funny old world.

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