THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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The critical importance of football chants

BBC Sport - FA threat to fans over anti-Semitic term in chants.

Apparently it's a criminal offence in this country for football fans to call themselves 'yids'. Personally, I think the way Jewish and Gentile Spurs fans have together handled anti-semitic abuse by using and 'owning' the word 'yid' in their chants is marvelous. It's a great example of how to handle provocation gracefully and with good humour. Laughing at those trying to provoke you is just as - if not more - effective than responding with violence. Sadly, the Football Association begs to differ. Violence is apparently the only proper response in its view and if Spurs fans are not prepared to offer it then - via the legal system - it will.

This, says the FA, is because a 'reasonable observer' would find the word 'yid' offensive. I disagree. Frankly, even when its intended to be offensive (e.g. when other fans shout it at Spurs games) it's a mere breach of good manners, unworthy of criminal sanction. I actively prefer ignorant people to be as open about their nastiness as possible - wearing Ku Klux Klan robes or swastikas, ideally - so that I know not to buy them a drink, employ them or give them my custom. It would be just the kind of useful indication already thoughtfully given by wearers of Che Guevara T-shirts.

When I worked for a Jewish law firm, I refused to reveal whether I was Jewish myself because I learned so much about the occasional client or professional contact who really felt he needed to know. The more desperately he questioned my colleagues on the subject, the more I knew I didn't value him. It was very educational.

We have about 120,000 professional criminals who need to be locked up and about 80,000 places in prison. Is it really all that reasonable to set a criminal free to make space for a Spurs fan with a sense of humour?

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