Dan Louw: There is a certain hypocrisy over Tottenham's use of the 'Y-word'... but intent is the key
We do not suggest that anyone who uses the word, whether Spurs fans or not, should necessarily be prosecuted
Monday 26 November 2012
It has been a weird couple of weeks to be a Tottenham Hotspur fan. It started with Peter Herbert, of the the Society of Black Lawyers, and the issue of whether people are going to be arrested for saying the "Y word", as it is now called.
Spurs fans have been defiant, but there is slightly less use of the "Y word" at White Hart Lane now. Supporters at White Hart Lane do feel annoyed by the criticism, as they feel they have been tarred by the same brush when actually the problem is not with us, as we saw twice last week.
It is slightly ironic that we should be the victims of actual violent racism on Thursday and then for the West Ham fans to effectively try to exploit that on Sunday. A small number of West Ham fans have sung anti-Semitic songs for some time but Sunday was a lot worse than I've ever seen or heard it before.
I sit on The Shelf near the Park Lane, where the away fans are. There were a lot of West Ham fans singing "Viva Lazio", which is sick but not necessarily racist. Personally, I didn't hear anything about Adolf Hitler or any hissing. But as I was walking down Tottenham High Road towards the ground, four West Ham fans all called me a "f**king yiddo". I continued walking, I looked at them, one of them told me to "f**k off". There was that kind of edginess, which I think is coming back into football a little bit at the moment.
Our defence mechanism against all this is to call ourselves "Yids" and to reclaim the word. We do not suggest that anyone who uses the word, whether Spurs fans or not, should necessarily be prosecuted. We use it as a badge of honour. We do not have anything else to call ourselves.
But I do feel quite appalled that I am trying to defend its use. It is not a principle which I would die for. And especially when David Baddiel says that he is offended by it, as a Jew he has every right to speak out. Herbert, on the other hand, I'm not sure is a credible voice. He is potentially alienating football fans, the very people he is trying to reach.I suppose there is a certain hypocrisy at the heart of what Spurs fans are doing and saying. But intent is the key here. If the word is used to abuse someone then that is completely different from using it to defend ourselves.
Does our use of it perpetuate the use by other fans? Yes it probably does. To an extent the West Ham and Chelsea fans who use it would see their use as legitimised by ours. It is a vicious circle.
The way football fans work, football grounds are very angry, intense, negative places, where you hear things which are not acceptable in wider society.
This country's way of dealing with racism has been to shame and isolate. Not just to convey it is not OK but that it will have negative repercussions socially. It has been quite an effective tactic. This is the Football Association's opportunity to do something Uefa have failed to do. An example should somehow be made of people who chant racist abuse.
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