Thursday, 28 August 2014

Friendly Banter

Scott forwarded me a link to an article in The Telegraph regarding the text messages of Malky Mackay and Iain Moody. You can read it here, but crux of it is that the writer, Brendan O’Neill, was critical of the fact that the two men are being publicly judged on comments made in ‘private conversations’.

His opening paragraph sets the tone:

Last week, two men in the world of football lost their jobs and suffered widespread public ridicule for things they said in private conversations. I can’t be the only person who finds this outrageous. I don’t particularly care what was in Malky Mackay and Iain Moody’s text messages; I care about the Enlightenment-era principle that, in the words of the great 17th century jurist Edward Coke, “No man shall be examined upon the secret thoughts of his heart, or of his secret opinion”. In other words, we should never be punished in public for what we think or say or believe in private. That principle, that central ideal of civilised society, has now been breached, and we should be very worried that this has happened.
O’Neill’s logic goes astray when he confuses secret with private, and his "in other words" is incorrect. They are not the same, and much of what follows is based on his failure to understand this. A secret opinion is just that, a secret. Once you express that opinion to someone else, it is no longer a secret, and in expressing that opinion, you will be judged by whomever you reveal that opinion to and if you reveal your opinions via technology or by social media, you risk the whole world knowing.

Now for most of us, that doesn’t present a problem as the world is not interested in what we think, but Mackay, and to a lesser extent Moody, are public personalities. The fact that their text messages were examined in the first place may be because they were sent on devices owned and paid for by their employers, Cardiff City FC. On the very rare occasion that I use my employer’s equipment or network for personal use, it is with no expectation of privacy. It’s part of the agreement. Even if they were sent on privately owned equipment, no one with an ounce of intelligence should consider their texts private. Phones get hacked, and messages are usually stored long after they are "deleted".

Unfortunately, Mr. O’Neill has a history of trivialising racism in football.
He considers efforts to combat racism in football to be "a class war" driven by "elites' utter incomprehension of the mass passions that get aired at football matches”. Referring to high-profile cases of racial abuse and alleged racial abuse, he argued, "these incidents and alleged incidents are not racism at all, in the true meaning of the word", due to the levels of passion involved, describing anti-racism efforts as "a pretty poisonous desire to police the ... working classes"
Presumably Mr. O’Neill subscribes to the point of view that this is all just ‘friendly text message banter’, a position adopted by the League Managers Association in their initial statement (later modified) which did nothing to dispel concerns that racism is not something it takes seriously.

I disagree with this position, and think that the topic is all the more relevant given the racial diversity of football these days. It’s not an abstract or hypothetical issue - Mackay and Moody work, or worked, in an industry with many people from different races and cultures on a daily basis. Once you make your true views known, whether intentionally or not, it makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for you to work with those you have insulted or expressed a prejudice against.
It emerged that Palace had given Moody time off following the raid on his home and that players at the club had been aware of allegations about him for some time.
Henry Winter wrote a far more intelligent piece on this topic which far more closely resembles my own opinion.

Incidentally, Mr. O’Neill is also on record as being opposed to same-sex marriage. Why the right for two people to marry bothers him is another issue, and while his “article” doesn’t give his opinion on the homophobic text messages that were reported, which may have been intentional, it wouldn’t be an unreasonable inference that he has no problem with those texts either.

What a nice boy Brendan O’Neill appears to be. What was that Henry Winter said about 'bumbling dinosaurs"? 

"Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts" [Proverbs 4:23]

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