I really should avoid getting dragged into the frivolous world of football, but in this instance we are presented with a useful exercise in identifying when a group of people are trying to control other people under the guise of morality.
You can read the story on the BBC website here, but in a nutshell a group called the Society of Black Lawyers has threatened to report Tottenham Hotspur football club to the police for a ‘racist incident’ unless their fans stop chanting the word ‘yids’ (as in ‘we are the yid army’, and not as in ‘we hate yids’). Yid is an abbreviation of the term yid-dish, which means Jewish, and is historically considered an offensive term – i.e used with the intent to cause offence (although in this instance it’s not used in that way).
The Society of Black Lawyer’s argument might seem legitimate at first glance, but in fact it is irrational and can be dismissed. Here’s why. They lay claim to the argument that it is morally wrong to assert that someone is inferior to you because of their skin colour or ethnicity by using, for example, a derogatory term such as ‘yid’. Broadly, that it is morally wrong to judge people by their skin colour or ethnicity and people should be prevented from or punished for doing so at all times. However, by calling themselves the Society of Black Lawyers they clearly imply that they wish people to judge their group’s members by their skin colour. If they didn’t want people to identify and judge the group by the skin colour of its members, there would obviously be no need to mention it.
To borrow from George Orwell’s description of ‘doublethink’ in his novel 1984, the SBL “…repudiate morality whilst laying claim to it.” In other words the Society of Black Lawyers reject the moral principle they lay claim to when it applies to them, but accept it when applied to everyone else. This is a contradiction, and contradictions are always falsehoods. Theirs is not a moral argument, it’s nothing more than an urge or impulse to prevent other people from doing something they don’t wish them to do by use of force – i.e. the law – disguised as a moral argument.
Because nothing intelligent can come from debating an irrational argument, there is no point in dignifying the SBL with a response, but unfortunately that’s exactly what the media has done, and I suspect the SBL are pleased with the amount of exposure they are now receiving. No doubt it’ll send a few more punters their way.
The way to identify when someone is simply wanting to control others under the guise of morality is when they make themselves the only exception to the principle or rule they are laying claim. One of the most common examples of this, sadly, is when parents tell their children that it is absolutely and always wrong to hit others, but then spank the child each time they do something that the parent didn’t want them to.
By the way, a 1954 BBC television production of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four can be watched for free here. It’s worth watching.