Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Saturday, December 06, 2014
The stupidity of trying to regulate hate speech

Too often, the people doing the regulating do not get humor and satire. Latest case in point: the English Football Association has brought "charges" against star player Mario Balotelli (who is Italian, of Ghanaian descent) over an Instagram post of the picture "Dont' Be Racist," which shows how multi-ethnic (and thus non-racist) Mario is by reference to all the ethnic stereotypes he embodies.

The FA says Balotelli violated a prohibition on "abusive and/or insulting and/or improper," aggravated by "reference to ethnic origin and/or color and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief." I posted the picture after the jump. Is it possible to sensibly see this as anything other than a joke, reappropriating stereotypes to undermine them? Is this really abusive or insulting? Or is this simply what happens--when you try to regulate words, context inevitably gets lost.



Words without context are meaningless. A photo meant to lampoon racism (by a non English speaker who has more personal experience with racism than all of the FA no less), should be taken as such, even if poorly executed. The FA doesn't value players for their intelligence... why judge them on it?

And as my black Jewish wife emphasized: "Who cares? Balotelli is kinda dumb." That's the context that matters.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 12/07/2014 3:52 PM  

You know what...the first time I read it I thought it was funny.
Although, I just realized that the last two lines (jumping and grabbing coins) were added after the original meme was out there.
I'm thinking that that's what has everyone up in arms...without that addition it's harmless, with it the tone does change a bit.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 12/08/2014 10:39 AM  

Post a Comment