If Dundee United player Jamie Robson is to be given any credit this week, it’s for acknowledging he made a terrible mistake in blacking up for a team night out.
Robson is a young man but even at 20-years-old people should have enough awareness to know that blacking up is not, under any circumstances, acceptable.
Nevertheless, there were many who leapt to Robson’s defence, saying those who were offended, or said the costume was offensive, were “snowflakes”.
Dundee United’s Jamie Robson is obviously getting into trouble for this bit of fancy dress. Some calling for a sacking – unsure whether its that or just a very sharp education the boy needs. pic.twitter.com/bFoZ9p6dpy
— Richard Wilson (@timomouse) December 9, 2018
This is a derogatory term adopted by the right-wing in the US that has become the put-down of choice for those unwilling or unable to confront their own prejudices the world over.
It is a way of dismissing criticism by saying those who say something is offensive will be offended by anything.
Those who wish to froth themselves up into an even more indignant fury then like to claim the offended are trying to take away their freedom of speech.
The truth is that just because you are free to write, say or do as you please, you are not free of the subsequent consequences or reactions you may provoke.
So, for example, while a person may think blacking up is just a bit of harmless fun – and, for the avoidance of any doubt, let’s stress here it really is not – that’s not a defence when others say it is offensive.
Hopefully, Robson will use last week’s controversy to think more closely about his actions but he is, unwittingly, now an example for us all.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as reasonable, non-prejudiced people and, for the most part, we probably are.
Yet pretending there is no problem in society, or refusing to take it on board when others say our actions may have been prejudiced, only adds to the problem.
It’s a form of privileged and unthinking prejudice itself, an inability to consider things from the point of view of someone who may feel discriminated against.
Racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and other prejudices are not always as overt as a footballer blacking up.
Being aware of racial sensitivities or other potential forms of bigotry doesn’t make you a snowflake, it just makes you a decent human being.