I read a letter in yesterdays metro which totally missed this simple and obvious point.
As I stated earlier, it’s the degree of the individual act of bigotry that makes it good or bad, not the topic of it. The letter said people should learn to deal with small minded abuse and not suffer from it. Which, taken out of context, is good advice. But the letter went on to imply that different kinds of bigotry hold different weights, just because of the topic. This is grade A nonsense.
Patrick Mercer is a grade A twit in condoning racism, but then so are those who are making fun of his statement of fact, that it is no worse to call someone a “black *******” than a “ginger *******”.
It is not the topic of bigotry that makes it acceptable or unacceptable, it is the treatment that results from the bigotry. All bigotry, (excepting of course bigotry against the ignorant and bigoted), is unacceptable, whatever the reason. One shout of “black *******” is not in any way worse than one cry of “ginger *******” or “specky *******”, and anyone suggesting otherwise needs to get a sense of perspective. However one cry of anything can and should be shrugged off. It’s unlikely that the people Mercer was citing as crying racism were reacting to such isolated one-off taunts, but a consistent pattern of abuse.
I find it a bit worrying that some people who have condemned Mercer believe that if you exchange a racial group for a group identified by similar, but no racial, characteristics, abuse becomes somehow less bad. It’s not.
I don’t find Mercers suggestion that the taunts ginger soldiers receive come with greater or equal frequency and vehemence than those directed against black soldiers, credible and sensible, and his suggestion that racism is OK because others are treated equally abusively is abhorrent. Maybe I’m just a soft case who doesn’t understand what it takes to make an army, but if this is what it takes I’m proud to be soft.