23:43  |  10 December 11
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Chamber of Debate

RACISM - Lewis Hamilton and David Beckham

It is regrettable that Lewis Hamilton was mocked by the Catalonians who blacked themselves up while wearing blonde wigs, with the intention of drawing attention to the fact that he is a half-caste.

Should this be allowed?

Contrast and compare this to a football fan saying to David Beckham: "I hope your children die of cancer."

Should Lewis Hamilton and other non-white sportsmen be protected from insult and distress while white sportsmen such as David Beckham are not?
Vote: Should Lewis Hamilton be protected from being caused offence if David Beckham is not?

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Members Comments

Andromeda 9-May-2008 13:33
In answer to Jeffrey Marshall’s comment that a person saying that he hoped David Beckham’s children would die of cancer is “probably actionable”, I would just like to say that it is not. It is well-established that cursing someone, eg telling them to “drop dead”, wishing “a pox on them” are legitimate expressions of hatred and enmity.

I would challenge “Tebay” opinion’s that such a comment is in no way racist, and not comparable to the taunting Lewis Hamilton suffered when Spanish supporters of his rival blacked up and wore blonde wigs to draw attention to the fact that he is of mixed parentage.

If by “racist” you mean “hate-filled and unjustifiably offensive”, then arguably being told that someone hopes your children die of cancer because you missed a goal is more upsetting and distressing than having your racial origins alluded to.

Since both were meant to cause offence, I see no qualitative difference in their intention. It would be meaningless to have free speech provided we do not offend anyone else! I am afraid this means that we should have the freedom to curse each other, as David Beckham was cursed.

All who voted yes have been infected with PC-itis!
tebay 8-May-2008 20:44
i think that is a stupid question as the insult directed at mr beckham was not a racist insult.of course rascism can be directed at white people and they should be protected.but this example given has no rascist overtones and is not comparable.
06gforty 12-Mar-2008 17:1
racism is bad, but us brits should be treated as well as other, newer generation and first generation brits
jeffreymarshall 6-Feb-2008 20:46
I should’ve thought telling David Beckham you hoped his children would die of cancer was actionable, if he’d chosen to take legal action – though it wouldn’t be a case of racial discrimination, granted.

My ignorance about sport drove me to various websites where they were discussing this. Apparently the black or half-caste F1 driver Hamilton is seen as ‘arrogant’, while black or half-caste Barcelona FC team member Ronaldhino is admired. Whilst then the former is dubbed a ‘puto negro’ & a ‘negro de mierda’, the latter – well – is not. So perhaps the spectre of rising racism among Catalan sports fans has been a bit overstated. Nevertheless, this is basically about crowd control. An isolated fan abusing Beckham is of a somewhat different order to a large group wearing monkey masks & t-shirts painted with the legend ‘Hamilton’s family.’ (Spanish wit, my goodness – I’d take a black Englishman any time over these Iberian t******!) A key difference is that the latter offence is premeditated – an important factor in determining the relative seriousness of any crime, I should have thought. It’s also behaviour that gets repeated at event after event – crowds issuing monkey noises, bananas thrown onto soccer pitches. I mean, if you go there armed with a load of bananas ready to throw at the pitch, it’s premeditated, right? So should this be tolerated then as an example of free expression? No - I don’t think so. Should there be special protection for sportsmen who are racially abused? Well, in an ideal world – no.

However, I think freedom ought to entail accepting some responsibility for one’s actions, & the responsibility in this case means behaving in a civilised way. No doubt most football matches are quite orderly affairs today; a few, though, have been the nearest thing to a full-scale riot that I’ve ever experienced. Also, they are events where - across Europe & in South America - ultra-right wing skinhead groups congregate to organise violence. I once overheard a policeman describing his job as ‘keeping a lid on all the (human) filth in society.’ Thus, policing these events with a view to stamping out ‘racist’ behaviour seems to me quite a helpful thing to do. After all, it fulfils the purpose of most law: it is expedient; it kills a number of birds with one stone & it encourages the others. What more could you ask for?
Herb 6-Feb-2008 1:20
The Catalonians who did that showed grossly bad taste and lack of civilised manners.

That doesn't mean it should be made a crime. If we start having laws that make bad taste a crime, then power-hungry control freaks, politically correct Nazis, and busybodies in general will have a field day - and it will not stop there. We will end up being deprived of our right to express any opinions at all, except officially approved ones.

Canada has already embarked on that course where so-called Human Rights Commissions have been given the power to act as Thought Police and are zealously doing exactly that. They have even made it dangerous for Canadian preachers to quote from the Bible. For another example of what these totalitarian, Thought Control zealots are doing, see this (posted on a British web site note, not a Canadian one) -

All comments are subject to approval.

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