Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Merger of Ideas

Here we have an example of the merger of two bad ideas: limiting freedom of speech, and criminalizing stupidity.

In 1958, an airplane carrying the Manchester United football (soccer) team crashed on a runway in Munich, Germany. Eight of the team's players were killed, as were 15 other people.

Last month, a tiny little football club called Crawley Town was drawn to face Manchester United -- which has been the most successful team of the past 20 years -- in the fifth round of the F.A. Cup competition, a year-long tournament that any football team in England can participate in. It's a big, big deal for Crawley Town, and they put together a song and video to celebrate the moment and raise money for the team's official charity. The video showed a band performing the song on stage, with celebrants dancing nearby. It was posted on YouTube, of course, as is everything of even trivial moment.

Turns out, one of the people dancing by the stage was filmed making gestures, the Guardian says, "simulating a plane crashing into the ground and holding up his fingers to count one, then nine, then five and eight to symbolise 1958." Some Manchester United supporter called the Crawley Town offices and complained about this tactless and offensive performance. The club, which had until then been unaware of the gestures, pulled the video and put up an edited version, which cuts the edges of the picture off to exclude the offending images. They also banned the offender for life from attending any of the club's matches.

Now, according to that same newspaper, this idiot has been "arrested under the Public Order Act on suspicion of causing harassment, alarm or distress."

This offender is 19 years old. The Munich crash is ancient history to him, and is only of significance to most living Man U fans as an article of ancient history, like the Battle of Kosovo or the Siege of the Alamo. Banning this stupid kid for his entire life from the matches of his home-town football club is excessive; involving the heavy machinery of the State and branding him a criminal is an injustice of the first water. Sadly, it is the sort of injustice that is becoming routine, and not just in decayed old-world societies.

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