The banality of stupidity

22 03 2012

When I was younger I assumed that university students were intelligent people. I based this assumption on the idea that university students needed a certain level of intelligence to pass exams and end up at  university. I also used to assume that university students were more naturally inclined to be open-minded because they were willing to leave home to study something new. I’m not sure I believe these simple ideas anymore.

I started to doubt the veracity of my assumptions when I finally made it to university. It was quite dispiriting I can tell you. Several groups caused me to doubt; the Tory boys on my course, the bellends that turned up in the Students’ Union to watch England during France ’98 (Yes I know it was my fault for going in the first place), the arrogant twats of the university football teams. Luckily the milieu of which I was part were righteous dudes. Naturally the dudes and I had some adventures, along the way we tried to abide the wankers with cutting asides and love of the Super Furry Animals. We so successfully abided the pricks that I clean forgot about them until yesterday.

The actions of Josh Cryer from Burnley brought all those pricks to my mind once again. I’d never heard of Josh until I found a picture of him on the BBC’s website yesterday. He looks like this;

From the photo  I could tell that Josh was a typical British young male adult; there was that certain style of clothing, that certain sort of haircut. Then I found out there is much more to Josh. He’s a law student,  he’s fit and athletic, he’s captain of a football team at university. I even found out that he’s a shining example;

“Ken Ickle, his former manager at amateur football side Borrowdale United FC in Burnley said: “I am quite happy to say that Josh Cryer was a very good player, he was loyal to the club and to his manager. He was well liked and never caused us one ounce of trouble. I wish he was still playing.”   

Then I found out that he had just been convicted for breaking a law under the Communication Act  because he had sent Stan Collymore a couple of texts containing racist language.

The fact that a law student has been found guilty of breaking the law was bad enough. The fact he broke a law in such a manner tells you something depressing about Britain in 2012. A couple of weeks ago my friend Phil used a blog post on Ffwtbol to characterise banter as an easy way to transmit bigotry. Cryer’s actions show how pervasive and banal this soul-destroying part of football culture is becoming / has become.

When Stan Collymore suffered his weekly deluge of abuse for the heinous crime of being a ex-pro footballer with an opinion an untrained eye, or assuming mind, may have concluded that Stan Collymore was being targeted by morons. Cryer has shown that such assumptions are disappointingly false. Outwardly intelligent people are also involved in the brave new world of Banter. The example of Cryer shows how seductive this brave new world is; you only need social media and a desire to contact celebrities with your thoughts; it was announced during the court case that Cryer boasted about having a new hobby of annoying celebrities on twitter.

Some may argue that to convict a person for sending a couple of lines of text of about 140 characters is wrong, or at least an overreaction but is it?  Why should people be allowed to racially abuse others without fear of comeuppance? Why should we tolerate people acting in such a rude way? It seems that some people need to be reminded of basic human courtesy, of cause and effect, of the need to think about the feelings of others.  If we are to continue on our inexorable progression towards the Nirvana of the iphone 22 the price may be laws that protect society from inconsiderate morons that are unable to pause and think for themselves. 

I’ve had a very small taste of twitter abuse for the a brief time (because I dared to have a different opinion) and the worst thing about was its casual nature, each insult was written as a throwaway remark. Needless to say those involved in this bullshit don’t see the effect of their comments. The throwaway remarks show the banality of stupidity.

Unfortunately this kind of fan behaviour is encouraged by the media, who legitimise it with the word “Banter” and the plea “Just call us now with your opinion!!!”. They like the hype because hype helps ratings. Unfortunately the hype  has also helped to create a culture of entitlement that encourages people to act without thinking and  display exaggerated emotions.

The abuse that Stan Collymore received proved these remarks are not throwaway. Players feel the comments and the criticism and the targets of abuse feel the abuse. If you want an insight into some of the possible effect of criticism on players read Robert Enke’s autobiography. Throwaway comments were one of the contributory factors behind Robert’s dark periods of depressive symptoms. Depression eventually led to him to take his own life. Of course personal, yet throwaway, criticism doesn’t always lead to that scenario but they seldom help situations. They don’t help the player or the ex-player and they show up the fan as a complete arsehole.

If I ever felt so worked up by a football match that I made a grossly offensive remark to a fellow human being I’d like to think I’d stop going to football. If football ceased to be enjoyable it would be no-one’s fault but my own. There would be no need to take this out on anyone else.




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