Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Yids and Niggas and Fenians and Huns!

The use of an Anti-Semitic term has been in the Football news recently.  Spurs fans have been told they will have to stop using the term ‘Yid’ which is of course slang for ‘Jew’.  I am a Spurs fan, have been for most of my life.  My Mothers two sisters settled in North London in the 1950’s and thankfully I ended up on the right side of that divide via my cousins Denise, Marilyn and her partner Ricky and my second cousins Paul and Chelsea, all fervent Tottenham Supporters but this is less about Football and more about Humanities ability to be constantly offended!

The term ‘Yid’ is seen as being offensive by many Jews and that’s fair enough.  I can understand that some people take offence at certain terms and having grown up in Northern Ireland I know all about offensive language and its widespread use but in all honesty I think this comes down to something else and that is that different people see offence in different ways and some people do not use offensive terms to be offensive.

The word itself is Jewish but it comes from high German and it has different pronunciations and different ways of being used more clarification of this can found by doing a simple google search for the word.  Large numbers of Jews settled in North and East London at the turn of the last century and Tottenham became a club associated with having a Jewish following and often it has been Jewish owned.  The term ‘Yid’ started being used as an insult and some of the Tottenham faithful turned it around and started using it as a way to incense those who were attempting to insult them. 

Tottenham fans are now being told that they cannot use this term anymore after many decades of its continued use.  Some of the Tottenham following use the badge of honour ‘Yid Army’ and chant ‘Yiddo, Yiddo’ at games.  Aside form all the controversy this is brilliant example of how words and terms can change over time and how language can be used differently by different people.  Even non-Jewish Tottenham fans fully acknowledge the clubs Jewish roots and their use of the word ‘Yid’ is one which is not used as offensively, rather it is used with pride.  So that’s the strange thing about this scenario a group of people are using a term in a completely inoffensive manner and another group of people who have no regard or connection to that culture or location are taking it offensively!  What’s the deal with that?  I have read many articles over the last few days by Jews based in London both Tottenham and non Tottenham supporters and even the odd Goon who are saying that this is stupid and they’re Jews themselves!

In Northern Ireland we use so many terms which could be deemed hateful and offensive.  Fenian, Hun, Taig, Prod to name the main ones.  How these terms are taken depends a lot on who’s using them and how they’re being used of course.  I witnessed an incident not too long ago were one woman called another woman ‘Hon’ as in short for ‘Honey’ and it was taken as ‘Hun’ it caused a massive argument.  I knew the people involved and I was aware that the woman who took offence at the use of the word was very easily offended so it wasn’t a surprise really.   I was brought up in the Catholic persuasion but I have never been offended at being called a Taig or a Fenian. Growing up in Craigavon at the height of the troubles I was mates with both Catholics and Protestants and we used to call each other all manner of names in the proud tradition of Slaggin’.  Slaggin’ in Northern Ireland has no rules and often peoples mothers and sisters will be spoken about just for the craic!  I maybe would have been a bit more sensitive to this sort of thing when I was much younger but to be honest it doesn’t really matter what people call you.  The way I see it is that if you’re easily offended then you will be setting yourself up for people to go out and try to offend you.  Human beings are offensive so the only sure way to fight against ignorance and those trying to wind you up is to not mind what they say.

There’s another offensive term that I use just about every day.  My music play lists are absolutely full of this word and to be honest because I am an awful man for learning the words of the music I listen to and singing them to myself I will easily have used this word tens of thousands of times from the late eighties onwards and word is ‘Nigger’ or at least the less offensive version of it ‘Nigga’.  This word is used in Rap music by black people who are doing something similar to what the Tottenham fans are doing.  They have taken a very offensive term and started using it themselves thus nullifying the use of it by anyone who wished to be offensive. I know Hip Hop inside out up until the mid 1990’s from the early eighties onwards.  ‘Nigga’ started being used a lot in Rap after about 1988 when ‘NWA’ released ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and the controversy around that word is still a key issue in Black American politics.  I can fully see that some people would be offended by someone calling them something that they didn’t wish to be called but seriously if someone who themselves is Black is singing the word in an inoffensive manner why is there a problem with it?

That’s what this comes down to, the context and meaning of the term ‘Yid’ when used by Football fans is completely inoffensive.  Lets say for the sake of example that a devout Jewish family lives within earshot of White Hart Lane and on match days they can clearly hear things being chanted from the terraces.  So if every time the chant ‘Yiddo, Yiddo’ rings out and they begin getting agitated by it then I am afraid it their problem and not that of the fans chanting it.  The key here is that those fans are not singing those words in order to upset that particular family, it isn’t personal, they don’t even know the family is there they’re busy watching a game of Football. 

What is actually happening here and more or less everywhere is that Human beings are TOO SENSITIVE, that’s what this all comes down.  Many people are just going around with their politically correct aspirations and trying to tell other people that they can’t do things because someone a thousand miles away might hear about it on the internet and get offended.  It’s not just sensitivity it’s utter madness.  If someone walks up to you on the Street and calls you a derogatory name to your face then you have the right to be offended if the term is deemed such by yourself but if a couple of thousand men in Football stadium are using the term as a means to bond and support their team that has nothing to do with anyone but them. 

I’ll end this very simply.  If you are easily offended then you will find yourself being constantly upset by matters which often will have no bearing on your life whatsoever.  I would advise you whoever you are to toughen up a little, this is bastard race you occupy and if you allow people to hurt you with words you are letting beat you without them ever even needing to lift a hand.

Look after yourselves and each other.

Peace and love.

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