The why word

The Y word.

We've been here before. A fair few times. I've decided to look at this from a different perspective to avoid repetition. Also, I'm sure (in my absence) this has already been debated and digested by all concerned. I found out about the FA statement thanks to a single line reference in a match report post-Norwich game and laughed out loud. I knew this was coming. Had a feeling that it was either a 'ban' of the word 'yid' or some extreme measures to be implemented to stop persistent standing at football matches (I reckon that isn't too far away either).

Firstly, I'm not Jewish so arguably I don't have the right to tell you or to suggest to anyone that the word is / isn't derogatory. The argument for and against will always be about context - even though there are some (many at Spurs) that dislike the use of the word regardless of the history where identity has been claimed off the back of those that choose to use it to offend. My perspective will always be one of a football supporter and my own person opinion.

Rather than argue the semantics of any given word and how it can be spoken to incite or unite, let's consider what the FA have asked.

The Football Association has warned that any fan caught chanting the word "Yid" could face criminal charges.
The anti-Semitic term has been aimed at Tottenham fans due to the area's large Jewish population and Spurs supporters sing "Yid Army" as a form of identity.
In a statement the FA said: "Use of the term 'Yid' is likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer.
"Use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offence and leave fans liable to prosecution."
It added: "The FA would encourage fans to avoid using it in any situation." - BBC Sport

The long term logic here is to remove this word from the footballing public's conscious. The word is offensive outside of football (if you detach the entire reasoning behind the non-derogatory use of the word and simply focus on the word itself in isolation) therefore the thinking is simplistic - it's a word that is considered to be offensive therefore shouldn't be used. Except it isn't simplistic at all. In fact there probably isn't even a right or wrong opinion or solution to this.

I've been at Stamford Bridge and seen Chelsea fans escorted out of the ground for screaming 'f****** yids'. The context here is hardly ambiguous. The clumsy counter argument suggests that if it's okay for us to call ourselves yids than how can you quantify that very same context to be racist if they suggest they may as well be screaming 'f****** Spurs' at us? I've been both home and away and heard far worse said by opposing supporters. Yet the stigma appears to be one that sits with those that use it for positive reasons.

The flawed logic again is that by using the word yids we are somehow encouraging others to attack us with it. The 'others' are not supporters of Spurs and are bound to use the word with malice. So what we have is Spurs fans inciting racism and hate in those that harbour such feelings when wishing to scream something offensive at us. I did say the logic was flawed.

I know that racism isn't tolerated full stop and if you're caught in the act then you're dealt with accordingly, so the FA see this stance as a means to remove any reasoning for anyone to be caught up in it. 

Does the FA therefore have good intentions? 

If you seek to eradicate a word, what are you actually aiming to achieve? If you're racist, you would probably bite your tongue rather than face prosecution. The fact is, taking football out of it for a moment, people believe in what they choose to believe in. You can't control their thoughts. In a football environment, due to the mob mentality (even with CCTV, stewards with cameras, etc) there is still an element of expressive freedom. Sometimes, supporters take it a touch too far, believing themselves to be safe when hissing, because twenty people around them are also hissing.

If you ban a single word because of ambiguity, to aim to discourage the derogatory use of the word and thus sacrificing its rejuvenated version - what are you solving exactly? Racism is society's problem. Football remains an escapism - be it a consumer based experience these-days, but there is a tribal element that shouldn't be discarded just for the sake of sweeping the real issues under the carpet.

Banning the word yid will take a generation, if not longer to filter through - if it's even possible, which I don't think it is because those that hate us will still use it.

On the one hand you'll have those that will continue to seek to offend because football rivalries can take even the most simplistic banter to the very extremes of taste. On the other you have a set of supporters that have (over a generation or two) celebrated the fact that whilst the authorities did nothing at the time (other than herd fans in and out of games like diseased cattle) to combat racism at football, Tottenham fought back by taking that single word and transforming it from the weapon of choice for the opposition to a badge of honour.

Control (not of thoughts but of actions) has allowed the very same authorities the power to police games with far more of a potent force. They can single out individuals, a far cry from the maddening terraces of the 70s and 80s. 

We can't control what others choose to say or think or behave. We can only react to it if we're placed in a position to do so. And that's what we did. 

I guess we could also side step the dumbing down of something that is part of our footballing culture as Spurs fans and not bother discussing further semantics - those that concern the evolution of language and that solitary word. I don't expect anyone to dismiss the fact that for many - outside of football - the word retains pain, but how wonderfully poetic that football itself can change the value of its meaning. We've adopted it for reasons of support. I'm not sure of the specifics of the history of the word, but had it started out as a term of endearment then hijacked by those that preached hate, surely this lends further credence to holding onto it.

I think it's here where the FA have completely missed the point. The word yid is not the trigger word for the racist element that remains the true scourge of the problem at hand. They might do well to stop racism at games, especially anti-Semitic abuse, but it will still fester under the breathes of those that continue to take pride in Nazi salutes and songs about gas chambers. Which is why I personally believe that a word we reclaimed and made our own shouldn't be surrendered to appease those that retain discomfort with its use.

There is plenty of good work being done to fight racism but at the same time there are countless examples of soft punishments being dished out to clubs that have fans that are consistently guilty of abuse in numbers. There is no balance, there is no consistency. I'm certain I'm not alone with the ironic targeting of this word and our supporters. It's easy to see how publicity works off the back of something that is able to generate soundbites and hype.

This remains (in combating racism) a deflection and not a fix. 

Spurs chant Yid Army with pride, for reasons purely of a footballing nature where we have united against racism with focus on heritage. Racism won't be defeated by covering our mouths whilst others cover their ears.


Spookyyids, The FA, racist, context