The law and the law

My son, Kaleb, and I walked down to the park to play football last week one evening before dinner.  As he took shots, I mentioned to Kaleb that John Terry had been cleared of racist abuse by the criminal court here in London. I briefly wrote about one aspect of this incident briefly here, and here’s CNN’s coverage of the story.

“That’s not right!”, Kaleb cried.  “It’s against the law to be racist.”  True and true.

“Should it be against the law to be racist or even say racist things?”, I asked.  Kaleb responded “Yes, because it was public.”  I agreed with him that the public nature of John Terry’s offense puts it in a different category.

I’d also added that I think a society must protect it’s citizen from racist abuse when it is tied to violence or the treat of violence.  On the other hand, government cannot control what comes out of our mouths, let alone, monitor our racist thoughts.  But when those words are public and bring fear to another individual – then the government has a right to step in.

But Terry’s words broke another law.  The law of God on which the law of our government is based.  Racism is a sin in that it contradicts God’s call for us to love our neighbors as ourselves which Jesus taught in Mark 12:31.  John Terry may have been found innocent in Britain’s criminal court but I know he’ll face judgment again at a later date.

Did the court made the right decision in this case.  Not sure that Terry broke the law of the land.  But I am sure that John Terry broke the law.

Let’s be careful while we kick racism out of football

Last week my 11-year-old mixed-race son, Kaleb, watched a BBC documentary on racism in the Ukraine and Poland.  These countries are co-hosting the 4th largest sporting event in the world – the European Football Championship – Euro 2012.  It has been football non-stop around the Hatch house lately to chagrin of the Hatch ladies.

Several times during the game the conversation has turned to racism and Kaleb has remarked that “The Ukrainians are racist” or “The Polish would beat me up if I went to a game.”

How should a white father respond to comments like these to his brown son?

I’ve tried to make several points with Kaleb:

1. There are racist people in the world who will be mean to him just because of the colour of his skin.  This is a sad fact and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.  Our world is broken in many ways, but this is one aspect of that brokenness which impacts my son in a very personal way.

2. It’s OK to take precautions in order to stay out of trouble.  When he’s an adult, he might decide that he doesn’t want to attend a football game in Poland or Ukraine and that’s OK.    He may decide to engage in difficult and dangerous activities but there’s no glory in getting beaten up for football.

3. Just because there is a group of racist people in a country, that does not mean that everyone in the country is racist. Thinking that each and every individual in a community acts like the worst element, leads to the racist thinking that we want to avoid.

4. No one is beyond the grace of God. We are not inherently better than anyone on the BBC documentary as Paul tells Titus:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy (Titus 3:3-5a)  

Paul’s  self description sounds like some the European football fans.  And like Paul, racist football hooligans can by changed by God in his mercy.

Let’s kick racism out of football, but let’s be realistic while we do it.

Police escorts – now and then

Heard it first on the radio and then saw the headlines online:

“Ferdinand to get police escort” – Daily Mail “Anton’s Cop Escorts” – The Sun

                 

and even this one:

“Police investigate death threat against Anton Ferdinand” – The Guardian

I immediately thought of this photo from Norman Rockwell depicting a little girl being escorted into  a New Orleans school in the 1960’s:

No matter what your thoughts are on John Terry, racism is still alive around our world.

 

 

 

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