Damien on… Eric Cantona
This too is hardly topical – in fact the events I wish to consider happened almost twenty years ago.
But after my Zen brother Corny recently wrote a piece on racism – http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/cornelius-on-racism-from-the-liberal-standpoint/ – I was reminded of said event.
If you are over thirty, you probably recall it too. Eric got into a ruck with another player and was sent off. But as he passed through the tunnel, a “fan” shouted racist abuse at him – at which point Eric leapt into the crowd and launched a “kung fu” style attack on him.
The upshot of this attack was that Eric was heavily penalised by the FA and received a two-week prison sentence – reduced on appeal to community service – from the courts, for his actions.
Fair enough – after all, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words/names can never hurt me.”
And whilst the “fan” may have acted both foully and aggressively, he did not launch a PHYSICAL attack on Cantona. Thus Cantona’s actions could not have been countenanced in law.
However, while Eric was rightly ashamed of his part in the drama, it is a fact that the British public were DELIGHTED by his actions.
Indeed, said actions were at least in part responsible for RAISING his career profile – including in the eyes of people who had no interest in football whatsoever and who thus would never have heard of him, had it not been for the “kung fu” incident.
All of which goes to highlight what I see as a FAILING in the British character: next to pædophilia, nothing is guaranteed to inflame its passions more than racism.
Which is fine, provided one does not lose sight of everything else.
Granted that “fan” was an excrescence – but Eric’s actions were NOT justified.
Two wrongs do not make a right. Racism is an evil – but then so is the violence it often leads to. And the one does not justify the other.
Of course today, in Britain, the Cantana incident would be unlikely to recur. If a “fan” behaved like the one did on that day – the CROWD would give him a kicking…