There have been several high-profile back-and-forth accusations and denials of racism on football pitches in England and continental Europe this week, and while most journalists, bloggers and fans have taken the sane route—awaiting judgment from the authorities on the matter while condemning any and all racist behaviour from fans and players alike—the Daily Mail columnist Steve Doughty took a different and not-exactly-commendable option.

After describing a recent incident of racism from a fan at a football match in which the offender swiftly apologized to those around him for the outburst, Doughty says it was much worse “30 years ago,” and therefore:

Football reflects us all as it always did, and these days it’s both racist and not racist at the same time. Things may not be perfect but, at the end of the day, Gary, there are worse things to complain about.

So, Mr Evra and Mr Ferdinand, I know you feel insulted. But perhaps in this case you could just put up with it and get on with the game.

This argument is on the same logical plane as saying, “Well, we don’t lynch them anymore, could be a lot worse, they (non-white players) should be chuffed to be called ‘n*gger’ or ‘black c*nt.’”

There are and always will be racists in this world, sadly. In some sense, they’re not the core of the problem; rather, the problem is when racists are given moral license to be racist by equivocators writing in national newspapers like Mr. Doughty. If this kind of “opinion” is what passes for reasoned discourse in parts of the football world, racists will feel happy to go ahead being racist with the indirect backing of the mainstream press because, you know, it used to be a lot worse.