“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” —Abraham Lincoln
“Oh, thank you very much I’m glad you enjoyed it. Perhaps maybe a little… Hamlet?”
“No. I know Hamlet. And what he might say with irony I say with conviction. “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty. In form, in moving, how express and admirable. In action, how like an angel. In apprehension, how like a god…”"
“Surely you don’t see your species like that do you?!”
“I see us one day becoming that, Q. Is that what concerns you?”
—Picard and Q, “Hide and Q”, Star Trek: The Next Generation
I’m not really a humanist, because I know—perhaps more than most in my role as a football blogger—that people are dicks. But I also fervently believe that this fundamental fact about ourselves should not be viewed as an unshakable predicate for which we should make contingencies, but rather an odious condition against which we should be in perpetual struggle.
The going view right now in several quarters is that Luis Suarez did what any good player should do by scoring a winning goal with his the aid of his hand; break the rules and try to avoid getting caught in order to help his team win. The arguments in favour of this are broad, if not deep. Several hint at a kind of prejudice and call out the hypocrisy in Suarez being called out for committing a deliberate handball while others are not. Others point the English media’s need to have a ‘pantomime villain.’ Some others attempt to paint the handball as incidental, rather than intentional, which only the most generous analysis upon several repeat viewings could conclude. Still more argue that because the vast majority of other players would do the same as Suarez, it makes it okay. Some attempt a shot-gun approach, and dump everything in the mixer in the hope something will wash away the completely normal sense of injustice that follows the realization a person deliberately broke the rules to help win.
Think of this in the context of any other rule-based situation in real life, even in situations far more harmless, and you see the ridiculousness of it. Stealing candy from the corner store is okay because a lot of kids steal, and adults steal but they never get punished, and it’s not really stealing because corporations are evil, and the store owner makes most of his money from cigarettes, which is also wrong. That dodging and swerving is simple equivocation. But it is not vindication. Suarez is certainly not special in his behaviour as far as footballers go. But that in and of itself does not make the handball any less wrong, or any less risible.
That’s true even though none of this really matters in the fullness of time. Mansfield’s hopes and dreams surely didn’t rest on an FA Cup tie, and football ideally is a game that’s supposed to be fun. But the depressing familiarity of the football partisan going to elaborate lengths to argue that a clear wrong is somehow made right because the wrong-doer plays for your tribe hints at something more darkly universal. Not simply that we’re dicks—which we intractably, hopelessly are—but that we’re fine with it, particularly when it gives our little group an advantage.
Canadian Kyle Bekker signs MLS contract.
Rodgers defends Suarez, says it’s not his job to own up to handball.
Lampard will leave Chelsea in the summer.
Ahead of FA Cup tie against Everton, Cheltenham reports items stolen from training ground.
Napoli show interest in Balotelli, would rather add to team than sell Cavani.
Vilanova thanks fans for support.
Schalke not worried about Holtby vacuum, Draxler an ideal replacement.
Bit and Bobs
Blatter under fire again, this time for racism comments.
James Horncastle believes Kevin-Prince Boateng’s decision to walk off the pitch was the right one.