OPINION: Ollie Robinson should be made an example of over offensive posts
- Credit: PA
Dragging out decade-old racist and sexist tweets by a rising national cricket star and striking his name from the England test match team sheet was unjust, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said.
“Ollie Robinson’s tweets were offensive and wrong,” he tweeted.
“They are also a decade old and written by a teenager. The teenager is now a man and has rightly apologised. The ECB has gone over the top by suspending him and should think again.”
Dowden’s boss, Boris Johnson, led an echoing chorus in support of Robinson keeping his place in the team.
Rugby star Brian Moore tweeted: “I’m glad they didn’t have social media when I was a teenager.”
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But enveloping Robinson with such vocal support and sympathy for the mistake of a young man while the English Cricket Board contemplated what steps it took next did the player no favours whatsoever. The complete opposite, in fact.
To be so quick to want to brush Robinson’s conduct under the carpet and telling the ECB to “think again” catapulted the UK and its attitudes back to the 1970s.
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Keeping schtum and letting the ECB shape its own reaction would have been far more helpful actions by Dowden and Johnson. All they proved is that the white and privileged don’t understand the issue at all, illustrated by feeling they had a right to speak on behalf of people they don’t understand.
The force of Robinson’s avalanche of support has been white and privileged – white, male and stale - who are quick to shout that anti-Muslim and black material ‘deemed offensive’ are “just jokes” or “banter.”
For Robinson’s support to come from those who have no idea what it feels like to be the subject of offensive comments illustrates exactly why Robinson’s poor judgement as a younger man needs to be an example of what is totally unacceptable conduct, and his role model status examined.
The white and privileged cannot speak on behalf of the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community. They have no right or understanding if people should or should not be offended or upset by tweets like Robinson. How could they know how it feels?
Their intervention throws more light on the depth of the endemic issue and how embedded these attitudes and dictates at what BAME people should or should not.
Robinson is clearly contrite, but he was 19, not 13. He was old enough to vote, drink, marry, drive and go to war. He wasn’t a child.
There’s no doubt he has worked hard to get where he has in his sport. But future prospects for his international career won’t be bruised, not like the targets of his tweets that endure this sort of offensive language and distributes day in day out.
The issue is wider than his place in the team. It’s about education to show young people that misjudgements and unacceptable conduct on social media comes back to bite at any time in their lives.
Robinson will move on. Life is all about learning from mistakes, dealing with the consequences of our actions, rehabilitation and becoming better and making amends. His suspension from international duty is a personal disappointment.
But the substance of the comments he made 10 years ago are still prevalent and prove that attitudes in the UK to more than half the world’s population haven’t changed. Nasty, hateful and negative views about people because of the colour of their skin or religion demonstrate whole swathes of society haven’t moved on.
Excusing him for it reinforces the above.
Zero tolerance of any racism – with no exceptions – is the only acceptable place to be.
As Joe Root said: “It’s a lesson to everyone in the game.”
“More has to be done, that continued education and learning about how to behave in society and within our sport.
“We want to make the game as inclusive and diverse as we possibly can, and we’ll continue to keep looking at finding ways to make that possible.”
For a game that is largely rooted in public schools and middle class, cricket has a big job on it hands, as big as football, the national workplace and, too sadly, much of the British psyche.
There’s a long road ahead
Fashion own goal
“Modesty” has been bandied around this week in two outrages focused on the sexualisation of girls.
Fashion chain New Look claimed selling padded bikini tops for nine-year-olds to give them the look of breasts was to “provide modesty for the wearer”. Olympic-standard clutching at straws.
A school’s introduction of “modesty shorts” to its uniform to stop tiny girls showing their knickers during carefree cartwheels has horrified parents.
Modesty is a hideous word and one that throws the onus on girls – and parents – to consider the effects a little girl’s body has on men - the presumption men can't control their behaviour, and the girl needs to take responsibility
It makes me shudder.
Girls have always dressed up in their mum’s clothes, which is very different from parents buying teeny tiny foam-padded fake boobs for their nine-year-old.
It is not just wrong, it’s weird. And New Look expect parents to buy them, which is even weirder.
As for the ‘modesty shorts”, is a "no underwear on show" rule good whatever the sex and teaching children to keep private what they want private or should we let children be children and carefree?
The motivation for both is sickening.