When Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch during a game, having suffered a heart attack, the fans held their breath. The nation almost as one wished the young football player well. One man at least was foolish or nasty enough to post a racist tweet. Today he has been convicted and sentenced to 56 days in jail.
The UK quite rightly does not stand for racism in any form. This case however does leave you wondering if the tweet was just one silly young man who did not think. Malicious racism has to be worse.
However though all racism is wrong.
In the past most tragedies have sooner or later been a target for "comedians". The UK is renowned for turning tragedy into jokes. On might quite rightly say, sometimes sick jokes. If the law is to act consistently these must surely also face the full force of the law.
21-year-old student Liam Stacey posted abusive comments as the young football player laid fighting for his life on the pitch. It took the emergency services a great deal of time to restart his heart. Whilst all of this was going on Stacey tweeted, "LOL (laugh out loud). **** Muamba. He's dead!!!" As if this was not bad enough he then went on to post racially abusive tweets directed at black users of Twitter.
The judge accepted that Liam had been drinking at the time of the tweets and took this into account when passing sentence. The judge however said he had also taken into account the general public's abhorrence of the tweets. Liam was jailed for 56 days and collapsed into a weeping heap at the news.
Stacey was a student at Swansea University. He had hoped to become a forensic scientist after gaining the necessary degree. Now his hopes have been shattered. He has been removed form the university course. A third year student he will not not be able to complete his degree course.
Excessive justice? Well the sentence sends out a clear message to other like minded individuals. The UK will not tolerate racism, full stop. Now the UK needs to live by this.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog