So now calling someone a leprechaun is a hate crime. Bejesus, as we Irish say... What’s the world come to?
I remember once being on assignment in Budapest and – seeing as I am an Irishman – my first port of call was, naturally enough, the nearest watering hole serving creamy pints of Guinness. At the bar, an Englishman tried to strike up a conversation by calling out to me with, “Hello Paddy!”
It was certainly offensive and, yes, even racist, seeing as it was coming from an Englishman, considering our two countries’ tense history.
Seeing the look of indignation on my face, he tried to downplay it as being a term of endearment. But he then understood my POV when I asked him, “How would you feel if I called you a Limey?” – which is a derogatory term for a Brit – “Or if we used the n-word to say hello to those African-Americans over there in the corner?”
Sadly, I’ve been called worse – such as ‘leprechaun’ – several more times since that episode by other ‘Pommies’ (another derogatory term for the British).
Unlike with Americans, when an Englishman calls me a leprechaun or uses the disgusting n-word about, say, a black South African, there is absolutely no difference in the level of racism at play here, because of the oppression both countries suffered under British rule.
But I would certainly never dream of making a big (folk) song and (Irish) dance out of it by lodging a formal complaint with the police.
Yet that’s exactly what just happened in Scotland with a local man named Terry Myers – “sure to be sure,” to use an Irish expression, let’s just publicly embarrass him some more while we’re at it – being fined £280 for calling his ex-girlfriend’s new lover (an Irishman) a leprechaun in an aggressive email.
Perhaps he owed the Paddy a pint by way of apology, but a three-figure sum is nothing short of asinine. It’s “away with the fairies” stuff, to use another Oirish expression.
Now, if you read the fine print of the actual court report, you’ll see that Myers did also threaten him – but the prosecutor went just as heavy on him for the slur as she did for the intimidation, which is bonkers.
Fiscal depute, or public prosecutor, Susan Love – what a surname! – told the Aberdeen court, “Myers pled guilty to sending a message to his ex partner that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character in that it used offensive and derogatory language to refer to her new partner and threatened to assault him.”
I’m flabbergasted that he was dragged over the coals for both “racial and domestic aggravation” when another judge at Liverpool Crown Court said it wasn’t racial abuse to call someone a “f****** leprechaun” in a similar case in 2008.
Even the defendant’s lawyer in that case, Louise McCloskey – who is of Irish descent – was correct when she argued, “It’s political correctness gone mad.”
That judge was clearly misguided to say it wasn’t a racially prejudiced slur, but it’s equally wrong to be brought to book for such a flippant remark. Ask yourself: could you imagine someone being charged for using the ‘Limey’ slur?
There will hopefully be more awareness and respect shown as a result of the BLM movement, not just to black people but to all ethnicities. But we can't be wasting the courts’ time over racist remarks, because – with the way things are going, with statues being pulled down – we could end up with a dedicated Hate Crime Court, which we’d need like a hole in the head.
It would be even more ridiculous than the "medieval" blasphemy laws in Ireland – where cursing God would land you in hot water – that were only officially removed in January 2020, and only after a referendum… I kid you not!
Ireland was turned into an international laughing stock when Stephen Fry almost faced prosecution over that outdated law. The Garda, or police, were legally obliged to open an investigation because a member of the public made an official compliant after the English star said on Irish TV, “Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world so full of injustice and pain?”
I just ask any Brits reading this to remember that as House of Pain – the American-Irish rappers who sang on their song ‘Top O’ The Morning To You’: “I’m Irish, but I’m not a leprechaun.”
Actually, those lyrics are far more offensive than any insult flung at me about the Little People. Perhaps these jokers should be charged with war crimes…
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.