A rare thing has just happened: common sense has prevailed.
Last week, the English Football Association (FA) ruled that Manchester United winger Alejandro Garnacho would face no charges for a social media post celebrating his teammate André Onana making a vital last-minute penalty save in a Champions League match. Why would he face charges for such a thing anyway? Because, hoping to praise Onana’s physical prowess, he also posted two gorilla emojis alongside a photo of the goalkeeper in question – who just happens to be a very large black man from Cameroon.
To his immense credit, Mr. Onana anticipated the inevitable FA-led witch-hunt against Garnacho that would follow if he stayed silent, quickly backing his team-mate with a post of his own:
Those are very sensible words: “People cannot choose what I should be offended by.” The trouble is, we no longer live in a terribly sensible world, and people are constantly going around deciding just that. This phenomenon does not yet seem to have acquired a specific name of its own, but I would like to propose we christen it ‘compelled offence’, the dark inverted twin of that other common scourge of contemporary discourse, ‘compelled speech’.
The FA’s approach in applying such compelled offence rules appears inconsistent, however. In 2009, the organisation banned Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva for one game and fined him £50,000 for a hastily-deleted tweet comparing a childhood photo of his then-team-mate and close friend Benjamin Mendy, a black Frenchman, to the ultra-cute brown-skinned mascot of a popular brand of Spanish chocolate-covered peanuts named Conguitos: