Gary Lineker’s fundamentally humane and compassionate comment on the migrant crisis sparked a craze of misguided and deplorable criticism, most notably from the notorious Sun, who called for his removal from BBC’s Match of the Day.
Branded, most crudely, as a ‘Leftie Luvvie’ by The Sun’s ever original team of alliterative geniuses, the Ex-England international lapped up the criticism, conceding it is but a pinch when compared to the pain of “being a refugee fleeing” your home.
So, what was the tweet that outraged thousands of twitter users and led to a media campaign?
“The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What’s happening to our country?”
Clearly, one can see that those hopelessly indignant souls have irrefutable ground to feel outraged upon. How dare someone express a view, and valid one at that? (The torrent of abuse and hate towards refuges on social media is indeed utterly disgraceful).
It is a sad indictment on our outrage culture that a person in a position of relative influence is attacked because of a morally solid opinion.
Those who disapprove of Lineker’s comments claim that someone who represents the BBC and is a presenter of a football programme is not allowed to freely express himself. Simply ludicrous. If you cannot separate his comments on Jose Mourinho’s apparent meltdown from his stance on migration then you may be due an appointment at the doctors.
Perhaps, this isn’t an incident in isolation; perhaps it is something born from a culture that feels woefully impotent in the midst of a political storm that has seen the U.K. decide to the leave the European Union and The U.S. elect a Donald Trump as the leader of the free world.
Imagine the scene, @Anonymous124 sits in front of his computer screen, angry at how the world is evolving into something he/she feels estranged from. Logging onto Twitter he/she sees Mr. Lineker’s tweets and instantly latches onto something, or someone, they can effect. He/she can join the growing sense of outrage at his tweets. Finally, @anonymous124 has discovered something he/she can actually contribute towards. They smirk in delight as a leading newspaper calls for Lineker’s head on a plate.
Social media is an absolutely fantastic tool for the dissemination of intelligent insights on the world, even if one’s view on the impact of post-colonial guilt on the U.K.’s fiscal policy has to be boiled down to 140 characters. If we start to crack-down on those who share an opinion simply because they have a large following, we begin to nullify freedom of speech.
Oh, don’t be so pedantic. It’s Gary Lineker, it has nothing to do with the attack on free-speech.
Oh, but it does. If someone who has a great deal of followers can’t use his influence to impart humanitarian wisdom simply because he hosts a popular football show, then we initiate a process which has frightening consequence: a process of intangible censorship.
In fact, Gary Lineker is fast becoming one of the most sage and diplomatic voices within populist Twitter. His tweets are calm and measured, seeking to dispel hate.
I don’t particularly like Mr. Lineker, for reasons that are wholly irrelevant to this article, so this lamentation at the reaction of his tweets isn’t born from a fanatical worship of the MOTD presenter. What it is born from, however, is a concern at the toddler culture that is quickly becoming prevalent in the 21st Century. Perpetuated by inflammatory and partisan media outlets, our society is quickly becoming wrapped up in a spiral of petty hate and othering.
In a bid to spell the doom that undercuts this feature, it was pleasing to see a plethora of support for Lineker, especially by those in similar proximities to influence. Indeed, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn commended his actions with a host of journalists doing like-wise.
Rather than being remonstrated, Lineker should be praised for standing up for people who have been the victim of a complicated and complex war; instead of castigating Lineker for empathising with a group of people that is shamefully becoming a pariah community, Lineker should be the recipient of congratulation as he seeks to utilise his influence for good.