The Magical Three-Word Phrase of the John Terry Trial

By Eric Imhof
John Terry during the Champions League parade – Julian Mason


It will probably never be clear exactly what John Terry and Anton Ferdinand said to one another or in what sequence they said it. Reading the court transcripts only confuses the matter, for me anyway, and no amount of eye-witness accounts, lip readers, or grainy footage will suffice for getting to the bottom of this sad and strange chapter in the English Premier League’s most recent season. The result is that Terry has been acquitted, and now returns to “normal” life with Chelsea.

However, regardless of the turbid waters surrounding this case, the key words “f*cking bl*ck c*nt” have irrevocably entered the fray, and this phrase seems to me to warrant its own corollary discussion.

Looking only at the phrase itself, we find a nice fusion of racism in misogyny; not that either word would lose any sting on its own, but together they form an insult that is especially cringe-worthy. Adding “f*cking” in front only sharpens the dagger.

And yet, this trial focused only on the second word, which begs the question of whether or not it would be an issue if Terry had “only” called Ferdinand a “f*cking c*nt” or just “c*nt.” The matter becomes even trickier when one considers that it was Ferdinand’s girlfriend who first alerted him to the alleged statement after seeing it in a Youtube replay. Shouldn’t she (along with the rest of us) be equally outraged at the fact that people call each other female genitalia as an insult?

I’m still not sure how I feel about this whole Terry-Ferdinand case. I’m going to think about it over the next couple of days, in the manner in which I usually think deeply about things, i.e. while drinking whiskey. Several questions are still swirling around in my head, not unlike the ice cubes that will swirling around in my glass: Should Terry have been charged in the first place? Does something uttered during a match constitute “abuse,” considering the litany of acerbic, downright ungodly sayings that must certainly be flung from both sides from whistle to whistle? Is it good that the magistrate levied the charges, if nothing else than to set an example? Will the English FA now follow suit? Now that John Terry has been acquitted, will it help or hurt racial sensibilities in the league this coming season?

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