Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand can now add a notch to his belt; he now has the distinction of being the only footballer (who I can think of, offhand) to be fined for a retweet. We all remember John-Terry-gate, no? Well one of the many satellite stories to this saga was Ferdinand’s retweet of someone calling Chelsea’s Ashley Cole, who defended Terry, “choc ice.”
Ferdinand will be fined $70,630 by the English Football Association for said action. That’s one expensive retweet.
For those of you who don’t know, “choc ice” is a frozen dessert generally consisting of an inner core of vanilla ice cream covered by chocolate, similar to what we in the US would call an ice cream sandwich. Cole, who is black, apparently has a white center, according to the usage of the term in this context, since he defended John Terry, his teammate, instead of throwing him under the bus (or demonstrating solidarity with Rio’s brother, Anton).
Well, I’ve been saying that free speech is a myth for some time, but this instance really helps hammer that truth home to all the pollyannas who read this rag sheet (I assume there are very few). Seventy grand for retweeting another person’s comment? Sounds pretty Orwellian to me. (And isn’t a shame that “Orwellian” has come to mean characteristic of the state of affairs that Orwell railed against, and not the causes he championed? But I digress.)
So just when we thought (and hoped) the John Terry saga was dead and buried, it has most likely been resurrected for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Yes, calling Cole a choc ice is in extremely bad taste. But a retweet draws a $70,000 fine, while all kinds of real crimes are being continually committed (mostly by the corporate sponsors) in the tangible, material world? That just seems, well, dumb. I hope I don’t get fined for saying so.