Ben Macintyre’s suggestion
(Comment, 24 April 24 2004) that we must never say in private
what we would not say in public seems to me absurd. It contravenes
a basic rule of human intercourse and brings the thought police
into the bedroom.
I see the Ron Atkinson affair the
other way round. Mr Atkinson has demonstrated by his actions
over many years that he is the direct opposite of a racist. He
should not now be condemned by a few thoughtless words
to penalties that are wholly out of proportion to what he did.
There are people who would seek to
dehumanise us by inhibiting natural speech. Our ancestors, who
devised the proverb ‘sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will never hurt me’, were more sensible.1