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An analysis and personal comment on the Y-word consultation

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In which I make a personal decision that I'm not forcing on anyone.

Now that the three Tottenham Hotspur fans who were arrested for using the word 'Yid' will not be prosecuted, the club has issued what they unearthed during a fan consultation into use of the word. You can find the whole thing here, and I recommend reading it. But I thought it would be worthwhile to offer some commentary, as well as some personal reflection on the term, while breaking the report up into easily digestible chunks.

First, the extremely obvious 'no duh' part of their report. About two-thirds of Spurs fans use the word and a higher number than that don't have a problem with Spurs fans using it.

The consultation that was carried out, showed that, whilst the majority of all the respondents, 67%, stated that they regularly chanted the word in a football match situation, virtually all qualified this behaviour by putting this into context and outlining many of the issues associated with its use.

The follow-up sentiment analysis carried out by Populus showed that 74% of non-Jewish respondents and 73% of Jewish respondents were generally in favour of fans being allowed to use the Y-word while 12% of non-Jewish respondents and 8% of Jewish respondents stated that they were either unsure or held a neutral position on whether fans should be allowed to continue to use the word.

We all could have guessed that. But here's where I think it starts to get interesting.

Some supporters outlined in their comments how the term came into use in response to anti-Semitic chanting from rival supporters with a significant proportion of fans (39% of non-Jewish respondents and 29% of Jewish respondents) stating that the word was part of Spurs' "heritage and identity".

Are you getting what I'm getting out of that? A majority of Spurs fans think that the word is not necessarily a significant part of the club's heritage and identity. A much higher percentage of Jewish respondents feel this way than non-Jewish respondents. This matters.

A number of supporters, (12% of non-Jewish respondents and 18% of Jewish respondents) outlined that they were against allowing fans to continue to use the term with 4% of non-Jewish fans and 6% of Jewish fans specifically stating that they were personally uncomfortable with its use.

This is also significant. This is not anywhere near a majority, but we should probably take into consideration that 18 percent of Jewish respondents would like everyone to stop. It's not just some lone nut that thinks chanting it is a bad idea, lots of people do.

Which brings us to this.

13% of the non-Jewish fans were of the view that if people found the term offensive it should be dropped (compared with 4% of Jewish respondents), while a number of fans (8% of non-Jewish respondents and 9% of Jewish respondents) specifically identified that it was now time to phase out the use of the term.

This is kind of strange to me. A not insignificant 18 percent of Jewish respondents think that people should not be allowed to use the term, but only 9 percent said it was time to phase out use of the term. Does this mean that some of those 18 percent thought 'phase out' was too lenient? Or that they are against the use of the term, but also against telling other people what to do?

Personally, as a non-Jewish supporter, I am neither uncomfortable with the term, nor do I think it's central to the club's identity. I don't feel the need to use the term and I would prefer that the term be phased out gradually. But I'm also against telling people not to do something that is not genuinely offensive or harmful to others, and this kind of toes the line. Some people -- a not totally insignificant 6 percent of Jewish respondents -- are genuinely offended. A vast, vast majority are not.

So I'm going to stop saying the Y-word. I'm not going to tell you to stop using it and I'm certainly happy that the three Spurs fans who were brought up on charges are not going to jail, but I am making the decision to not chant the word or use it in posts here anymore. I'm not going to ask new friends to sing the songs with the word if they get into following the team. But I'm also not going to tell you not to use it, I'm not going to ban it from the comments and I'm not going to tell my co-writers they can't use it.

For now, I think it's fair to leave the use of the word up to personal decisions. Maybe a gradual, unforced phasing out will happen over time, and I feel that's probably for the best. Especially if only roughly one-third of supporters think the word is a big part of our identity.