Here’s the news from the BBC:

“A councillor has been found guilty of racial harassment after she called a political opponent a “coconut”.

Liberal Democrat Shirley Brown called Asian Conservative Jay Jethwa a “coconut” during a debate at Bristol City Council in February 2009.

District Judge Simon Cooper, sitting at Bristol Magistrates’ Court, told Mrs Brown: “You made a mistake this time. You have to accept responsibility.”

He gave Mrs Brown a 12-month conditional discharge.

She was also ordered to pay £620 costs, following the trial on Monday.

The term coconut has been used to accuse someone of betraying their race or culture by implying that, like a coconut, they are brown on the outside but white on the inside.”

The epithet, ‘coconut’ is an unpleasant one. It is certainly a racialised term of abuse. One could not meaningfully call a white person a ‘coconut’. But it is telling that its close counterpart – a ‘wigger’ – would probably not be regarded as racist slang.If it is, Tim Westwood should contact the police, urgently.

The problem, I think, is this. At the moment, in our political culture, it is commonplace to talk of ethnic and cultural groups as if they were homogeneous blocs. If that’s your starting point, then it follows that there can be such a thing as a ‘race traitor’.

You may want to resist such a politics. I certainly would. But I question whether the criminal conviction of a councillor does much to advance that cause.


Bored in Kavanagasau in the comments below provides the link. She isn’t very impressive, is she?