BALLAKERMEEN High School students listed on a controversial Facebook group are not racist, school bosses have insisted.
The 95 members of the group, entitled 'Keep the Isle of Man White & Free from Foreigners', included students from every Manx secondary school, but 33 appeared to be currently enrolled at Ballakermeen.
Isle of Man Newspapers staff were made aware of the page earlier this week and were able to access its content before it was removed overnight Wednesday/Thursday.
Several BHS students left messages condemning the group, which described itself as the 'Isle of Man KKK' and bears a picture of a hooded member of the openly racist Ku Klux Klan.
But one student from the school used the term 'nig-nog' (a derogatory reference to a black person) while another wrote: 'Damn blacks and indians (sic), coming over here taking our jobs - who the **** do they think they are?'
BHS deputy head teacher Paul Kane said teachers had alerted Facebook administrators and talked to each student listed as a member of the group since finding out about it on Monday.
He claimed that BHS students had signed up to the group either to criticise it or make sarcastic but inappropriate comments, adding racism was 'really not an issue' at the school.
Mr Kane declined to comment on what action could or would be taken against any students involved.
Today (Thursday), it appeared that the group site, which was still active on Wednesday, had been removed from Facebook. Prior to that, there had been about 40 wall posts. Many were critical, including a number that were posted by the same people.
Many of those listed as having joined the group had not posted any message.
A description of the group by its creator reads: 'There are too many comovers (sic) (non-british) on the Island. They are taking all of the jobs, houses and most of all they are taking advantage of our ****ing Island..... join us and help clense (sic) the Isle of Man.'
One BHS student dismisses the group's supporters as 'racist and immature', to which someone claiming to be a King William's College student replies: 'I'm not paticularly (sic) immature, but I am slightly racist.'
Mr Kane explained the BHS student who posted the comment about 'damn blacks and indians' was a mixed-race student who was 'trying to be ironic rather than serious'.
He said: 'There are one or two ambiguous remarks from our students but we think these were intended as sarcasm. I'm pleased that the vast majority disagree with the sentiments of this group and want nothing to do with it.
'We are very strongly against any racist attitudes in this school and people are left in no doubt about that,' he added. 'Racist incidents are very few and dealt with very firmly.'
Mr Kane said young people often proved to be 'more mature' on issues of race than adults.
He added: 'Our students are sitting day by day with people from increasingly different parts of the world, and it's very rare that we encounter any racist insults or anything like that.
'It's really not an issue for us, although it is something we are very alert to, which is why we were on to this Facebook situation as soon as we knew about it.
'I think and I hope that we are educating generations to be more respectful and tolerant.
'If there is a problem, it is with older members of society who have not grown up in a multi-racial environment.'
A Department of Education spokesman said: 'The department finds the sentiment behind this site deplorable and cannot condone racist comments and viewpoints.
'However, while schools do their best to educate students about tolerance, they obviously have no control over which online groups students join in their free time.
'There is no clear indication how many of the comments are from students. However, the department notes that many of the comments condemn the sentiment behind the group.'
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
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I really don't see why this is deemed newsworthy by the IOM press or why the Dept of Education and BHS needs to get involved. Yes I agree it's an offensive website and should be condemned. Any form of racism should not be tolerated and its good the government is speaking out against it– though technically the work permit system is a discriminatory/racist system. However, if the students signed up to the website, then it has nothing at all to do with the DOE or BHS. The fact that BHS Deputy Head Paul Kane has said they have already spoken to the current students signed up to the website is going too far, especially if it was not done during school time. I'm pretty sure no action could be taken against the students either, otherwise they could sue for breach of their human rights, such as freedom of speech and expression. Remember I'm not supporting the students or this website, just erring on the side of common sense and stating that this should not be blown out of proportion.
Thank you for putting this up! I came to the Island a couple of years ago and hand on heart I have never been anywhere so racist in my life! I am a very open minded person and I see people for their personality and not their skin colour or background. I can honestly say that all my friends are only foreign because the Manx people I have met are not interested in getting to know me. I do think this kids learn this at home from there parents. Why are they so concerned about foreigners taking the jobs when they are obviously still in school? A lot of my friends are Black and the looks they get when we walk down Strand Street are horrible. Small Island, small minds. I don't want to generalise but how can I not when I experiance this behavior everyday? BS
I believe the immaturity and naivety of these students should be dealth with greatly. Children on this island seem to be too big for their own boots, they create a group like this and think they can make a change themselves. I disagree with the first comment as I believe racism is a very serious matter, the harsher the punishment the better as it is unfair to the decent people on this island who work hard and want to live on such a beautiful island, they should not be treated this way. I believe strongly that these people should be 'named and shamed' as it is what they deserve for embarassing and threatening the decent people on this island. If the Department of Education does not do anything about this then they have not improved, they will remain a shambles and a failure.
Dear Sir/Madam The fact that these students would joke or be "ironic" as Mr Kane suggests, highlights how ill educated those individuals are. If I were Mr Kane, or any other teacher at one the schools where students signed up, I would take it as inherent failure of my teaching ability. Those who signed up to this Facebook group should be sent on a trip to experience the attrocities committed in the name of race at Belsen or Auschwitz-Birkenau, or work in a shelter in down town Manhattan where people are shot everyday because of racial hatred. The names of any individuals, including these students, involved in any sort of hate crime, particularly racial, should be put on a register akin to the sex offenders register whose crimes are equally abhorrent. I've lived in many places, rural and urban, throughout England and the Isle of Man, and can say that the Isle of Man is no worse, but in no means any better than Britain. The irony of the whole group is that the majority of those who contributed were probably "come-overs" themselve; immigrants that the gracious Manx Government and its people have allowed to share their island. Racism is the scorge of our time, I think Mr TK needs to open his eyes.
Firstly to TK, you say that any form of racism should not be tolerated...is this not a 'form' of racism? I would like to see the school involved encouraging improved education about diversity. Diversity is not a dirty subject, its the modern world! I moved to the island a number of years ago to be with my partner and thankfully for me, my Manx partner, family and friends are well educated and do not possess the requisite ignorance that racist people appear to have! I would add that the job i took when I came to the island was a job advertised in the UK as the island has a deficit for this particular profession. I would ask some of the students involved and others to maybe think a little deeper about what really underpins their views and whose views these really are, and, at the very least be in possession of the full facts. I'm told that these comments were echoed in the early 1970's when a number of people from Northern Ireland moved to the Isle of Man. At that time the jobs people took were jobs that Manx residents did not want. So this was not about 'white people' it was 'Irish people'...so what has changed?? I am of mixed race extraction and have experienced racist abuse since moving to the island which I reported to the authorities. They appeared genuinely shocked, as thankfully it appears to be a rare incident. I believe this Facebook situation needed to be highlighted, lets not pretend that the Isle of Man is some Utopian existence that is shielded in a bubble of perfection. People coming to the island should be aware that in some respects it is very much like anywhere else, it has its bad and good! People are not born with such views, so lets look at educating young people as they are the future of this island. This is not a new phenomenon.
When I was growing up there wasn't many "foreigners" over here and we were ignorant towards that culture, never racist, but never hardly seeing them so racism wasn't a problem as such, but as were now in 2009 people are moving all over the world including whites moving to spain, austrailia, africa, etc. They have to "put up" with us, so why shouldn't we with them, we are all human for gods sake? I bet all of them eat indian and chinese food and listen to the likes of 50 Cent, Chris Brown, etc. Grow up and get in the 21st century.
We manx people are an ethnic minority now. Its time we closed the leaky border to the UK mainland. Burglaries, assault, degradation in lifestyle and its not as safe as it used to be.
Personally, I am sickened and appalled about the way this group has gone about expressing their views. They have every right to say how they feel about the issue of "comeovers" but I don't feel that they went about things in the correct manner and they should apologise and be severly repremanded for their actions. I know that they have freedom of speech and to express thair views but the lack of subtlety and plain offensive way in whcih they showed teir concerns shocks, as well as saddens me. In my view the students did not do this maliciously and although this is obviosuly wrong I think that it was intended very much in jest. Many people that this group were persicuting had in fact joined this group and not all of them had done so to reply or fight back. The isle of Man does seem, on the outside, to be a racist place, but this is actually not true. Most of th ese jokes are just that, a joke. The people that they are directed too often see the funny side and although this is done inhumour it could be offended. The KKK is wrong and although i do not condone the group I do think it is their human rights to have freedom of speech.
Maybe some of these students do not support the political viewpoint that Multiculturalism has no negative aspects. As citizens of democratic society they are free to express their political views. Our teachers should be teaching our children to think and make up their own minds about lifes issues rather than brainwashing them with a single viewpoint.
What a load of rubbish BS writes! Ethnic minorities don't get strange looks when they walk down Strand Street, nor are the Manx people racist (I am not Manx by-the-way). Manx people do seem to be in the minority, so I can understand why they want to keep the Island Manx. What is wrong with being patriotic? Whilst I'm not condoning racism, people have the right to express an opinion and this is nothing to do with school unless it is done in school time.
I am foreign, I love the Isle of Man and its individuality and if I have children here I'd like them to learn how to speak manx. I have had racist coments and behaviour towwards me and other people I know; sometimes form Manx people other times from British people living here (!). Everytime that happens I wish to know how many manx or british people leave abroad not even bothering learning the language and not caring in the slightest about their culture (just wanting sun and cheap beer). I have to add though, MOST of the people here are very educated, openminded, and even praise us for speaking a second languaje, third in my case. I just hope evryone realises that people ARE moving around the worls, its the 21st century, it is not a case of the Isle of Man being invaded!
I see most of these kids have been mouthing off about so called "comeovers" stealing jobs, housing etc. What I would be more concerned about is my taxes being spent on the education and welfare of these spoiled, ignorant little fools. They (and quite possibly their parents from the sounds of it) should consider taking some extra curricular classes in the economic benefits of a varied workforce. I think I shall demand a small percentage of extra rebate on my Tax form this year, good thing they're cutting down on educational spending this year hey, some of these kids should go and try growing up in the parts of the world the people they are slagging actually come from. That might shut them up.
Whilst I personally don't agree with the content of this Facebook site, as apparently most of the contributors to the site also disagreed! I must actually say I don't think that the students should be named and shamed as a few people have stated. In the first instance because they are minors and I am sure that IOM Newspapers would get in a lot of trouble if they named the individuals. Second of all whilst the views of the minority may be bigoted and not exactly PC they still represent the views of the individual. There will always be a minority of people who for whatever reason (be it personal ignorance or spoon fed to them from a young age by an outside influence) decide they just don't like people of other creeds or religions. The majority of us couldn't care less if a person is black white or orange!! There are too many freedoms being taken away however I'm afraid the race card is being used far too much in this day and age, any discussion on race is treated as taboo and swept under the rug. Rather than condemn the individuals why not try open discussion and not treating them like criminals for having their own views! As long as they do not resort to violence to get their views across, or allow their actions to affect another persons civil liberties they should be entitled to their views whether they conform to the norm of modern society or not! I personally am for euthanasia and abortion! Would anybody like to drag my name through the mud??
CW (Supporter of everybodies rights to freedom of speech)
I have lived in the isle of man now for almost 20 years i am from the UK. I had to live here 10 years before i got a government house work here for 5 years before you get manx Citizenship. And what do the manx say too anyone that comes for outside of the isle of man you are a comeover,Foreigner and another favourite saying is there is a boat in the morning. AND THEY SAY THEY ARE NOT RACIST YEAH RIGHT. I remember a friend of mine was on the housing list and her mother told me she is entitled to a government house as she is manx she said no disrespect to you but these comeover's Foreigners should all be sent back too where they came from. I told her that was racist she claimed it wasn't.
Something should be done in the way the manx treat people racism is here on the isle of man and the government should do something about it.
The FB group was inappropriate; however, the whole thing has just gotten out of hand. The IoM is now getting slated for being racist – which quite frankly it isn't. These small-minded youngsters more than likely didn't realise the trouble the FB group would cause, however they are entitled to an opinion. The fact that this made the Sun & the local newspaper is just silly – like there aren't more groups like this on FB. It just so happens that this one was about the IoM & so called 'comeovers', take a look at England - there is a lot more racism happening over there, just because we have a handful of pupils that started the group should not give others a reason to attack us. Take a look outside of the box, there is a lot more of this going on in other parts of the world.
Dear sir / madam Please follow the link below and people say they are not racist. This is still bad for the isle of man.
Hi As a frequent visitor to your Island, please dont let your openness/honesty be ruined by worrying about expressing opinions (politically sensitive or not), otherwise you will end up with the same watered down drivel you get in the UK. Offence never killed anyone, we have forgotten this in the UK. I have travelled over to the IOM for years without being insulted by anyone (who I didnt know at least) rather than censorship rely on and encourage politeness IMO it's better for everyone concerned- a bus driver from my home city once told me the difference driving on the Island is the kids say thanks- thats worth a million idiots telling you what you are and what you are not allowed to say. Don't let the mind rot seep over there, let people make up their own mind and judge them by their actions. Ta
As a student of Ballakermeen High School, I completely disagree with some of the views expressed by several people commenting on this 'News' Story. Firstly, I have been a student for 5 years and have never experienced one bit of racism. We are educated not to accept racism, and as the majority of us actually want to be educated we take this on board and as a result do not resort to racism. We are also taught respect - which again is another factor in anti-racism. If you go on Facebook you will find plenty of controversial groups - specifically 'hate' groups. Also, someone spoke about the students being 'Immature' and 'Naive'. Sure, they probably are immature, but after all what do you expect from a group of 13/14/15 year olds who have probably not been told any different from their parents? Because that's where i think this stems from - parents, not education. The majority of students at Ballakermeen are mature, willing students who are not shallow enough to judge people on the colour of their skin, but there are the odd few who come to light when something as silly as a facebook group suggests otherwise, and in fact makes people think every student is like that. And also, children on the Isle of Man are not 'too big for their own boots' they're just children, and i'm sure you were like that one day, maybe not joining 'kkk' groups, but then again computers are a new technology that my generation are fluent in, and yours not so.
I'm tired of hearing this thing about all Manx people being racist! It makes me sick to think that there are people out there who will stereotype all Manx people as disliking or even hating other races. I am Manx and I go to BHS and I am not at all racist, my best friend is Asian and I get exceedingly angry if there are any kind of racist comments said around me or her. Sterotypes such as: "And what do the manx say too anyone that comes for outside of the isle of man you are a comeover,Foreigner and another favourite saying is there is a boat in the morning. AND THEY SAY THEY ARE NOT RACIST YEAH RIGHT." I say I'm not racist and I find it totally disrespectful for you to even say we are all like that. I'm sure you will find much worse things than this. I believe that simply because the island is small, that people have accentuated this problem to a much higher level than it ought to have been. Look at the UK! They're hardly racism free and you won't find ANYWHERE that is racism free so why make the island sounds especially so? I am not condoning racism, I think it's dispicable but this whole thing has blown out of proportion.
I Think that the whole thing has been blown way out of proportion at the end of the day people can and will think what they want! As a former ex student from ballakermeen only last year i no the anger that is felt by the locals, as the likes of the polish sit there talk there talk there own language, laugh at you, at the end of the day sooner or later the locals are going to snap, when you walk into shops and you have foreigners behind the counter that can barely speak english or on the boat where they cant understand you! Its ridiculous It should also not be allowed that muslims are allowed to walk round school with nothing but there eyes showing, if a english kid was to do that you would be getting pulled into the headoffice. If they live other here they should adhire to our way of life and the rules. If you ask me this has been coming for a long time, The manxies and locals are not the only ones to blame, the foreigners should be as well.