The response to the FA's decision to ban Luis Suarez for eight matches has been unsurprisingly partisan.
I felt sorry for John Barnes, who was asked to give his view on something close to his heart on two, opposing, fronts: on the one hand as a Liverpool legend who remains close to the club, but on the other as a victim of terrible racist abuse as a player.
As a result, his comments were contradictory: he accused the FA and media of conducting a "witch hunt" against Suarez, before admitting that a zero-tolerance policy to racism should be followed.
I would hate to be put in his position by, say, a Manchester United or QPR player being in the dock for a similar offence.
So I am going to try and be balanced.
To be honest I was shocked that Suarez got eight games on the word of another player for something that, while wrong, appears to have been out of ignorance rather than malice.
But, at the same time, I was disappointed by how vehemently Liverpool have leapt to the defence of their player, claiming conspiracies and getting their players to wear t-shirts and the rest of it.
Talking about the ban, I find it odd that firstly someone can be punished on one man's word against his — we are yet to see the report, so we don't know if Suarez admitted to using the offending word, but I have a feeling that he must have done. He told the Uruguayan media that he addressed Evra using a specific word, one that is assumed is a variation on the n-word, but with less offensive connotations in parts of Latin America, if you believe what people have been saying.
I also find it surprising that, given there appears to be no video or even witness evidence, he should be banned so heavily for it.
If we were able to punish on one man's word, many moons ago we would have seen players banned for 20 games given the stuff that was said man-to-man. People used to say all kinds of nasty and sometimes racial stuff to put you off your game, although it's of great credit that it doesn't happen so much now.
I don't know the full context of what and how it was said, but the FA have made a decision that — given the rise in racist incidents recently — is in line with the blueprint they have set out, one over which they have criticised FIFA and UEFA for not following it stringently enough.
Personally I would have been in favour of a shorter ban, and perhaps the FA and club — and other clubs — organising a cultural awareness programme so that foreign players can never use the old "in my country..." line as an excuse for, say, racial terms, spitting, or flagrant diving. There's certainly enough money in the game to pay for a course, or lectures, on the matter!
But they have gone for a straight, draconian punishment that has also set a strong precedent, given the accusations against John Terry — although the fact that his incident was deemed so serious the police got involved ironically means the FA's hands are tied, for now at least.
But the way Liverpool have dealt with this hasn't been right.
I don't really buy this 'cultural differences' ploy that Suarez's supporters have tried to play. Firstly, I have yet to hear anything from a black South American player saying he's happy to be called 'negrito' or whatever Suarez is supposed to have said (this is the word Uruguayans have said is the term folk use that can cause offence in Europe).
Given that this forms the entire basis of the defence that his Uruguayan friends, such as Gus Poyet, have made, it would be interesting to hear if it is widely accepted as inoffensive, or if simply Uruguayan culture is a little bit behind the times in its use of such terms. Back when I was a player, in the '80s, QPR fans used to sing "he's small, he's black, he's England's centre-back" at me and I accepted it, although I wasn't totally comfortable with it — now that would be seen as unacceptable. Is the context different for this word Suarez reportedly used, or has Uruguay just been a little slow to catch up? Has anyone thought to ask what black people in Uruguay think about being called such words? Do they accept it because they feel they have no choice?
Also, people are making out that Suarez has an ignorance of how one is supposed to behave in Northern Europe, like he's just come off the boat or something. He hasn't — he spent five years in Holland (which, the last time I looked, is pretty well developed), including a season playing alongside Edgar Davids at Ajax.
Would he speak to Davids that way? Or Clarence Seedorf? Or any black Dutch player? I doubt it somehow, particularly given how annoyed a lot of Holland's black players have been in the past about perceived racial bias, let alone overt comments.
I'm also concerned by Liverpool's responses (and there have been many), making such big statements and using flawed logic to do so.
So he has black team-mates here and in Uruguay? So what. Plenty of racists work with black people in offices up and down the country.
And Patrice Evra has never made such allegations before — those allegations were made by other people, about abuse they believed had been directed at Evra. But Liverpool said Evra had made false allegations. Really dodgy ground, and that of the conspiracy theorist.
The t-shirts thing is a bit off too — getting the team to wear these t-shirts, when the guy has been punished for racial abuse (whatever the context or intent) is really weak when Liverpool are supposed to be at the forefront of the Kick It Out campaign.
Are we supposed to believe that all his team-mates support him because they're wearing a t-shirt? We know full well that, when fans are so vehement on a given subject, players stay clear of breaking the mould for fear of jeopardising their livelihoods.
I think the real reason Liverpool have chosen to support Suarez so vociferously is because he's their best player by a mile — and without Steven Gerrard, they look worryingly like a one-man team, one-dimensional without him.
Whatever happens, Evra will continue to be a hate figure among fans, because that's the way football works. People have seriously been claiming — Liverpool too — that he broke some unwritten rule by complaining about verbal abuse, which directly contradicts everyone's claims to be against racism. Are you in, or are you out? Do you think it's okay to make racial references to strangers, or do you think it's wrong? Or do you just think your man should be able to get away with it because he's good at football?
Everyone, and not just Liverpool, is eagerly awaiting the FA's full report on this — including no doubt the Court of Arbitration for Sport, UEFA and FIFA.
If it turns out the punishment was meted solely on the basis of one man's word against another, I would be very concerned and am sure an appeal to the FA or even CAS could see some kind of reduction to the ban.
But if — as has been suggested — Suarez admitted using a certain word, but explained that he was unaware it had racist overtones, then you have to support the FA's decision to punish him, but maybe question the length of the ban.
Otherwise all the talk about kicking racism out of football, all the criticism of the Spanish and Bulgarian fans for racist chanting, and all the barbs at Sepp Blatter will just have been hot air.
Game of the weekend — Liverpool v Blackburn
Technically it's not the weekend, but Boxing Day is as good as. Unfortunately there is little to write home about in terms of match-ups, with Chelsea-Fulham probably the biggest game in terms of rivalry and scale, and Liverpool-Blackburn in terms of controversy and importance.
You don't know what you're going to get from Liverpool against the weaker teams, while Blackburn could do anything against a bigger club, as Arsenal found out earlier this season.
While they may be a mess, Blackburn are up for it and the players - who may not get paid if reports are to believed - are looking to put themselves in the shop window.
Liverpool meanwhile tend to suffer against the smaller teams. Talk of the title is wholly premature. With Gerrard injured, Liverpool are a one-man team and without Suarez they are the team we saw last season — negative and lacking creativity. Charlie Adam does okay but he hasn't got the legs to handle a high-tempo game, which is what you'll get with Rovers.
Suarez is a phenomenal player and, while he doesn't score as often as he could, he creates so much in terms of opportunities and total panic in defences. Also, I think that while temperamental he is mentally strong and will not let the furore around his ban affect his game.
Blackburn are hit and hope to be honest, as liable to sit back and go long ball as they are to attack. Tactically they are basic, relying heavily on Yakubu waking up on the right side of bed, and defensively they are naïve.
That is in part down to the injury problems — Gael Givet is a massive loss with his heart problem, while we should be kind to Scott Dann after what happened to him the other day. So you have Chris Samba and an ageing Ryan Nelsen to count on, and if Nelsen is out they're in all kinds of trouble. The Michel Salgado situation is absurd as he is one of those guys who leads by example, and puts his body on the line. He has a minor injury they say but I understand they won't play him for fear of activating a contract clause they cannot afford.
That says it all about Blackburn — no one knows what the hell the owners are doing, what they want and why they are there in the first place. Everyone is on poor Steve Kean's back, and while I think much of the abuse is uncalled for, he clearly hasn't got a clue.
The only question is "when will he get the sack"? But the thing is, they can't afford to sack him! The only reason he's in that job is because he was desperate for a shot at management, and no top coach would work under those conditions for that money.
It would be good to know why — and how — they sacked Big Sam. Are they still paying him off? Did they really think they could get a big-name coach, and the big-name players they promised, on no money? We all know Kean is on the books of the agency that advised Venky's on the takeover, but what good is it to either party if the club goes down? Maybe they're secret Burnley fans.
If they do get rid of Kean they'll probably have to keep paying him until some money comes in — but any decent coach will ask for a good wage and a lump sum for keeping them up.
There's talk of Pini Zahavi getting involved, and Avram Grant coming in. He would cheer things up at Ewood. Grant has a proven track record — two relegations in a row.
They'll go down and they'll struggle to come straight back. All they can hope for is the likes of QPR, Norwich and Swansea tailing off badly, and one of Wigan and Bolton failing to turn it round.
Liverpool, meanwhile, have to win games like this, and not be complacent — as they were against Wigan, who could have beaten them. Either way, I think this game has got goals, and a bit of drama.