I must admit I've not read all of the messages in this thread (they're quite detailed and I'm watching the match more than the board... BOOOOOM! 1-1!), so these points have probably already been covered, but my tuppence worth:
- attacks etc aren't treated more severely in football, they're just more high profile. Terry wasn't found guilty (like many many people daily), and the Kirkland fan was arguably treated more harshly as the evidence against him was so clear due to cameras and he was a customer in Kirkland's place of work, I'd expect my employers to push for the hardest punishment if the same happened to me.
- I don't begrudge them for being more high profile cases, as I believe they set a precedent and are almost a summary of was is and isn't/should and shouldn't be acceptable in our society. I think it's probably the most public microcosm (I know, hark at me using words like that on a football board!) of life in the UK with minimal international crossover we have, and as such the ethics (I guess that's the best word) of it are valuable to the nation as a whole.
- crimes are rightly judged on a case by case basis, footballers might be deemed to be judged more harshly for e.g. fines as it's a % of income.
- there's no excuse for these behaviours on or off the pitch. If the FA do their job properly - as with any organising body - all cases in football will be followed up. HOWEVER, it's virtually always the individual's decision in non-major abuse cases - racial, physical, or anything else. In football the players often (are made to?) feel they have an obligation to see it through, whereas in day to day life people (are made to?) feel they're 'making a fuss' if they do. Hopefully football can show they can follow these cases through.
- SB, this is one of the rare times I agree emphatically with your point! I believe homophobia is a much bigger problem in football, because no player has been bold enough to stand up to it in the same manner as racism.