Northern Ireland Assembly member Mike Nesbitt has been criticised for a tweet accusing Simon Zebo of ageism.
It followed the news that an Ulster fan had been banned for life by the province after racially abusing Zebo during their game against Racing 92 at the Kingspan Stadium earlier this month.
Nesbitt (61) said Zebo shouldn't have described the spectator who abused him as "an elderly man, like 40-plus".
Zebo (28) had made the remark in describing the incident as particularly disappointing because of the age of the man, compared to similar comments he faced from kids growing up.
"It was something that happened to me quite a bit when I was younger, you know you're dealing with other kids or children or teenagers, who don't have the intellect or education at the time to understand how things like that can hurt a person," he told Rugby Pass.
"So it was even more disappointing that I went home and it was an elderly man, like 40-plus, so that's why it just annoyed me a bit."
The former Ulster Unionist Party leader tweeted: "First and foremost Simon Zebo should not have been abused by the Ulster fan who shouted something inappropriate - but Zebo shouldn’t describe him as 'an elderly man, like 40 plus'. Ageism, racism, both wrong".
First and foremost Simon Zebo should not have been abused by the Ulster fan who shouted something inappropriate - but Zebo shouldn’t describe him as “an elderly man, like 40 plus”. Ageism, racism, both wrong— Mike Nesbitt (@mikenesbittni) January 22, 2019
Nesbitt faced criticism online for equating the two things and ignoring the context of the comments.
1) The fact you see parallels between the two is ridiculous!!
2) Ageism is the prejudice or discrimination against an individual or group based on their age. Did Zebo hold a prejudice against this man due to age? No. Did he discriminate against this man based on his age? No.
— Gavin Yore (@gavinyoreNMT) January 23, 2019
Mike. I'm nearly 40. I'm viewed as old by people who are younger. That's quite a normal perspective. Please don't equate it to rascism.
— liam norris (@liamnorris1001) January 23, 2019
But at opposite ends of that spectrum. Racism is not to be equated with ageism.— Alison Graham (@ecolitical) January 22, 2019
Apart from the ridiculous false equivalence you’re drawing here, Simon Zebo is not an IRFU player. Can’t believe you don’t see how bad this take makes you look.— Chris McCann (@canntoya) January 22, 2019
If Zebo wasn’t abused , he wouldn’t have had to describe the man as elderly , or anything for that matter .
— Elaine Young (@ElaineYoung94) January 22, 2019
Of course not, I’m in my 40s too. Unfortunately, people in their teens & twenties , see anyone over 40 as old/elderly. I don’t see it as an insult, just the naivety of youth. We all thought 40 was old when we were 20.— Elaine Young (@ElaineYoung94) January 22, 2019
I genuinely thought this was a parody account. There was nothing detrimental regarding a description of age. I’m pretty sure @agenipolicy would agree.
— Aaron (@aaronmacn) January 22, 2019
I took "elderly" as meaning the person abusing Zebo, abusing him to the extent that Ulster have banned him for life, was sufficiently old to have known better.
— Paul Nixon (@PolNixon) January 22, 2019
Wise up Mike. Never had you down as a Snowflake. He was racially abused!!! I’m over forty I don’t think I’d die in a ditch over being called old.. it’s all relevant to how you perceive “old”. We should be trying to move on not side swiping @SimonZebo for an off the cuff comment
— Ian Pollard (@sapper3164) January 23, 2019
The two really can't be compared in the same sentence Mike. This was a poor error in judgment.
— Steve Henning (@steviehenning) January 22, 2019
Only for the blue tick you would seriously think this was a parody account.... I have been described by students as elderly and I am 24...
— padj kelly (@padjkelly) January 23, 2019
Are you havin a giraffe, Mike?— Squinter (@squinteratn) January 22, 2019
That’s because you’re old— Squinter (@squinteratn) January 22, 2019