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Presenters In A Spot Of Bother- Sexism And Choice Of Words

Thundery wintry showers


The Andy Gray story has developed widespread publicity now and I've given some opinions of my own in the relevant thread of the forum. I felt that the comments on Sian Massey crossed the line between "jokes" and "personal sexist remarks", and that the reprimand and suspension was a fair punishment. However, I then felt that the sacking as reaction to the stuff that was leaked afterwards was OTT.

The overall verdict on these things is that the punishments should fit the crimes, and that the rules should be the same for everyone. The norm is for men to be punished harshly, and women leniently, for equivalent offences and we need the genders to effectively "meet in the middle" on this front. We can't necessarily score this as an example though, because it's possible that some people didn't like Andy Gray (e.g. repeatedly blasting referees when replays showed their decisions to be 100% correct) and just wanted him out.

In the meantime I recall a discussion on the Martin Brundle "Pikey" issue (where he used it in a jocular sense, unaware of its stronger usages):
...where I noted in that thread that I could have caused myself similar trouble with "nonce" as until 2006 I only knew of its jocular use to describe idiots and not its stronger sex-offender connotations. As it happens, Danny Kelly has now fallen foul of this one- he got 130 Ofcom complaints for calling Rafael Benitez a nonce (by which he meant nonsensical, as he pointed out in an apology 15 minutes later) and Rafa is now taking him to court over it.

I think what these kind of incidents illustrate is that we should be careful of throwing insults at people we don't know, but also that we need to be careful to avoid letting choice of words carry more weight than the intended meaning. Any word can be corrupted and evolve offensive meanings, particularly if it becomes widely used among the likes of racists and criminals- and for instance if we take a line that no potentially-offensive words are acceptable and "idiot" is then corrupted in this way, a lot of us will have problems!


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