Tuesday, 25 October 2011

ricky gervais and the mong controversy

So, Ricky Gervais has apologised for using the word 'Mong' after talking to the mother of a disabled child. It is good that he has taken other peoples opinions on board, and admitted he was in the wrong to use the word in the context that he did, because of the abuse that disabled children (or adults for that matter) may get. He had defended the use in the past because as far as he was concerned, the use had changed from describing a down's syndrome person (formally known as mongoloids), to just meaning an idiot in general (probably after people referring to themselves and others as 'monged' when on too much ecstacy). In the same way 'gay' no longer just means happy, he thought it had moved on. Obviously words can (and do) change their meaning over time and are also re-appropriated by victims of the word to give them autonomy over them (nigger, fag, queer, bitch), but l do think he used the word inappropriately. However, I do not think he should have been censored, and he should be free to say what he wants, after all, they are just words. It is then up to other people to let him know if they think the words are harmful, may incite bullying or hatred, or are just not funny. Anyone may (sometimes inadvertently) say something that is out of order, and if so, should be bought to task for doing so, which will (hopefully) prevent them from using the word (or words) again. If they continue to use an offending word, don't listen to them, hang around with them, or watch them (especially if they have a platform such as TV), but they should still be able to say them. That is the way to get them to change, not censorship. Comedy should make fun of anything, as long as it is funny and not bullying, but this would (in my humble opinion, which is really not that humble) exclude words that refer to specific disabilities and disabled groups (flid, spas, mong etc) who will suffer the consequences of their use. That does not mean that jokes cannot be made about disabilities, as long as the laughter is with them, not aimed at them. I also think new words of abuse will spring up, such as LD (to mean someone with learning difficulties of disabilities), but it does not mean they should be encouraged in any way. It's a mighty fine line to tread though, as peoples ideas of comedy and what may be deemed appropriate vary significantly. Good luck with the joke telling in the future.

toodle pip

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