Thursday, 17 June 2010

Of cannibals, footballers and ceiling wax: Australian sporting racism going strong

Cannibal gibe sparks new AFL race row
June 17, 2010
I have taken the liberty of publishing
The Age article in full here
to facilitate commentary on the 
remarks it contains.
Mal Brown at the AFL lunch.

Mal Brown at the AFL lunch. 
Photo: Peter Ward

AS A racism furore engulfs rugby league, Australian rules has again shown it is not rid of such prejudices either.

At an AFL function in Melbourne yesterday, West Australian football legend and former Richmond player Mal Brown referred to indigenous players - including one of the AFL's most famous, Nicky Winmar - as ''cannibals''.

Brown made his remark as he addressed a lunch attended by about 80 football identities and paying guests at Etihad Stadium's Medallion Room to celebrate 15 years of E. J. Whitten Legends matches.

Referring to poor ground lighting at some of the early legends matches - in which Brown coached one of the teams - he said: ''It actually disadvantaged us. We couldn't pick any of the cannibals. Nicky Winmar, Michael Mitchell … We didn't even get any white shirts to put on them.''

Is Mal Brown so in need of a headline 
and so short on intellectual power to create one,
that he had to resort to racism to get a laugh and a line?

Brown's comments prompted some laughter in the room. But the master of ceremonies, media identity and former Melbourne star Garry Lyon, was visibly embarrassed. ''You've just put us on the back page of every paper tomorrow,'' he said.

When contacted by The Age after the lunch, Lyon said: ''You can't control everyone. Everyone needs to take responsibility for things they do and say in this world these days, and Mal's big enough and old enough to understand that.''

Aren't Lyon's words wonderful?
Australians kid themselves that they tilt at authority,
that they don't always toe the accepted line.
Well, Gary Lyon did not take the line of charity yesterday.
Did he call Brown 
as Timana Tahu had the courage to do?
Tahu gave up a prized State of Origin berth
to challenge the dinosaurs of the NRL.
What would Lyon have had to give up?
A lunch?
A fleeting moment in the public eye?
An appearance fee?

On the way out of the Medallion Club Brasserie, Brown, who was aware that journalists were at the lunch, pointed at newspaper reporters and said: ''Don't you go writing what I said about those Abos.''

From where I sit,
seems that Brown wanted to ensure 
he got his name in the paper!
Innocent?  Unreconstructed?
Not on your Nellie.

Out for the limelight, out for a grab
and he wanted to make sure the 
ladies and gentlemen of The Fourth Estate knew it -
and, of course, they have obliged Brown.
He has what he wanted - headlines
courtesy of the oxygen provided by the Press.

Former Essendon champion Simon Madden, who was at the lunch and is the past players' representative on the AFL Players' Association's executive, said Brown's comments were ''uneducated''.

How comforting to think that the likes of Brown
are "uneducated".
Does one have to be educated to treat people with courtesy;
to discern kindness from vilification?
No.  Clearly, Simon Madden did not call Brown.
Clearly, Simon Madden did not stage a personal walkout.

''My first reaction was that I hope people don't take offence, but I think people will. I know Mal Brown and what you can hear publicly isn't necessarily the bloke you get privately,'' Madden said.

''That's a comment from a bloke who could say those things in the '80s, and you can't say those things in 2010 … it's a different era and we've come a long way,'' Madden said. ''I would hope they're uneducated comments from him, rather than racist comments. I'd hate to believe that someone of his standing would be a racist, and I'd think that he's not.''

What utter milksop hogwash and balderdash!

The Golden Rule still has application in Australian society.
It did in the 1980s and it does in 2010.

Clearly Madden, Brown and Lyon are not familiar with it.
It is quite simple.


You see Messrs. Madden, Brown and Lyon,
this means that if you tolerate the behaviour
that went on at that lunch,
then you clearly believe that you yourselves
should be on the receiving end of abusive
and derogratory language and name-calling.
What a society, what a social discourse
this would give us -
and above all give your children.
What arrogance!

Madden said he would like to talk with Brown about the remarks. ''I didn't get to see him after the lunch, but I would hope that he'd be open to talking about it,'' he said.

And how would Brown discuss this with you Madden?
With more ridicule, more snide and derogatory comment.
And where -
in headline keeping company
or  somewhere quiet so words could be as racist 
as you wanted them to be
and perhaps you could use language 
similar to that used by Andrew Johns.

Brown's son Campbell plays at senior level for Hawthorn, which in recent times has become a stable for some of the AFL's brightest indigenous stars including Lance Franklin, Chance Bateman, Cyril Rioli and, most recently, Shaun Burgoyne.

And are Lance and Chance and Cyril and Shaun
along with young Campbell
coming home to dinner at your place Mr Brown?
And, if so, will they get more of the same?

Brown's comments came as the build-up to the National Rugby League's state-of-origin match last night was overshadowed by the racist slurs made by New South Wales assistant coach Andrew Johns in a team meeting, which led to star Timana Tahu walking out.

Johns described Queensland star Greg Inglis as a ''black c---'' in an address during a team camp before the second origin match of the series.

Mal Brown did not respond to calls from The Age last night.

And why, all of a sudden, 
do you refuse to talk to journalists?
Lost any intestinal fortitude you may have had?

The facts are that racist language is violent language.
It has the capacity to be destructive 
as certainly as a knife or a gun.

What the men mentioned above don't seem to get
is how much they demean themselves.
Brown by what came from his own mouth
and the others by remaining in his company
and not absenting themselves from his company
in a public way.

And what probably none of you will understand is
that there are always consequences. 
I would bring to the attention of you all
the famous Ingersoll quote:

In nature there are neither rewards 
nor punishments; 
there are only consequences.

And, in case you haven't noticed,
last night at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane
the New South Wales Rugby League
was on the receiving end of consequences.

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