198. Standing Up

Recently I wrote about the orcs in the Twickenham crowd who shouted homophobic abuse at referee Nigel Owens.

As it happens they have been identified and given a two-year ban. They’ll also be paying £1,000 to the charity of Nigel’s choosing.  The ref also wants to meet them and explain exactly who their behaviour was hurting:

I’d tell them to think twice about saying things, because it’s not me they’re hurting, it’s the young kid sitting in the row in front who’s maybe dealing with their own sexuality. The most difficult thing I ever had to do in my life was accepting I was gay. It’s someone sitting two seats away, going through what I went through, dealing with who they are, who are the people they’re putting in danger.

In my post about the incident I wrote:

What’s important is that the people around them should not let them get away with it through silence. Politely and firmly let them know that they are fools.

‘Politely and firmly’ can come with risks.  In Germany on 15 November Tugce Albayrak, a 22-year old student, went to help two teenage women in a fast food restaurant who were being harassed by a group of men.

She was killed.

These stories thread together into another one, about another German woman: Angela Merkel, who just happens to be the Chancellor.

The German chancellor was deep in one of the 40 conversations she has had with the Russian president over the past year when he began to rail against the “decadence” of the West.

Nothing exemplified this “decay of values” more than the West’s promotion of gay rights, Mr Putin told her.

It was then, said sources close to Ms Merkel, that she realised Europe and America should abandon all hope of finding a common language with the Kremlin and instead should adopt a policy of Cold War-style containment.

Politely and firmly let them know that they are fools. It comes with risks, yes, but the alternative is to meekly surrender the civic space – a rugby stadium, a restaurant, a continent – to the voices of abuse and degradation.

About Ned Davy

By hokey, the big fella’s tipped into his 50s. A rangy loose forward in his prime, good with the ball in hand, but rarely up with the play any more.
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4 Responses to 198. Standing Up

  1. Rawiri says:

    kia ora. agree with all of that. the truth of that is in how we (collectively) have lifted our game in lots of important conversations – in families, in communities and in nations. “Its not OK” (family violence), “Yeah Nah” (alcohol), and so on. I’m interested though in whether any of the players’ voices have been raised to speak out?

    • Ned Davy says:

      I’m generally in two minds about celebrities, including sports stars, taking speaking roles on social/political issues. I get that they help to bring the media, but usually the skills that make them a celebrity are not qualifications for deep anthropological, sociological, scientific or philosophical analysis. If we go looking for answers to big problems from celebrities, that’s a bigger problem.

      Having said that, when it’s an issue that affects their own zone, go for it. A few years back Rowan Atkinson led the charge in Britain against proposals to tighten up blasphemy laws. He was the right spokesperson precisely because the comedians’s trade is offending normative sensibilities.

      Similarly, because sport is about deep culture, I think it’s entirely right that well-known sports people should take public positions that explore the ethics of inclusion, fairness, and so on, because that goes to the very heart of the meaning of sport. It was great to see Adam Ashley-Cooper, for example, taking a prominent role in standing up against homophobia during the recent Bingham Cup in Sydney. The most important people in all of this are the game changers who shatter stereotypes and proving the bigots wrong by simply being the best: Jackie Robinson, Martina Navratilova, Gareth Thomas, Jesse Owens.

  2. Capt. Tinarse says:

    Well said Ned. And a lot of respect to Nigel.

  3. Rawiri says:


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