09 January, 2016

Don’t wait to be told

It’s just over a week into 2016 and we are already well ahead of schedule on our production of stupid.

Today’s stupid was produced by Malcolm Knox where he slapped on the literary equivalent of black-face with the intention of teaching West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle a thing or two about prejudice.

I’ll give Mr Knox the benefit of the doubt that his column was well intentioned, in the same way that the millennial who mansplained how to do feminism better in New Matilda was. Both are cases of editors going for controversy over responsible commentary. Unfortunately, Knox’s point could easily have been made in a couple of sentences.

In summary, Mr Knox seems to be saying that Mr Gayle (who I have only known of for a day longer than I’ve known of Knox), being a black Jamaican, ought to know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of prejudice – which is casual racism in itself. He then rattles off every Jamaican stereotype in the book, in a way that seems to expect Mr Gayle to say, “Thanks, boss! I get it now.” In a spectacular rhetorical own-goal, he not only claims the white male privilege of being the only type of person to not experience prejudice, but also explaining it to those who do on behalf of those who do.

So, for those who need to be told, here’s a handy guide:

People of any race have the potential to be sexist.
People of any gender have the potential to be racist.
People of any race or gender have the potential to be homophobic.
People of any sexuality have the potential to be racist or sexist.
People of any religion or non-religion have the potential to be racist, sexist and homophobic.

In short, bigotry is not the sole domain of white males.

The “how would you like it?” angle is a fair point, but Malcolm Knox lays it on with a shovel and sounds like he’s enjoying it way too much. Many people will have decided to stop reading long before he gets to the point. Yes, it was ironic, but as they said in Drop the Dead Donkey, just because you know it’s crap doesn’t stop it being crap. And it comes from someone who has probably never been told he’s doing privileged white male wrong. Way to turn a douche into the victim, Malcolm!

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