Thursday, 8 October 2009

Back in the 70s, racism was funny, right?

Bruce Forsyth, white celebrity, decides to make some silly statements about his colleague Du Beke's statements. The BBC says.

Speaking on Wednesday, Forsyth told Talksport that, in the past, the "slip up" would have been treated in a more light-hearted way.

"You go back 25, 30, 40 years and there has always been a bit of humour about the whole thing."

You go back 25, 30 years and there were riots in Brixton over racism. You go back 40ish years and Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were being assassinated in the US for trying to prevent racism.

Racism would have been funny for (some) white people back then, of course, and being white, Forsyth may not have noticed any of this.

Of course, nowadays, racism isn't funny at all. That's why no-one performs in blackface anymore and racist jokes aren't told today. Likewise, the racist killing of black people has stopped. There'd never be a need to arrest suspected white supremacists on terrorism charges, or interracial couples being shot in the streets today. All from the last month, those, and mostly from the last week. If I listed all the similar stories from the last month, this would be a very long post indeed.

Forsyth, after numerous phone calls to the radio show to complain about his statement, and journalists asking what he actually meant, "clarified".

"Nor do I in any way excuse or condone the use of such language. To be absolutely clear, the use of racially offensive language is never either funny or acceptable."

Where "clarified" means "said something entirely different". The rest of this "clarification" makes this clearer.

"However, there is a major difference between this and racist comments which are malicious in intent and whilst I accept that we live in a world of extraordinary political correctness, we should keep things in perspective."

Translated: "Malicious racism isn't funny, but political correctness means that we can't find non-malicious racism funny either". The fact that intent only matters if you're giving out racists statements, not if you're receiving them, doesn't seem to have crossed his mind either.

Another non-apology for racism, another host extremely unlikely to lose their BBC job. (Forsyth is male, so this doesn't really give us any more information on "A Second Thought"'s hypothesis, though)