Carol Thatcher has, amid much publicity, been ‘removed’ from ‘The One Show’ after making an racist comment in the show’s Green Room – namely she referred to a black tennis player as being a ‘golliwog’. Note to non-British readers – it is offensive here, probably pretty much falls below the radar elsewhere but any defence is wholly disingenuous because you really don’t need to be very ‘tuned in’ to realise it would cause offence.
She is drawing a lot of sympathy from the ‘political correctness gone mad’ brigade. Saying ‘I had a Golliwog when I was young and I loved it’. Sorry, no defence. Why do you think they were discontinued? Why do you think we don’t see Golliwogs on the shelves of toy-stores anymore (except, apparently, on the Queen’s Sandringham estate.. hmm) ? Right – because they were a purely racially based caricature that actually offends people and feeds into oppressions in our society.
Thatcher was, apparently, offered the opportunity to apologise and didn’t. She claimed she was joking. She was in the Green Room of a popular TV show – this was not, as is claimed, ‘in private’ and the other guests and presenters on the show, apparently, pulled her up on the comment and were offended by it.
Now Thatcher’s agent is demanding an apology from the– I’m not entirely sure if this is due to the leaking or the initial treatment. And ‘thousands have complained’ about the treatment of Thatcher. Note: She wants an apology from the BBC but is not prepared to apologise herself.
As for me, I think she completely brought it on herself. She has shown no awareness of the ability of words to offend. She was in a room full of ‘white people’ so felt she could make disparaging remarks with no ‘difficulties’.
The question (to which there will never be an answer) is – would she have made the same comment if one of the presenters/guests/crew in the room with her had been black?
Comparisons are made with remarks that Jonathan Ross (another TV presenter) made. Two differences. Firstly, they were completely inappropriate but they were not stereotyping/offending an entire race/class/gender. Yes, they were unpleasant to the person involved. I’m not entirely comfortable with Ross but there is a difference with the language he used (vulgar, gross, inappropriate) and what Thatcher said (racially stereotyping).
He also made a complete apology immediately.
I am no great Ross apologist though – I don’t think he was unjustly treated.
The other comparison is the language used by Prince Harry – and you know, I say ‘sack him’ too.