Monkey business

So the row has blown over, the third Test is on, and India has gained a big first-innings lead; but the racism charge against Harbhajan remains. He now claims that he wanted to say “Maa ki…” which is vulgar abuse in India but acceptable in Australia. Several people have observed that “monkey” (“bandar”, “korangu” etc) is not racial abuse in India: it is widely used of unruly children, regardless of complexion. But then why call Symonds a monkey, rather than Ponting or Clarke? It is doubtful that these people had an innocent interpretation in mind.

But is it only people of African ancestry that get compared to our simian relatives? Go to http://www.google.com, type “chimp” and hit “I’m feeling lucky”: this page is what you get (as of this writing).

Now google “Bush Ponting” — it seems many people have noticed a physical resemblance between the two.

So would it be a very subtle form of racial abuse to tell Symonds: “You remind me of Ponting”, leaving it unstated that Ponting reminds you of Bush, and Bush reminds you of a chimp? Personally, I’d find the Bush comparison the most insulting and offensive, with the Ponting comparison a close second. But the point is, why single out racial abuse? Why not take action against all forms of abuse on the field?

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