NAUSEATING finger-shaking over football crowds booing Sydney Swans player and 2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes hit a disgusting new low this week, with media railing against “racist” slurs on Goodes, Twitterati stating #IStandWithAdam, and the AFL making a typically vapid stand on racism in his name. Goodes chose to humiliate a young girl, making her a national target of vilification. He can go to hell if he resents the fallout.
One of the biggest problems with the compassion babblers and finger shakers and their cohorts in the politically correct bleeding heart bullshit industry is that they lie in wait, like an ambush party, just itching for an “issue” to appear so they can punch their “values” down the throats of the rest of the population: and when such an “issue” inevitably materialises they run off half-cocked, missing the point, and arguably doing far more damage than the “issue” they claim to be standing on does in the first place.
It’s become a modern retort against these people that one of the things they do is to start a hashtag — a tool for grouping like-minded comment and output on social media site Twitter — and the most recent misguided, factually incorrect, politically motivated example of it was the cretinous #IStandForMercy campaign, which purported to advocate for executed Bali Nine filth Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, but which instead amounted to no more than a fictitious but savage personal and political assault on Prime Minister Tony Abbott and, by extension, his government.
Now, they’ve latched onto the fact that football crowds over the past year or so have shown an increasing tendency to boo Sydney Swans player and 2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes — and as usual, the noisy, visible campaign they have engineered very conveniently ignores the reason for it, which has nothing to do with racism at all: just the fact that, to put it bluntly, Goodes is a hypocrite and a dickhead who, stereotypically, can dish it out but he can’t take it.
I will talk about Goodes in a moment. But first — seeing politics and football have intersected on this issue — I want to talk about my own club, Carlton.
We have a long and proud tradition of having Aboriginal players at Carlton, beginning with one of the first to ever play the game at the senior VFL/AFL level: Syd Jackson, who played 136 games in the 1970s, and who is rightly revered at Carlton as a dual premiership hero and much-loved icon of our club.
More recently, four of our best players — Andrew Walker, Eddie Betts, Jeff Garlett and Chris Yarran — have come to Carlton from Aboriginal backgrounds.
Betts has gone to Adelaide, and gets booed when we play the Crows: not because he is black, and not simply because he crossed the Rubicon to play at a rival club, but because his departure stemmed from Betts putting a ridiculous price tag on his own head as the cost for staying at Carlton, which was (in the view of supporters and, it seems the club hierarchy) unjustified based on his inconsistent but patchily awe-inspiring output as a small forward and goalsneak.
Most players who go to other clubs, in AFL fan culture, get booed. Just because they do. There’s nothing cerebral to it and certainly nothing racist about it.
Garlett has gone to Melbourne with the best wishes of Carlton fans: not because we are pleased to see the back of a black player, but because like Betts, the gap between “Jeffy” at his best and his worst was cavernous: a fresh start for the player at another club was probably in the best interests of both Garlett and Carlton — and this is a story that plays out at every club at one point or another.
Walker frustrates because, like Garlett, he is inconsistent: but unlike Garlett, he has been far more consistent over 13 seasons than Garlett was over six; and Yarran is widely touted as “trade bait” at the end of this season: not to get rid of a black player, but because there is a sense that the supremely talented, exquisitely skilled, lightning-fast Yarran simply doesn’t fit the club as it begins a total rebuild of its playing list, and that he might fare better — and gain more personally — at a club in premiership contention, which Carlton most certainly is not.
The point is that our members and supporters (who, admittedly, boo Goodes, like everyone else) are not racist and in fact, have embraced Aboriginal players like so many other clubs have done; for whatever reason, these players seem to boast grace and power and speed and skill in levels that are disproportionate with their caucasian counterparts; and far from being a difference that elicits prejudice, the Aboriginal players are revered.
Stories like those of our Aboriginal players at Carlton and the vaulting esteem in which they are held can be found at virtually every AFL club these days, and any booing that goes on (which, to be clear, is something that non-indigenous players get singled out for, too) is never racially motivated: Aboriginal players get the same treatment from football crowds as everyone else does — which is as it should be — and if they get booed at all, they have done something specific to warrant it.
Were it racially motivated, then every Aboriginal player would be booed every time they set foot on a football field which, quite clearly, they are not.
Many of them are names that bring people to football games just to see them play. And until very recently, one of those names was Adam Goodes.
Miranda Devine, writing in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today, sets out the case against Goodes with a clarity that is sorely lacking among some of her contemporaries, including at her own newspaper: and she also sets out the mythical “redneck man” supposedly responsible for a crusade against Goodes, which is said to be racist, bigoted, and based on nothing more than the colour of his skin. Nothing could be further from the truth. I urge everyone to read Miranda’s article today.
Back in 2013, Goodes was instrumental in singling out and publicly shaming a 13-year-old girl who had called him “an ape” at a Sydney vs Collingwood match she attended with her grandmother, and whilst there may have been racial overtones to the sledge, the very culture of football blurs the line in positively determining that the comment was in fact racist: and in any case, Goodes’ behaviour over the incident was so far over the top, excessive, and out of all realistic proportion as to defy belief that even a passionate advocate against racism and Aboriginal disadvantage could lower himself to indulge in it.
Australian football — a game where “gorillas” are prized on team lists because of their size, power and capacity to physically intimidate opponents — itself blurs the line over whether “an ape” might be a racist characterisation, or at least in part another variety of a “gorilla;” one multiple premiership coach was revered for playing “mongrels” on every line, and this reference to dogs was never leapt upon by the sanctimony brigade in outrage in the way a young girl’s taunt that Goodes was “an ape” was.
But let’s just set aside the cultural references within the game itself that might have led an impressionable kid to think calling Goodes “an ape” was acceptable, and look at his response.
As Miranda notes, Goodes could see this kid was very young — he guessed 14, when in fact she was even younger than that.
Yet that didn’t stop him from demanding the AFL’s rent-a-cops single her out, march her from the grandstand, after which she was held and presumably interrogated for more than two hours, until beyond midnight, whilst separated from her grandmother.
The girl must have been absolutely terrified. Goodes is not a stupid fellow. He did not come down in the proverbial last shower. He knows how the AFL works. He must have had at least some inkling of how AFL officials would respond once he sooled them onto her.
In this era of live telecasting of AFL matches against the gate — and especially a high-profile clash between power clubs like Sydney and Collingwood — the entire demeaning episode, including the girl being frogmarched out of the stadium by the AFL’s goons, was beamed live around the country to a TV audience numbering in the millions.
Yet not content with this success, and apparently driven by a total disregard for the emotional welfare of a 13-year-old child who had already been nationally shamed, Goodes fronted the media the following day to declare that “racism has a face, and it is a 13-year-old girl.”
To do this — in spite of the humiliation and vilification that had been heaped upon her the night before, and with the apparent forethought suggested by having taken the time to consider what he would tell the press when they next asked him about it — speaks to Goodes, despite whatever else he might be, being a prick: nothing more, nothing less.
I don’t condone racism for a moment, and certainly not in professional sport. But this episode, by Goodes’ own actions, represents something else entirely.
The girl subsequently apologised to Goodes and wrote him a letter, but the damage was done: and whilst Goodes did and does enjoy the shelter of not just the AFL community but of the entire grandstanding, moralising, finger-waving lobby of Chardonnay drunks and social campaigners who are just looking to destroy people in the name of the causes they are obsessed with — to the total exclusion in most cases of any sense of decency, balance, or common sense — this young kid, who herself comes from a severely compromised background as the disadvantaged child of a single mother on a disability pension, had nobody to defend her and no voice of mass reach to counter the malicious onslaught Goodes’ apparently carefully considered words unleashed.
I am sick of hearing about Adam Goodes, and so are an awful lot of ordinary, decent, unbigoted people.
I personally don’t boo Goodes when I see him at the football, although I am also intellectually honest enough — unlike the PC chatterati set driving the “Adam has been racially vilified” bandwagon — to know there is nothing racist behind it. Not now. He was complicit in trying to destroy a little girl’s world in retaliation for one poorly chosen remark at a football game. He should, in fact, be ashamed of himself.
The fact he claimed late in the week to be unable to play football at the weekend because the controversy around being booed by crowds had all become too much for him to cope with is a claim that, regrettably, cuts no ice where I’m concerned.
Racially provoked or not, Goodes’ response unleashed consequences on the girl that were out of all proportion, unjustified and unjustifiable, and which could cause permanent psychological damage to someone who arguably wasn’t even old enough to fully comprehend what she had done wrong, let alone be a suitable target for making an example of her on a national stage.
But Goodes can’t handle the fact that the episode has directly led to football crowds viewing him very, very poorly.
He’s had AFL matches at the weekend all making faux stands against racism — ostensibly in his name — because people dare to hold him to account, the only way they can, for the frightful and malevolent approach he took to a 13 year old child, for goodness’ sake.
He’s had journalists and opinion makers all over the country coming out of the woodwork, suggesting anyone who dares to boo Goodes — or even to criticise him at all — is, unambiguously, a racist and a bigot, wildly generalised and thoroughly misguided statements that should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.
He’s had the army of do-gooders on Twitter who ache for causes to shame and pillory and crucify people over tweeting that #IStandWithAdam which, presumably, means they fully sanction what he did to that poor girl.
The vengeful bent of reprisal that drove Goodes that night does not speak to a fair, forgiving or even reasonable mindset, whatever the provocation.
And the low regard in which he has subsequently been held by a solid portion of both the football public and the wider community is something for which he only has himself to blame.
Nobody forced Goodes — who, again, would have had a very clear idea of the likely fallout — to shame and humiliate that kid, and make her life a living misery in front of a national audience and abetted by the finger-shakers whose instincts are to destroy, rather than to heal or to reconcile.
That he now can’t handle the response — or if he doesn’t like the fact that the character his actions ultimately shredded was his own, not that of the girl in question — is of little interest, and no cause for sympathy, let alone the imbecilic outpouring that has taken place in recent days.
If you’re just a dickhead, you’re just a dickhead: and as far as I’m concerned, that particular shoe fits Adam Goodes. It has nothing to do with the fact he’s black.
If Goodes doesn’t like the fact those who once admired him now harbour nothing but contempt, he will just have to get over it; and the fact decent people without a racist bone in their bodies refuse to forgive the retaliatory experience he inflicted on a child does not constitute racism in any way — rather, the total horror that anyone would find it appropriate to put the poor girl through what Goodes, knowingly, saw fit to put her through at all.
And to date, no apology for that has been forthcoming.
In short, Adam Goodes can go to hell. And if he wants to complain any more about his lot where these issues are concerned, the hitherto slavering press pack ought to tell him to tell his story walking.
There are plenty of other Aboriginal identities who make excellent role models for their communities, and good Australian people from other backgrounds embrace them openly, as they once did Goodes.
If Goodes is no longer regarded by many people as one of them, there is nothing “racist” about it.