Farce around the world


by Rumbold
11th January, 2008 at 4:01 pm    

The Indo-Australian cricket row rumbles on. Harbhajan (Indian) allegedly called Andrew (black, Australian) a monkey. Ricky (captain, Australia), went and told on Harbhajan. Result? Pure hilarity. Indians take to the street burning effergies, NDTV carries the story incessantly, while the Indian Cricket board (BCCI) gets in a strop over the idea that an Indian could be called racist, and threatens to go home.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Ricky is in trouble for telling on Harbhajan, and is accused of being a ‘dobber’. Gleeful cricket fans now share their recollections of how unpleasant Australian teams have been in the past. If this was not funny enough, an Indo-Australian stepped in to the row with a priceless comment:

“HERE is what the Australian Indian community has to say about Harbhajan Singh’s monkey call to Andrew Symonds:

United Indian Association President Raj Natarajan: -

“It was surprising that the match referee, Mr. Mike Proctor, has taken the view that Harbhajan Singh made racial comments. It is alleged that Harbajan Singh called Andrew Symonds a monkey during an on-field verbal spat at the SCG and this was considered as racist by the match referee.

“Considering that the “Monkey God” is one of the revered idols of Hindu mythology and worshipped by millions, it is surprising it was considered a racist term. Even more surprising is that the word “monkey” is considered by the match referee serious enough to slap a three match ban on Harbhajan Singh. Many other more unsavoury words exchanged on the field go un-noticed.

“The UIA and its members feel that the Australian team has behaved in an un-sporting manner which has made the second test between India and Australia a poor example of the game.”

When the Australians toured India, their one black player was repeatedly called a monkey by the crowds; obviously they too used ‘monkey’ as a term of enderment.

An unrelated story has also provided some light relief. A Scottish councillor, one Mr. Terry Kelly, has been accused of making sexist comments on his blog:

“Patricia Devlin: “Why are no women allowed to comment here?

You’ve mentioned one being banned, you’ve called a black woman a liar for talking about racism but then no others have been allowed to comment.

Councillor are you a sexist?”

Terry Kelly: “(Patricia Devlin) 30/12/07 – You have just perfectly demonstrated why, it’s because they are thick.”"

In fairness, it sounds like a joke, but the unpleasantness of many of Terry’s posts and comments has turned this into a national issue, as people line up to bash Wendy Alexander’s election agent. To get an idea of Terry Kelly’s thought process, read through any of the posts on his blog.


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  1. Sofia — on 11th January, 2008 at 4:42 pm  

    apparently some of the indian press is saying harbajan said…”mein nu ki” (what’s it to me..rough translation) in punjabi ..which if you say fast..as in punjabi it is..voila..you get a word sounding like monkey…hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  2. rambhai — on 11th January, 2008 at 4:56 pm  

    no thats not the case . shekhar suman made that joke to lighten the situation~~

  3. Sofia — on 11th January, 2008 at 5:00 pm  

    ohhhhhh.,..ok…well i read it differently but it’s still funny

  4. Jai — on 11th January, 2008 at 5:03 pm  

    Rumbold,

    while the Indian Cricket board (BCCI) gets in a strop over the idea that an Indian could be called racist, and threatens to go home.

    They — and the rest of the Indian public — are actually upset about the fact that the allegation against Harbhajan may have been completely false, along with the fact that the decision-makers concerned have taken the Aussie’s word over the Indians’ (including Tendulkar) despite the lack of evidence either way. It’s not just a matter of them “getting in a “trop” over the notion of an Indian being accused of being a racist.

    As I mentioned on the other thread, Sepia Mutiny have been discussing the topic exhaustively and have both an excellent main article and a large number of subsequent intelligent comments. I recommend you check it out here, before you go any further.

    Incidentally, I’ve also wondered if it’s been a case of the Aussie player concerned having misheard what Harbhajan actually said, eg. it’s possible he did indeed say something in Punjabi (eg. “Teri maa ki”) or called him a “madharchhod” (for example).

  5. Jai — on 11th January, 2008 at 5:07 pm  

    “getting in a “trop”

    That should of course say “getting in a strop”.

    I have no idea what a “trop” is, but I’m sure it’s not very pleasant either.

  6. Sofia — on 11th January, 2008 at 5:13 pm  

    omg..not sure which is worse slaggin off your ma (using very derogatory remarks) or calling someone a monkey…

  7. Rumbold — on 11th January, 2008 at 5:16 pm  

    Jai:

    We have seen this behaviour before though from sub-continental sides (Pakistan at the Oval etc.). If something goes wrong for them, their solution is to inflame opinion back home (which brings out the effergies), then threaten to stop playing. This then brings in the ICC, who are largely controlled by the South Asian block vote and who need the revenue from India. The ICC then suspends/sacks the umpires, who were trying to uphold the laws, because they are the easiest targets. The article at Sepia Mutiny looked like a press release from the BCCI.

    I am not trying to exonerate the Australians- they are a deeply unpleasant team. Nor do I think that they should have banned Harbajan without more evidence. But India, and Pakistan, need to learn to be a bit more mature and not throw the baby out with the bathwater if something in cricket happens which they do not like.

  8. Sid — on 11th January, 2008 at 5:34 pm  

    Rumbold is absolutely right.

  9. Ravi Naik — on 11th January, 2008 at 5:39 pm  

    “When the Australians toured India, their one black player was repeatedly called a monkey by the crowds; obviously they too used ‘monkey’ as a term of enderment.”

    I think this paragraph is quite damaging.

  10. Jai — on 11th January, 2008 at 5:52 pm  

    I think this paragraph is quite damaging.

    Yes Ravi, but it still has no bearing on whether Harbhajan is actually guilty of what he has been accused of, or even if he shares the racist attitudes exhibited by those crowds. The primary focus here has to be on finding out what actually, really happened. And I think the Indian cricket team was fully justified in threatening to pull out if one of their top players had been banned as a result of a fabricated accusation.

    I also think that making remarks about the bad behavior of some members of the Indian public — whether it’s the aforementioned crowds or those involved in effigy-burning — is irrelevant, clouds the discussion, disingenuously deflects attention away from the core issue, and veers dangerously close to guilt-by-association. I don’t think it’s exactly taking the moral high ground for people to exploit this situation as an opportunity to denigrate Indians per se, especially since they are not even directly connected to the incident concerned.

    The article at Sepia Mutiny looked like a press release from the BCCI.

    Rumbold, I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic here or if this is genuine opinion, but I believe that article was a collection of viewpoints from various sources and was written by Anna from SM, who is based in the US and by her own admission has relatively little interest in cricket. Personally I think it was very good — well-researched, including a range of different perspectives, and certainly providing ample material for discussion (as indicated by the well-argued 350+ comment thread which has ensued over there).

  11. Jai — on 11th January, 2008 at 6:18 pm  

    Aha, I knew it. According to Mihir Bose at the Beeb, Harbhajan did indeed make a remark about the other guy’s momma, as I suggested above. More details here.

  12. Rumbold — on 11th January, 2008 at 7:10 pm  

    Jai:

    “I also think that making remarks about the bad behavior of some members of the Indian public — whether it’s the aforementioned crowds or those involved in effigy-burning — is irrelevant, clouds the discussion, disingenuously deflects attention away from the core issue, and veers dangerously close to guilt-by-association. I don’t think it’s exactly taking the moral high ground for people to exploit this situation as an opportunity to denigrate Indians per se, especially since they are not even directly connected to the incident concerned.”

    It is completly relevant. The fact that Symonds has been called a monkey repeatedly by some Indians indicates that it is clearly a term of abuse. Secondly, one of the points that I, and others, have been making was that whatever the facts of the incident, the reaction by the BCCI and some members of the Indian public has been out of proportion. Nobody is trying to tar all South Asians with the same brush, but this is not the first time that a cricketing decision against a South Asian side has resulted in these sort of scenes.

    Imagine this scenario then: the England team are touring India, and some Indian players overhear England batsman J. Bull calling one of their number a Paki. Bull is then suspended for three matches. The reaction is immediate. England threaten to leave India and demand that the umpires be sacked. English pundits explain why ‘Paki’ is not racist, and perhaps the Indians misheard due to Bull’s Scouse accent. England point to some questionable umpiring decisions.

    Back in England, residents of Tumbridge Wells, their faces contorted with hate, are burning representations of living people while screaming their names. These incidents are taking place across England.

    What would your reaction be to that?

    “Rumbold, I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic here or if this is genuine opinion, but I believe that article was a collection of viewpoints from various sources and was written by Anna from SM, who is based in the US and by her own admission has relatively little interest in cricket. Personally I think it was very good — well-researched, including a range of different perspectives, and certainly providing ample material for discussion (as indicated by the well-argued 350+ comment thread which has ensued over there).”

    I can’t comment on Anna’s knowledge or lackof about cricket. When I read the piece, I got the sense that the Australians were clearly the villains of the piece, and that the Indians had done nothing wrong. I think it was the bit about Symonds ‘allegedly’ suffering monkey chants while touring India (and I don’t think even the BCCI deny that happened- people were expelled from some of the grounds as a result).

    Do you actually think India have done anything wrong, or do you consider this acceptable behaviour?

  13. Refresh — on 11th January, 2008 at 7:13 pm  

    Quite frankly if Harbhajan has said what it now seems he may have said – he should have been shipped straight back to mum. She would have known what to do with him. His family must be horrified. It would have avoided the international uproar.

    I certainly am.

    Having said that, it was about time the Australian cricket team was finally exposed for their deeply unpleasant behaviour.

    I don’t doubt they are at least as sneering and patronising as that slob Gatting.

  14. Refresh — on 11th January, 2008 at 7:14 pm  

    Oops – I withdraw ‘slob’ – it just came out.

  15. Yaz — on 11th January, 2008 at 8:18 pm  

    When i first saw this story a few days ago, I thought the right action had been taken. Whatever anyone says, the term money is racist.

  16. Sunny — on 11th January, 2008 at 8:28 pm  

    Yes the term monkey is racist and the Indian-Australian group should be slapped on the head for trying to twist it. Typical Indian stupidity. And completely wrong of Harbhajan Singh to have said it.

    But for the Australian team of accusing Indians of racism.. pot calling the kettle black!

  17. Yaz — on 11th January, 2008 at 8:35 pm  

    I don’t have much time for the Australian team either. But i think racism in any sport should be tackled. Black football players still face it when they play in Europe. Maybe they should use this as an opportunity to discuss the racist attitudes people have towards each other cricket.

  18. Yaz — on 11th January, 2008 at 8:36 pm  

    I don’t have much time for the Australian team either. But i think racism in any sport should be tackled. Black football players still face it when they play in Europe. Maybe they should use this as an opportunity to discuss the racist attitudes people have towards each other in cricket.

  19. Don — on 11th January, 2008 at 8:58 pm  

    The aussies have a bit of cheek complaining about sledging, but ‘monkey’ is crossing the line and no cultural excuse works.

    If Harbhajan is now claiming that he was misheard and was ‘just’ making a remark about Symonds’ mum he should explain in detail, with his own mum in the next seat during the press conference. With any luck she’d box his ear.

  20. kELvi — on 11th January, 2008 at 9:00 pm  

    Rumbold It is completely relevant. No. Not even if you say so a few 100 times. Bajji/Bajju was accused of racist abuse by Symonds, not heard out by the match refree, not allowed to cross-examine his accusers, or present his witnesses, and slapped with a three match suspension. And this came after a hotly contested test where the Aussies benefited from half a dozen dodgy and stupid umpiring decisions, made false appeals for dismissals and actually had them upheld. And on top of that a couple of Aussies who “showed dissent” weren’t penalised. So that naturally inflamed tempers back home. Don’t Indians have better things to do? Good question. But don’t ask an Indian about it. But we are still in the post-New Year hangover and have a lot of time on our hands. The BCCI being staffed by politicians rightly feared that this could affect their re-election prospects. Sharad Pawar, Rajiv Shukla, and host of others are all politicians and did not want to risk the displeasure of their constituents. Further Pawar received a text message from Sachin that Bajji had not abused Symonds as alleged, leaving Pawar confident that Bajji must not be punished wrongly. Now it is no secret that India is the pivot of “world cricket”. It is the Indian public and the BCCI that keep world cricket financially solvent and profitable. BCCI apart from politicos also hosts a bunch of smart lawyers, Arun Jaitley, Nalini Chidambaram, & Venkataraman, who although from different parties are absolutely brilliant and can sue the socks off any two bit administrator like Malcolm Speed or Mike PRoctor. When the Indian janata reminded the BCCI that “Jiski lathi, uski bains,” or as we say in French, HE who pays the piper, calls the tune,” BCCI issued its first veiled threat to the ICC, that it would pull out of the tour if Bucknor wasn’t sacked. ICC wisened up. And now on the matter of Bajji, Pawar himself has issued the second threat, that no mere hearing will suffice. ICC should drop all charges against Bajji immediately, and begin to hear charges against Brad Hogg for some pretty bad language (Oz for polite conversation). The next demand I expect and hope will be that the Sydney test be declared unfinished or a draw. BCCI is grinding ICC and Cricket Australia into the dust and taking great pleasure doing it. Ponting’s endorsement contracts in India were cancelled last night. Brett Lee who is pretty popular in India (and is now finishing a Hindi movie) is staying out of this ruckus. Most of the team including Gilly have come out looking like cheap cheats from this test. But knowing that their financial future depends upon the munificence of the BCCI which is due to open up the IPL shortly, everyone is learning to keep their mouth shut. Lessons learnt.

    What a bunch of immature kids the Oz team has turned out to be. Ponting becomes Bajji’s bunny so the team decides to target him?

  21. Desi Italiana — on 11th January, 2008 at 9:27 pm  

    “Black football players still face it when they play in Europe.”

    Relatedly, the Moroccan (or Algerian?) player for France being called a “terrorist” by the Italian player during the World Cup?

    There are too many stories that I’ve come across and been witness to w/r/t to racism in sports, both personally and as a spectator, here in the US and in Italy.

  22. Desi Italiana — on 11th January, 2008 at 9:34 pm  

    Jai:

    “I also think that making remarks about the bad behavior of some members of the Indian public — whether it’s the aforementioned crowds or those involved in effigy-burning — is irrelevant, clouds the discussion, disingenuously deflects attention away from the core issue, and veers dangerously close to guilt-by-association. I don’t think it’s exactly taking the moral high ground for people to exploit this situation as an opportunity to denigrate Indians per se, especially since they are not even directly connected to the incident concerned.”

    I think Harbhajan should be prosecuted for his racism:

    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1566

  23. Refresh — on 11th January, 2008 at 10:09 pm  

    Don

    ‘If Harbhajan is now claiming that he was misheard and was ‘just’ making a remark about Symonds’ mum he should explain in detail, with his own mum in the next seat during the press conference. With any luck she’d box his ear.’

    It would not be fair to punish his mum and in public. They should have sent him home, his mum would have given it him tight. I assure you. This is no small matter.

    I wish I could have done that to Blair for lying and Charles Clarke for using gutter language when education minister. Think of the children.

    Now to the Australians – about time they were shunned. Not least for having Howard as their prime minister time and again.

  24. Sunny — on 11th January, 2008 at 10:28 pm  

    Kelvi – hit the nail on the head.

    The next demand I expect and hope will be that the Sydney test be declared unfinished or a draw. BCCI is grinding ICC and Cricket Australia into the dust and taking great pleasure doing it.

    True… and shame too, to a certain extent. When Indians get some power on the world stage, they end up abusing it.

  25. Saqib — on 11th January, 2008 at 10:51 pm  

    I think part of the problem has been that there were so many things happening in that match, coupled with the recent history between the two sides, which has left the Indian public feeling that a great injustice has been done, without clearly defining what it exactly is.

    It’s about stripping down the issues one by one and then addressing them.

    If Harbhajan called Symonds a monkey, he deserved to be banned. However, did Procter have sufficient evidence, if not how could he be sure, when ‘Bhaji’ has denied it? Point, what are the Indian complaining, he didn’t say it, or if he did it’s no worse then what the Aussies say? By the way, he was provoked – hence Symonds was part guilty?

    The Australians have made it an art form, or as they have named it ‘Mental Disintegration’ to mouth of at opponents strategically, using at times foul language (mother/sister swear words) to sledge opponents. This type of language and behaviour is very offensive to some, particulary to the teams from the sub-continent.
    (though David Gower said in his autobiography that in his days Wasim Bari had a vocabulary that put Bernard Manning to shame!)

    The Indians, and others, may well ask, why should the Australians dictate what is acceptable and what isn’t?

    The umpiring was very, very poor, and India got the rough end of the stick, however this does happen, and Bucknor, though being one of the bests umpires over the years has made boo boos before (He failed to give Javed Miandad out LBW twice, once when he was plumb in the 1992 WC final!). It was understandable for the Indians to be upset and request Bucknor to not officiate (he is clearly past it, and has been for a while) however it was genuine errors and no conspiracy, and the ICC should not have removed him due to protest – especially since Mark Benson was just as bad, if not worse.

    However, what was appalling was the way Michael Clarke claimed crucial a catch, which touched the ground, and Ponting, decided to be umpire and gave him out…that showed real arrogance, and actually cowardice from the umpire. Ultimately that could have cost India the series.

    I think what has really surprised me is the aggression of the Indians now, especially compared to teams and administrators in the past. This i think has brought many things to head, some of which are needed, others not.

  26. Saqib — on 11th January, 2008 at 10:54 pm  

    By the way…it was a great test match – lest we forget.

  27. Cover Drive — on 11th January, 2008 at 11:04 pm  

    The Australian cricketers are no angels. Everyone knows their ethos – win at all cost – even if that involves sledging. They must be the most hated cricket team in the world, and even their own folk find them poor ambassadors of the sport. I’m pretty sure the Aussies gave Harbhajan a tough time verbally when he was batting but that’s no excuse for calling Symonds a ‘monkey’, which is clearly a racist remark.

    Being a bit of cricket fan myself, I watched the India v Australia series in India a couple of months back. I found it totally disgusting when some spectators made monkey gestures at Symonds, and it was all captured on camera. The incident in Sydney is just the climax of a long running saga that started then. In the 1990s, West Indian players used to face loud chants of “Bhoot” (ghost).

    Funny how the Indian reaction to this incident is one of complete denial. Racism toward people of darker skin is commonplace in India but rarely acknowledged. This incident shows it’s going to take some time before Indians learn to start questioning one of their main prejudices.

  28. Saqib — on 11th January, 2008 at 11:07 pm  

    Cover Drive:

    “Funny how the Indian reaction to this incident is one of complete denial. Racism toward people of darker skin is commonplace in India but rarely acknowledged.”

    It is the darker side of Indian society!

  29. Thalassa — on 12th January, 2008 at 3:16 am  

    Oh please, this is beyond absurd. I’m not claiming Indians cannot be racist (of course they can). But even though monkey may be an insult, it’s not a racist insult.

    Has any of you seen Symonds’ photograph? There’s no way this guy would be perceived as “black” by the average Indian.

    Heck if not a single West Indian player has ever been called monkey by an Indian crowd, why is all this directed at Symonds, who looks almost indistinguishable from his teammates (apart from the dreadlocks).

    No, the monkey comments stem from the fact that Symonds tends to cover his mouth entirely with sunscreen and his dreadlocks fly in all directions when he bowls. It’s very obnoxious, very uncalled for taunting, but it’s not racist.

    Indians are capable of being racist in their own hateful ways without taking all their cues from the West. Stop trying to assume that commonly shared cultural definitions are the same everywhere.

  30. Neil — on 12th January, 2008 at 8:48 am  

    Rumbold you seem to have misread the situation. Indians weren’t burning effigies of Ponting etc. They were of the umpires, Bucknor and Benson, who both had an incredibly poor game which had cost India the match (They symonds caught behind and Ganguly/Dravid dismissal were the main ones).

    As for the alleged racism, you also seem to have missed completely the point. The Indian board were not ‘affronted’ by the comment that an Indian could provide a racist comment, but the nature of the hearing, whereby Harbhajan was found guilty despite the fact that NO INDEPENDANT WITNESS had heard him say the word ‘monkey’. Proctor found him guilty on Ponting and Symonds’ word alone,which sets a highly dangerous precedant. (Both Tendulkar and Harbhajan denied saying or hearing it). Why did the match referee choose to beleive the Aussies over the Indians when it was one sides word agains the other.

    He has also messed up with regard to Clarke’s claim of a catch (which replays showed to be highly dubious). Proctor had banned the Pakistani keeper Rashid Latif in 2003 for a similar offence (claiming a non-catch) , but it seems there is no punishment here.

  31. Neil — on 12th January, 2008 at 9:47 am  

    How many people on here actually have followed what happened properly?! Rumbold you clearly don’t know what has happened.

    Jai was right earlier the effigy burning (which was of the umpires not the Aussies) and the BCCI statement are deflecting from the real issue that HARBHAJAN WAS FOUND GUILTY WITH NO EVIDENCE ! No-one had heard him say anything and none of the cameras picked anything up yet on the word of Symonds and Ponting he has been denigrated as making a racist comment.

    The Indian Board is rightly appealing the decision and it has to be said that Kumble has behaved with great dignity throughout the whole episode (especially when the incredible shamble of the umpiring is thrown into it).

    ‘When Indians get some power on the world stage, they end up abusing it.’

    Not sure about this comment at all Sunny, World Cricket was a Anglo-Australian monopoly right up till the mid-90′s. Both England and Australia cherry-picked tours as and when they wanted, they had the power o veto in any decision on the ICC council and the game was run by an elite men only/members only club called the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) based at Lords. With very little say from anyone else.

    Whats happening with the Indian Board throwing its weight around isen’t ideal, but far better then the old system. Lets be honest, the subcontinent is driving cricket forward, the last 50 Over World Cup was a dismal failure partly because India and Pakistan failed to qualify, whereas the Twenty20 version was one of the biggest successes for cricket in recent times.

    The Indian board has also innovated well in bringing in a franchise style Twenty20 tournament which gives cash-strapped young Indian cricketers and recently retired internationals to ply their trade, it has been a qualified success but the ‘Official’ Indian board run tournament promises a lot more then the recent unsactioned Zee TV event.

    Also Harbhajan had said ‘Teri Ma ki…’ which Ponting had misheard as ‘Monkey’, it has been said yesterday.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/mihirbose/2008/01/what_was_and_wasnt_said_in_syd.ht

  32. Neil — on 12th January, 2008 at 9:52 am  

    ‘It was a great Test match lest we forget’

    Saqib it was not a ‘great Test match’. India would have been beaten by Ireland with the way the umpiring decisions panned out. A few wrong decisions going agaisnt one team, you can live with but there were at least 7 highly suspect decisions that went against the Indians ! So this Test was a farce that has effectively killed the series.

  33. Saqib — on 12th January, 2008 at 1:28 pm  

    Neil:

    It was a great test match, that was according to the likes of Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Manjreker – and i concur. Your equation with losing to Ireland is far-fetched, though I would agree, the umpiring was shocking, the worst i can think of in living memory.

    However there was some great cricket, and ultimately, even with the decisions India should not have lost. In the first innings, two Aussie tail enders made 50s, no bad umpiring there, similarly, India only had to bat 70 overs, and got bowled out by two part-time spinners, when the Indians are considered the best players of spin bowling. On on that same note, why did India’s two world class spinners not perform as well in the second innings?

  34. Muhamad — on 12th January, 2008 at 3:00 pm  

    Of course the Indians, especially the casteists, have made a religion out of their racism.

  35. Jai — on 12th January, 2008 at 3:10 pm  

    Well I don’t have much to add to this, apart from saying that Neil’s comments in particular are totally spot-on. Excellent posts by Kelvi and Saqib too.

    What I find disturbing is that, instead of focusing on trying to find out what actually happened, some people here are all to eager to quickly condemn the Indians and exonerate the Australians by a) repeatedly claiming that “Harbhajan called the Aussie a monkey” — so much for the concept of “innocent until proven guilty — despite the fact that there is NO PROOF OF THIS (and, as I originally speculated and as Mihir Bose has subsequently confirmed, Harbhajan actually said something else entirely), and b) the fact that this incident is being exploited by certain people here — particularly in the main article — to point the finger at protesting members of the Indian public completely unconnected with the cricket team and ridicule them, by essentially laughing and saying “Look at how uncivilised the natives are !”.

    Disturbing and depressing to see such behaviour on this blog. I expected better.

    Whether there is any effigy-burning going on is irrelevant. Whether any racism has historically been demonstrated towards visiting foreign players by the Indian public is irrelevant. Whether it is ever justifiable to use the Indian equivalent of a “yo mamma” insult towards someone else (even under provocation, as appears to be the case here) is also irrelevant. The only thing that IS relevant is whether Harbhajan actually called Andrew Symonds a “monkey” — and if this was not actually the case, then any allegations about Harbhajan being a racist are based on a completely false premise and this entire frikkin’ discussion is moot.

    Again, I also recommend that, when they have sufficent spare time, interested parties here read through the entire discussion thread over on SM (not just the main article by Anna). The debate there has been intellectually rigorous, well-balanced, and many of the commenters are very well-informed, both in relation to this specific incident and also the historical behaviour of Australian and Indian cricket teams.

  36. Neil — on 12th January, 2008 at 4:43 pm  

    Well put Jai, much more eloquently then I managed to. Some of the ‘look at those uncivilised natives’ attitude on here is amazing.

    Saqib I agree with you that India should not have lost the match, and their was some brilliant cricket by both sides. The manner of the defeat leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, and after many late nights following the match (and paying for it at work the next day!) I was very angry at the final result. (In much the same way that Pakistani fans would have been after the Oval Test, Daryl Hair fiasco)

    Apologies for my earlier spelling mistakes, I was quite shocked at the one-sided point of view in the lead article here.

    Fact is even the Aussie fans know that their team goes OTT regularly. The Australian Daily Telegraph ran a poll straight after the Test and 79% of the respondants said that the Aussies DID NOT play in the true spirit of the game and 83% said Ponting WAS NOT a good ambassador for the game. It brings to light Australia’s sometimes bullying tactics on the pitch do not sit easily even with their own public.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/7174992.stm

    It laughable really with some of the sledging the Australian team dish out, that they go running straight to the umpire when someone gives it back to them. Wasim Akram a truly great cricketer and one whom I greatly respect made the point well.

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/cricket/australians-hypocrites-cry-babies-wasim/2008/01/07/1199554571875.html

    Harbhajan MUST be found not guilty in the appeal. So many of the regular writers here bang on about Guantanamo bay detainees who are held without evidence (and rightly so) but are quick to condemn Harbhajan as a racist but WITH NO EVIDENCE. This is what all Indian fans (and many neutrals) are deeply unhappy about.

  37. Rumbold — on 13th January, 2008 at 6:42 pm  

    Apologies for the late reply.

    Neil and Jai:

    I never said that the effergies were of players. I knew they were of umpires. Sorry for not making that clear. I understand that one of the main issues is about the lack of evidence used to convict Harbajan, but the reaction of the BCCI is also important. As for stereotyping Indians as “uncivilised natives”, you know that is not the case. I am criticising those who burned effergies of living people while hurling abuse at them. If you think that sort of criticism is racist/colonialist, then again I would ask what you reaction would be if it happened in the UK.

    Jai:

    “What I find disturbing is that, instead of focusing on trying to find out what actually happened, some people here are all to eager to quickly condemn the Indians and exonerate the Australians.”

    Sorry, who has exonerated the Australians? I haven’t, nor has anyone else as far as I can tell.

    Neil:

    “Apologies for my earlier spelling mistakes, I was quite shocked at the one-sided point of view in the lead article here.”

    When you say ‘one-sided’, I presume you mean in the sense that both the Australians and Indians came in for criticism, since it wasn’t the Sepia Mutiny/Jai version where no Indians did anything wrong whatsoever and it was all the Aussies’ fault.

  38. Neil — on 13th January, 2008 at 8:20 pm  

    Your lead article really did not look at the relevant issues and instead gave a quote by an Australian-Indian spokeman, which would then be used as a stick with which to beat the Indians and their response. It implied by its very nature that Harbhajan was guilty.

    Yes you are correct the response of the BCCI is important and it was made in the aftermath of an incredibly tense and emotionally charged match (between the two best teams in the World). Therefore if your national team has just lost a close match largely due to umpiring mishaps and a player is found guilty of racial abuse without evidence, then I consider the BCCI’s response an appropriate one. The team and its senior players felt an injustice had occured, and when players the stature of Kumble get upset thn you know something has gone wrong.

    WRT the effigy burning: Like I said earlier its a non-issue. Effigy burning is a traditional non-violent method of protest on the Subcontinent. Sport inevitably invokes emotional responses in people (myself included), there is nothing wrong in that as such as long as it does not go OTT.

  39. Rumbold — on 13th January, 2008 at 8:55 pm  

    Neil:

    You are right that I should have included more information about the whole situation. Sorry. However, the reason I did not do that was partly because the story had been running for a while so mostpeople did not need the background, and partly because I considered the whole thing pretty farcical, expecially the quote about ‘moneky’ not being offensive.

    Effergy-burning is in the strictest sense non-violent, but I imagine that it must be deeply distressing for someone to see a physical representation of themselves being burned, while people who know what they look like stand around angrily chanting abuse.

  40. Rumbold — on 13th January, 2008 at 9:17 pm  

    Jai and Neil:

    Sorry, my #37 post comes across as a bit aggressive and rude. I sprained my wrist playing football this morning (not that this excuses it).

  41. Neil — on 13th January, 2008 at 9:29 pm  

    I agree with you about it being a stupid comment by that Indo-Australian guy and giving the whole Hanuman angle on it. He was not helping matters at all.

    The BCCI and Aussie board are far too much in bed with each other for this issue to have escalated and the tour to be suspended. I just hope common sense prevails and Harbhajan is found not guilty and India win a Test on this tour (but Sydney was really their best chance!). The removal of Umpire Bucknor took a lot of the sting out of the situation as well.

    I seriously empathised with those effigy burners though…was gonna burn some printed out photos of bucknor/benson myself but decided it was inappropriate in a residential suburb at 7am and also (more importantly) a waste of expensive colour ink.

  42. Neil — on 13th January, 2008 at 9:38 pm  

    No worries about post 37. I dont think your points in it are unreasonable at all.

  43. Rumbold — on 13th January, 2008 at 10:00 pm  

    Neil:

    “The BCCI and Aussie board are far too much in bed with each other for this issue to have escalated and the tour to be suspended. I just hope common sense prevails and Harbhajan is found not guilty and India win a Test on this tour (but Sydney was really their best chance!).”

    I agree, and I hope that the tour goes ahead. It would be nice too if the Aussies cleaned up their act after this, otherwise they will just be exposed as complete hypocrites.

    “The removal of Umpire Bucknor took a lot of the sting out of the situation as well.”

    Removing an umpire because of a country’s pressure is a bad precedent to set, as such calls will happen every time.

    “No worries about post 37. I dont think your points in it are unreasonable at all.”

    Thanks.

  44. Sunny — on 14th January, 2008 at 12:56 am  

    Yeah but Indians do bloody burn effigies too quickly! You know there were people burning effigies of the Tata Nano car when it was unveiled! Farmers! for some reason. I mean really… it’s a national sport out there.

  45. Jai — on 17th January, 2008 at 10:36 am  

    Rumbold,

    Sorry, my #37 post comes across as a bit aggressive and rude.

    Okay. Good points by Neil in #38 & 41, which basically mirrors my own view on the issue (and my reaction to your lead article).

    People are basically upset that the word of the Australian players was taken over that of the Indians (including Tendulkar, who is enormously respected over there) without any evidence either way. In fact, Sunil Gavaskar has escalated the matter even further, by openly calling Mike Proctor a liar and a racist:

    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2008/01/13/1200159283061.html

    I sprained my wrist playing football this morning (not that this excuses it).

    Yes, I hear that spending too much time on the internet apparently causes a lot of “sprained wrists” ;)

    Football shootball…..

  46. Jai — on 17th January, 2008 at 10:40 am  

    The last point above is just a joke, by the way, before anyone misinterprets it (since a lot of that’s been happening on PP recently…..)

  47. Ravi Naik — on 17th January, 2008 at 12:12 pm  

    “In fact, Sunil Gavaskar has escalated the matter even further, by openly calling Mike Proctor a liar and a racist”

    Jai, your point is a valid one. It seems to me that in the absence of hard proof, a 3 ban game is no doubt excessive and unfair.

    However, in the real world as well in sports, the word of the victim has a higher value than of the alleged aggressor. So if the victim says the aggressor said something racist, then it is usually believed to be so, even in the absence of proof. After all, most of us do not carry a voice-recorder.

    Another aspect of this whole circus, is that we are suffering a case of identity crisis. I mean, we are a very prejudiced nation, and as brown folk, and as Gavaskar has shown (#45), we are masters of using the race card when it suits us, we are just not used to be thrown that to our face.

    I also have to say that I am deeply ashamed that Indian audiences make monkey noises in reference to black players. If this is an accepted behavior, I have to say, I feel less inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to any Indian player. It can be unfair, but when you have to make a decision – you need to take into account the context as well.

  48. Jai — on 17th January, 2008 at 2:01 pm  

    Ravi,

    I also have to say that I am deeply ashamed that Indian audiences make monkey noises in reference to black players.

    Racism amongst members of the general Indian population is a separate issue to the primary topic we’re dealing with here. Also, you have no personal responsibility for such behaviour exhibited by Indian audiences and therefore you have nothing to be ashamed of.

    If this is an accepted behavior, I have to say, I feel less inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to any Indian player.

    There’s a difference between accepted behaviour amongst some sections of Indian audiences and accepted behaviour within the Indian cricket team. There is nothing to indicate that either the cricket team as a whole or Harbhajan in particular support, condone or excuse such racism amongst Indian audiences, and the idiocy exhibited by some of the latter has no relation to whether a player himself will share such prejudices. It’s a non sequitur.

    The equivalent scenario would be to penalise an English football player in response to a false charge of racism just because English football fans don’t exactly have a reputation for civilised behaviour overseas.

    It can be unfair, but when you have to make a decision – you need to take into account the context as well.

    If we’re going to follow that line of logic, then you also need to take into account the context of the Australian team’s abusive and unscrupulous behavior, both historically and in the present day. This would lead one to a) speculate about what Symonds actually said to Harbhajan to provoke a response (whether it was “monkey” or “Teri maa ki”), b) whether the provocation was undertaken spontaneously or as a deliberate, premeditated tactic, and c) whether they would deliberately make a false accusation in order to twist the situation to their benefit.

    You see the path that this leads us down. Anyway, all this — including both sides of the argument — have already been debated extensively by some commenters over on SM, so I don’t want to belabor the issue here. People can check out the SM thread to see how all this has already been hammered out.

  49. Jai — on 17th January, 2008 at 2:02 pm  

    Also, you have no personal responsibility for such behaviour exhibited by Indian audiences….

    Especially those living thousands of miles away in a different country.

  50. Jai — on 17th January, 2008 at 2:34 pm  

    PS Ravi, I did post a couple of replies to you on the “ungraceful grace” thread before PP was hijacked. Just in case you missed that, although I don’t know if you want to resuscitate what is now clearly a dead horse ;)

    I thought the controversy surrounding Tom Cruise’s Youtube video about Scientology was coincidental timing though, considering what we were discussing about religious freedom, the dangers of people creating their own cults, etc.

    Anyway, back to cricket, innit.

  51. Rumbold — on 20th January, 2008 at 12:40 pm  

    Jai:

    “Yes, I hear that spending too much time on the internet apparently causes a lot of “sprained wrists””

    Heh. Wrong wrist though. Sorry for the late reply.

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