Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Arguments against Gray apologists

Since Andy Gray, Sky Sports pundit and occasional sexist bigot was fired for having an insulting and sexist conversation about a female assistant referee, Sian Massey, with his colleague Richard Keys and behaving in an obscene manner towards another colleague, Charlotte Jackson, a lot of people have been questioning the decision and labelling it as 'unfair' for one reason or another. The most common arguments I've seen so far have been:
  1. "Lots of people in the football industry are sexist and don't get fired"
  2. "The conversation about Sian Massey was just banter, they didn't know they were being recorded"
  3. "Charlotte Jackson didn't look too bothered by what he said"
  4. "Loose Women is sexist too"
  5. "It's just because of a media frenzy"
  6. "IT'S PC GONE MAD!!!"
  7. "Well he's good at his job"
  8. "It's because he's suing the News Of The World"

I'm going to take each of these arguments in turn and explain why they don't mean that this hideous misogynist should still be in employment. I can't explain why Richard Keys still (at the moment) is, by the way, I think he should have his sorry arse slung out too.

EDIT: Keys has quit. *Does feminist victory dance* Achem. Also: I know that Gray was technically fired for the Jackson thing, but I'm just responding to the arguments I have seen, and most of these seem to centre on the Massey incident.

1. "Lots of people in the football industry are sexist and don't get fired".

Well, yes - this may be the case, but this doesn't mean that Gray shouldn't have been fired. Imagine you employed thirty people and knew that some of them were stealing from you. You eventually got proof of one of them stealing. Would you let them keep their job because you couldn't prove anything against the others?

Another reason that this argument is flawed is because it's essentially saying that if enough people say discriminatory things, then it's OK. It's like an EDL member trying to defend saying something racist 'because other people say racist things too'. Just because more than one person shares a disgusting point of view does not legitimise it.

Hopefully, now that we have evidence that so-called professionals at a football match are unable to accept someone who is clearly capable of their job based purely on their gender, and they have been publically rebuked for their abhorrent point of view, this will mean that we can move forward and start making changes to rectify the situation.

2. "It was just a bit of innocent banter, they didn't know they were being recorded".

Firstly, I don't think that what was said about Massey was innocent banter. To me, it sounded like vitriolic misogyny. However, apparently some people don't agree with this, so I am not going to argue this point.

What I will argue though, is that there is a time and a place for banter. You banter when socialising. You can't use the 'banter' defence at work. If you said something that offensive or discriminatory about a colleague at work  - even if you were joking - and were overheard by your boss, you'd find it hard to justify yourself to them by saying "Woah there! Calm down! Just lads being lads!".

The above point also applies to them not knowing they were being recorded. So what if they didn't know? The fact is, they were at work. They shouldn't have been saying them in the first place - it's irrelevant whether they knew that they would be heard or not.

A final point is to consider what would have been said if they had been saying that an assistant referee was incapable of doing their job because they were a member of an ethnic minority - would people have tried to justify racism as banter? I highly doubt it. Sexism is just as unacceptable as racism - it's discrimination on the grounds of a physical characteristic of a human being that is intrinsically and historically linked to oppression of those with that physical characteristic.

3. "Charlotte Jackson didn't look too bothered by what he said".

Personally, I do think that she looked bothered by what was being said to her in the video. However, I'm aware that that's my personal interpretation of her expression and I may be wrong.

So, assuming I am wrong, and she looks like she's OK with her colleagues saying this kind of thing to her, there's two points I'd like to make. The first is that there's the possibility she may have just been putting on a brave face. I work in an environment where, occasionally, someone will make a disgusting comment to me. Usually, I'll stand up for myself, but you quickly learn that there are some kinds of men who will only use this as a reason to continue doing it, and the best thing is to not rise to the bait. The second is that even if Jackson genuinely wasn't upset by what he said, that doesn't matter. She's not his boss.

4. "Loose Women is sexist too".

Yes. Loose Women is horrible. It's a foul programme, and yes - I do think it's unacceptable and should be stopped. The fact that bosses at a different TV channel haven't fired them doesn't mean that Gray shouldn't be fired though. That's like someone saying they shouldn't be prosecuted for a crime in England because the same activity is not a crime in France.

A further point to make about Loose Women and other examples of 'female sexism' is that it's usually seen as more acceptable because institutional sexism on the part of women towards men is not and has never been a problem in society, but vice versa is. It's like why we can have groups like the Metropolitan Black Police Association, but not the Metropolitan White Police Association (Philip Davies, take note).

5. "It's because of a media frenzy".

The only reason there was a media frenzy is because what Gray and Keys said about Massey was so clearly unacceptable! Frankly, I can only hope that there are more 'media frenzies' like this, if it results in more horrible bigots being exposed and losing their jobs.

6. "IT'S PC GONE MAD!!!"

*facepalm* Right. This argument's so very clearly stupid, all I'll say is this: Political Correctness did not force Gray to be a nasty dickhead in his place of work, he did that all by himself.

7.  "Well, he's good at his job"

Again, another clearly ridiculous argument. I have no idea about what makes a good football pundit, or what Gray is like as one. It certainly seems to be a divisive issue. That aside, all I have to say is - do you think if someone who was consistently employee of the month walked up to their boss one day and punched them in the face, they would keep their job?

8. "It's because he's suing News Of The World".

Whilst if this is the thing that pushed Sky to fire Gray after his shameful actions then that's clearly the wrong reason for Sky to reach their decision. However, this does not mean that the wrong decision was reached. A decision made without due process can still be the right decision to make, just a decision that is reached via the wrong methods. Basically: yes, it's dodgy as hell, but it doesn't mean that Gray should still have a job.


  1. "...it's essentially saying that if enough people say discriminatory things, then it's OK."

    An justification I've heard ad nauseam from the PCC.

  2. He was sacked not for what he said about the assistant, but what he said about another incident when he made a serious sexual insult about asking a young women to put her hand down his pants, he said come and tuck this in.

    Gray and keys are not the best within Football but they are for sure not the only ones are they, remember the insults about black players.

    But the real problem of course if a women was the best player in the world out standing, she would not have been able to play in a mens team, even to day if I remember girls can only play up to the age of twelve then they can only play for a womens team, in my area we have no womens team, we have no disability teams either.

    Seems that refereeing is OK, yet we have no special changing rooms, thats the reason for not allowing girls to play in mens team.

    And I've seen it all in my 33 years as a referee.

  3. Also, a point in relation to 7, he's actually pretty poor at his job. He shows constant bias towards the bigger teams, and will argue any decision that goes against Man Utd or Chelsea. He's a thoroughly pathetic man.

  4. The best justification I can think of is for the (hypothetical) case where it was just the Sian Massey comments as a one-off incident. Then I'd say it's bad, but maybe not a sacking offence for that alone. That's a bit of a judgement call, but people do unpleasant and unprofessional things in other jobs without instant dismissal being the only recourse. I think this one may be at the level of "severe bollocking, suspension and explaining in no uncertain terms why we don't do this", plus the damage to their professional reputation they've brought on themselves.

    However, it clearly wasn't just a one-off incident and they've been behaving like this for years. So fuck 'em, they deserve to go. It is suspicious that the other footage of Gray was suddenly 'discovered' to show this, but that could also easily be down to someone who hated working with him. And by the sound of it, that's a fairly long list.

  5. Re #7, he's bloody awful. Along with all his other failings pointed out by Robert, he also declines to describe what's actually going on in favour of making up imaginary conversations between players...

    #2 - whatever you think about this, his comments to Charlotte Jackson were plain old sexual harassment. Which I'd hope we can all agree should be a sacking offence.

    The most mind-bendingly weird defence I've read compares him to Julian Assange. "Yeah, they might be wrong, but we don't prosecute most rapists/sack most sexists, so THERE MUST BE A SECRET AGENDA!" Which - so? Doesn't make Gray any less of a douchecanoe.

  6. Sorry - Undersized Hobbit, not Robert.

  7. This is just superb stuff. Very good.



  8. Massey showed her skill and fitness for the role she is qualified to hold by making a superb "off side" call during the match in question. Unfortunately and despite this the poor lass must be distraught, not because her judgement was called into question, but because Andy Gray "wouldn't go there!" Seriously - I want his mirror to make me feel better.
    Sky obviously realised the massive contribution women make to footballing coffers and did a quick risk analysis.
    As for whether sexism is still rife in football - just see Roberts comments for an answer to that question.
    And just for the record Andy - I wouldn't

  9. Perhaps we could do with an anti-sexism campaign in a similar vein to the 'kick racism out of football' one? Because without some major, organised effort I don't see this rife sexism going away.