Monkeys and Racism

Racism is to be condemned.

The lines that define racism are in many cases blurred. Moreover the 'context' can also in many cases define something as either racist or 'out of line'. In my view, the Harbhajan Singh 'monkey' comment can be classified more as 'out of line' and not racist. Within the Indian sub continent the 'monkey' term is used quite liberally. Is that in any way a defence to what Harbhajan said ? Absolutely not. But this in a way absolves him of the tag of a racist.

Malcolm Gladwell qualifies an utterance as racist based on 3 criteria, namely, content, intention and conviction. Based on all these criteria, one can conclude that the 'monkey comment' was more a reactive outburst (remember Australian sledging is legendary), that was not intended to wound and carried absolutely low levels of conviction.

Therefore does Harbhajan need to be pardoned? Surely, but with a warning. The ban is definitely excessive.


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