There is some pretty awful stuff going on in the world, but it’s a little bit of sexism that dominated the headlines and headspace the last few days. Putin & Co. won’t learn that you can’t bomb terrorists into submission – the hard violence doesn’t deter people who are convinced they (a) have nothing to lose and (b) are earning heaven by blowing themselves up. But, Putin & Co. aren’t the only ones to think that massive force is a long-term substitute for justice.
I remember hearing Mel Brooks explaining (in defence of the tastelessly funny ‘Springtime for Hitler’ in his film The Producers) that tyrants and dictators are best opposed by ridicule. Of course that’s not an argument against armed conflict per se, but it does make the point that getting people to laugh at preposterous pomposity is a good starting point for opposition. (Which is why satire is important.)
I am sure Sky has done the right thing in sacking Andy Gray for his outrageous and unprofessional sexism. They had to be seen to act – to do something in order to demonstrate that such behaviour and attitudes are unacceptable. Yet, as with other ‘unacceptable attitudes’ (racism, for example), removing the embarrassing culprit does little or nothing to change the attitude or prejudice: it merely pushes it underground. Then people who think that way just keep quiet about it.
But, I wonder if it might have been better to give Andy Gray an alternative. How about a two-hour programme in which he, the only man in the studio, is interviewed and questioned by a panel of prominent sportswomen. They could draw out his views and expose them to the ridicule they deserve. Lay them out in the cold light of day. Let them be seen for what they are. Put Gray on the rack of public entertainment rather than sack him?
And – please – let Kenny Dalglish’s daughter Kelly be chief interrogator. A former presenter on Sky Sports News, her tweet yesterday was perfect:
Phew, am exhausted. Just read about something called ‘the offside rule’. Too much for my tiny brain. Must be damaged from nail polish fumes.