Politicians have fallen over themselves to condemn the appalling offence Harry has caused for everyone of sound and civilised mind. Actuallyu lets correct that for minute, the only people Harry could possibly have offended is the person he was talking too, and the people there at the time. Anyone else who may have taken offence, Cameron, Clegg, Brown et al have only done so thank to the News of the World publishing it and then having to be outraged by it.
Earlier on this morning I noted on a Twitter update that if ignorance is no defence then where was the worldwide outrage when George Bush really did just use abbreviation akin to Brits for Britains when he referred to "pakis" in a speech. This is actually an important point, because for some strange reason the reaction to Bush was very much "well he didn't know so it's ok", or "it was an abbreviation, whoops". He was excused on the grounds of context.
Now if we rewind to the Harry incident and other such incidents that have occured we come back to that contextual placement of the words. Furthrmore we need to consider how peer groups speak to each other. As one colleague of mine who was in the forces noted,
"If someone said 'paki' to my face they'd get a mouthful of racial abuse back, that's how it works. It's when you start using those terms behind someone back that it becomes a problem"This is kind of crucial to the way real racism works as opposed to language that is used which contains identifying features as its core component. Thus I come to the title of this post, what about the gorahs?
If you don't know the word gorah that might be because you speak English and take no interest in learning other language especially those from the Indian sub-continent. I happen to have an interest in it - especially swear words - and gorah is, especially if prefixed with sali, a derogotory term for "white boy/bastard".
It is a term that, like "paki", can be non-deorgotory if contextually placed in a peer group of say white and Asian kids who banter with each other using racial terms. Are there calls to ban it though? Did anyone care when it was used in Bend It Like Beckham? Furthermore, does anyone care if they see a Mexican call a white guy "gringo"? What about if a Chinese person says "gweilo"?
The bottom line it seems is this. Yet again we have a scenario that has been reported in the press which causes column inches of commentary that for the most part fail to acknowledge that the contextuality of language is the key to defining racism, it is the words themselves that are, by definition racially negative.