The media needs to stop condoning the booing and bullying of Adam Goodes

adam-ferrierMedia commentators not condemning the booing of AFL star Adam Goodes are effectively condoning bullying argues Adam Ferrier.

I have always admired Adam Goodes. Dual Brownlow medallist, premiership player, Australian of the Year, continued good work for indigenous people. He certainly deserves respect. Don’t know if I like him or not though, never met the guy.

However, Alan Jones commented on the issue recently and said the reason Goodes is getting booed is just that, ‘Because they just don’t like the fellow’.

What a damaging thing to say, and surely it’s not as simple as that?

I’d suggest the booing stems from a lot of complex emotions and crowd dynamics precipitated by underlying racism, and rationalised by a few things that Adam Goodes has done recently (such as, proudly expressing and standing up for his indigenous rights). I think it’s possibly the final bastions of socially condoned racism we hear echoing across the ground.

Adam Goodes

Adam Goodes

In one way it’s good it’s happening as its flushing out the last remnants (blindly hopefully) of the collective racist spirit in Australia.

However, I no longer think it matters what the reasons for the booing Goodes are. This weekend one of our most accomplished footballers is not taking the field because of the consistent booing. The booing has morphed into bullying, and it’s simply got to stop.

The objective facts of the matter are we have a situation of mass bullying on our hands. A whole lot of people, under the veil of anonymity are attempting to take someone down by continually expressing how much they all collectively ‘don’t like the fellow’. It’s schoolyard mob mentality on a grand scale.

Some of us will complain, and shoot back that ‘cheering and jeering’ for our teams and the players been instrumental to the celebration of the reality TV that is sport since its inception. Buddy Franklyn gets booed by the Hawks whenever they play Sydney – reason being he left the former club for the later. So just twice a year Buddy braces himself for the abuse.

You can rationalise other reasons than racism for the Goodes booing if you insist, but all of these rationalisations of the behaviour must fade away when you consider the harm we are collectively doing to one person, and if he’s feeling vilified – well then it must stop.

It’s like a bunch of racists have decided to have a protest and behave in a unpleasant fashion. Others have jumped on the bandwagon without really knowing what the instigators are saying; they are just going along with it.

However, just going along with it gives power to the initial racist idiots, and the overall behaviour of the mob becomes harmful.

And this is not behaviour for Alan Jones and other commentators to condone.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones

Jones’ comments are fuelling the situation, and making the bullying worse. It confuses me why a man in that position would not want to promote tolerance, and instead fuel bullying and shame.

I’ve been outraged by what I’ve seen on TV and listening to the boos on Sunday broke my heart.

However, having respected people in media join in the vilification of one of Australia’s heroes (Australian of the Year and all that) is too much for us to stay silent on. Now Alan Jones may not be a racist, (although he was found guilty of racial vilification not long ago) but even so, giving the masses an excuse to keep on behaving as they are saddens me.

The booing behaviour is harmful. The condoning of it by prominent people in the media is downright dangerous. If you’re in the media and reading this please use your positions of power to help stop the booing. If you go to the footy and hear someone booing Goodes tell them to pull their head in.

Perhaps by coincidence this quote from Desmond Tutu is doing the rounds on social media at the moment: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Time to silence the booing please.

  • Adam Ferrier is chief strategy officer of Cummins & Partners

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