The main news story down here, and I suspect back in the States, has been the Steve Williams’ dinner speech at which he dropped both a racial epithet and the British Empire’s version of the American word a$$hole.
The outcry has been substantial – unsurprisingly so – but I have to say that down here, language that would pass for shocking in the US, and even in the UK, is pretty standard. Kiwi / Australian technique seems to be “pick the most outstanding feature, call it, and add a swearword to make people take notice.”
Pommy bastard (for Brits) is famous but also common are Fat xxxxxxx, Bald xxxxx, Ginger xxxxxx, and Curly headed xxxx. As both father and son of a Ginger (dodged that bullet), I think it’s fun but when the identifier is something like “black”, the intent is not the same as it could be in other cultures. The mixed culture here means that you are as likely to be in the presence of all of the above in any given bar. Fatties, Gingers, Baldies and, yes, Blacks would all get teased using shocking language just as that’s what they do here.
“Shocking” is the norm. I took a train ride yesterday through the stunning Taiei Gorge. The guard asked a little old lady (she must have been mid-80s at least) how her cruise crossing over from Australia had been; her reply – (think Jessica Tandy at this point): “Rough as buggery”…
Williams is indeed an idiot – no excuses – not to realize that social media makes all events both public and global within seconds. I doubt very much that he’s a racist, in the same way that people tend not to be really Fat-ist, Ginger-ist or Bald-ist. If he’d been quick-thinking enough to blurt out “lecherous ar$ehole” – he’d have been as shocking with fewer ramifications. Of Tiger’s two main distinguishing features, he chose the wrong one – the VERY wrong one. As (another) pithy Antipodean put it, Williams being an idiot doesn’t make Tiger any less of an ar$ehole. Exactly.