The Guardian: An Open Letter to Ricky Gervais

As featured in The Guardian’s Society Section

Dear Ricky,

Hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to tell you a story. It’s not very long and quite frankly may not have much effect on you. But if you can read to the end, I’d really appreciate it.

I’m six years old. I’m in a playground on Wandsworth common with my older sister and my au pair. I am playing on the climbing frame whilst my sister is bouncing a basket ball repeatedly on the ground. Bounce…bounce…bounce…

A scruffy boy who must be about nine years old towers over my sister. He has one of his front teeth missing and grass stains on his knees. His hair is dirty blonde and scruffed up.

With one big movement he snatches the ball from my sister. Bottom lip stuck out she wails and I rush to her side.
He looks her in the eyes and in a sing-songy voice declares: “you’re a mong…you’re a mong”
I look over to her – my sister, who has Down’s Syndrome – she looks devastated.

I had never heard the word he was using before. It made my blood boil. Tears welled up in my eyes with anger at this little prick. I swung my right leg behind me and produced an almighty blow to his shin. Sadly – it didn’t hurt him, I wasn’t the best at dealing out pain. But he did drop the ball and leave us alone.

Two decades later and I – luckily – have never heard anyone call my sister that since. Thanks to the work of Mencap and the Down’s Syndrome Association that word was well on its way out by the time my sister and I were growing up. But the prejudice and stereotyping about her condition still remains.

I am not overly PC. Far from it, I’m very much into my edgy humour. But what I will not ever support is idiotic, crass humour that quite frankly is obtuse and just plain stupid. You’re little ‘mong’ campaign may amuse you no end –  I bet you think you’re being really ‘dark’ and ‘controversial’. But you’re not speaking up for the likes of me – or anyone in this “cotton-wool” society.

You may think it ‘means’ something else now – but it still has it’s original context to most. And if used in a derogatory fashion you’re just going to undo all the work to take it out of the modern English language. And repeatedly using it on twitter is not big or clever.

In my opinion you’re just incorrectly using a word. A word that quite frankly is out-dated and only old people say.
Not very ‘hip’ and ‘now’ from one of the world’s best comedians is it?

You may think whatever campaign you have going on twitter may be a little protest against the Mary Whitehouses of 2011. But it does not impress me – or anyone from the more liberal walks of life. It’s boring and inane humour.

In a nutshell: It’s. Not. Funny.

So I’d stop before you make a complete tit out of yourself.

Come on Ricky, don’t be a dick!

And one last thing; if your liberal bandying about of the word mong encourages one more poor little influenced douchebag in the playground to call another kid a mong – I’ll personally come and show your shin what my right leg is now capable of after twenty years of practise.

Kind regards

Lexi Rose

Inspired by this article

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