Recently I postulated that Gen Angus Campbell might, on retirement from imposing gender quotas on our Defence Force, have a role in cleansing football codes of unacceptable symbology along the lines of his similar push within the Defence Force. The more I thought about, the more I realized there is very fertile ground here for his particular penchant for political correctness and not just confined to death iconography.
Think about it. As a general observation, the appropriation of animals as team nicknames – a kind of reverse anthropomorphism – is clearly demeaning to animal culture. But I will leave it to PETA to pursue this theme . No distortion of logic or common sense seems to be beyond them. However, I think this might just be a step too far.
But let’s take a few real problem cases. As I already pointed out, the Canberra Raiders, with their Viking mascot redolent of rape and pillage, would be among the first for a makeover. Also, the Essendon Bombers. Whether their emblem conjures up British Lancasters raining death down on Dresden, American B29s obliterating Hiroshima and Nagasaki or American B52s laying waste to Haiphong Harbour, there is no doubt this is a grossly offensive symbology. Perhaps such a flagrant abuse of good taste could be rectified by them henceforth becoming, say, the Essendon Ambulances.
These are the most obvious examples but there are other offensive images, somewhat more subtle than these, but corrosive nonetheless.
Take the Sydney Roosters. Well, I ask you. A symbol of rampant, male sexuality exemplified in the Spanish word for a cock bird – macho. This will never do. But what to replace the rooster with? Gen Campbell might think the Sydney Hens would be a much more acceptable image.
Then we have the Newcastle Knights. No-one these days thinks of knights as gallant warriors engaging their enemy with a suitable degree of humility. No, they are most often associated, in the public mind, with the Crusades and therefore grossly offensive to Muslims. The Newcastle Coalminers, that first comes to mind as an obvious replacement with genuine local connection, is, on reflection, also likely to be problematic.
Which brings me to the Melbourne Storm, clearly glorifying the extreme weather havoc wrought by climate change. How insensitive can you get? Maybe they could become the Melbourne Zephyr?
Getting back to the topic of using animal names, I originally suggested that the Lions and Bulldogs might be acceptable because they are traditionally associated with courage. Others such as Tigers and Sharks, with their reputation as man eaters, are more problematical. However on reflection I think a case could be made to retain these two emblems as they are under threat of extinction and as victims they probably deserve some exposure. In that event though, the Tiger of course should not be portrayed springing on a defenceless prey, but slinking away into the jungle.
The more I look into it the more I realize what a minefield this is. Even apparently innocuous imagery can hide potential offence triggers. You would think that South Sydney with their rabbit iconography would be beyond reproach, other than for the aforementioned identity appropriation, and in essence they are. The only problem is that they are mostly referred to as the Rabbittos. The suffix ‘o’ in many languages denotes a male name or noun and so should be avoided. Just call them the Rabbits and that should be OK.
You think I’m joking? Just give it time.