I haven’t lived in Newcastle for 30 years,

since long before the local rugby league team went National and made stars of the Johns brothers, yet I’ve heard enough stories over the years about them that nothing crass, selfish, dangerous, destructive or insensitive that either of them could ever do will ever surprise me. They are, quite literally, infamous and have been so locally for nearly 20 years.

So why on earth are people saying that Timana Tahu could/should just have confronted Johns at the time of his racist comments on the field instead of taking it to the papers, as if there was ever any reasonable expectation that Andrew Johns would take a challenge to his authority as coach at all seriously or respectfully if it was kept on-field only? Teammates are now coming forward with regrets that they didn’t stand up for Tahu and say something to Johns themselves at the time, but it was probably for exactly the same reason – expecting that Johns would most likely just be dismissive and mocking about any such in-house complaints.

The Johns brothers only ever say “the right things” about their bad behaviour on the rare occasions when they get criticised for an incident in the media. I don’t think that’s anywhere near good enough.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, media

Tags: , ,

12 replies

  1. I was in a cab on my way to a meeting this afternoon, and the cabbie had one of the talkback stations on. I was actually quite impressed with the announcer (who googling now that I’m home reveals was Tim Webster) being quite sensible on the topic from what I heard and basically calling out NRL Official-dom for leaving this all to Tahu. Of course, his first calling was some special snowflake white lady (she specifically identified herself as white), talking about how she has friends “of all races and colours” and blah blah “what if someone called me a white -” and then I asked the cabbie to turn of the radio before I broke his cab or yelled a string of expletives at his radio, because I figure neither of those are nice things to do to a man just trying to do his job and get me to my meeting.

    • From ABC Sport:

      Bellear said Johns simply does not understand racism or the impact that his comments have on players of colour.
      “That’s the unfortunate thing, that’s why I’m taking a big stand on this, that we really must understand what racism is and the different effects it has on different people and different players,” he said.
      “If we keep covering up inappropriate sexual behaviour when they’re on tour, then that would continue to go on.
      “We had to take a very strong stand on sexual assaults … that was being carried on by players, and sponsors withdrew to highlight it and say ‘enough’s enough’.
      “Sexual assault against women has emotional and physical issues there, [and] this to a lot of Aboriginal people is an emotional thing.
      “But in order to arrest racism in rugby league we need to have a zero tolerance policy.”

  2. I only wish that Channel 9 would take such a principled stance. They have accepted Johns’ apology. How nice for them, what the hell was he apologising to them for? Don’t they realise that by continuing to employ him they are complicit?

  3. @Mindy: I know, right? I must admit, some weird thing about our cable tv which results in us not having access to Ch 7/9/10 (but thankfully still having ABC & SBS) means I get to avoid a lot of the commercial telly fail without really trying, so I kinda rely on the internet to let me know about the commercial networks doing horrible shit. I’m utterly unsurprised 9 is taking the stance it has; but that doesn’t stop me thinking it’s terrible.

  4. I like all the obnoxious white football fans crying over their state of origin chances being ruined by Tahu’s departure and yet simultaneously (and without a hint of self-awareness) demanding that Tahu “drink a cup of concrete and harden the f* up” because it is only a bit of racism. Oh, show us how it’s done then, show us how you suck it up, it is only a game boys, stop crying over a teeny weeny game.

  5. @blue milk – I was wondering how long it would take for that ridiculousness to start. *sigh*
    Though to be snarky for a moment, the Queenslander in me is rather tempted to respond to the crying with “what state of origin chances?” /trolling

  6. @ Jennifer – when it comes to SOO I think you are quite entitled to a bit of trolling. As a Cockroach I have to agree with you.
    @ Bluemilk, yes why don’t supporters harden up, it is afterall just a game and we got beaten in the first one with Tahu. Maybe if they took the tack that this will make them stronger?

  7. I gotta say, it’s just a little bit sweet that the first try scored tonight was by Glen Inglis, the target of Johns’ comments.

  8. Story today that a few former Knights players allegedly left the club because of the continual racist comments by Johns and others.
    With Tahu is seems it was something that had been building and I’d say he had tried to talk it out with no result. Even though he is estranged from his stepfather, I’d say his stepfather’s experience at the hands of NSW Police after he challenged entrenched racism affected Tahu heavily. The actions of the the NSWRL administration did not help either, especially with attempted the cover up.
    Tahu did the right thing by him and to keep it in house would likely have never lead Johns to acknowledge what he did that was wrong.

    • And this morning, AFL takes the heat off the NRL with some numpty calling indigenous players “cannibals”. Wow.

      On the way out of the function, Brown pointed at newspaper reporters and said: ”Don’t you go writing what I said about those Abos.”

      If he had enough awareness to say that on the way out of the lunch, he should have had enough awareness not to bloody say racist rubbish in front of the mic.

  9. I have also heard terrible stories for years from Newcastle locals about the Johns brothers.

    And God, I was happy to see that Inglis had a blinder of a game.

  10. @tigtog …CANNIBALS? SERIOUSLY? *sigh* You’re right about the fact that he harrangued reporters about it afterwards being indicative that he knew what he was saying.

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