Monday 18 December 2017

Chris Wasser: Why Ronan's public apology was far more offensive than the Late Late gag

Ronan O'Gara and his wife Jessica
Ronan O'Gara and his wife Jessica

Right, come on, admit it. Who else laughed? I did. And I won't apologise for it, either. Let me explain.

Last Friday's hilarious Valentines-themed special of The Late Late Show saw Ronan O'Gara, home from France for the weekend, invited on to talk about his career.

Yes, we know - O'Gara is a sporting figure. Nowt to do with Valentine's Day but sure look it, the Late Late Show is a long, long show, and it's not every weekend O'Gara is out in Montrose.

Rugby, family, his work as an attacking coach for Racing Metro in Paris - it was all up for grabs.

Then, Tubridy asked O'Gara the question: "You scored 2,625 points for Munster and you have five kids under the age of six...which are you most proud of?"

JOKE

What did O'Gara say? Why, he made a joke about his wife. "I wouldn't be nervous getting up on Jessica," answered Ronan, "but I'd be nervous kicking a ball."

Well, blimey, Ronan. I almost spat me beer out. Again, I laughed. The people around me laughed. The guys and gals in the audience (a rowdy bunch, you might have heard) lapped it up. Tubs didn't know where to look. But he also laughed.

It was a quick and humorous one-liner to a 'question' that was crying out for a quick and humorous one-liner.

Disrespectful, for sure, but to anyone other than Ronan's wife and/or family? Get off it.

Such a shame then that, after a weekend which saw all things Ronan go 'viral' (his suit caused a bit of a stir, too), O'Gara returned to Paris and posted a message on Twitter to say he's sorry.

Sorry to Jessica (wise man) and to anyone else he might have offended with his "very poor joke". Well that last bit is where I have a problem.

Let me put it this way. Ronan did not make a joke about murder, abuse, race, rape or suicide. He passed an amusing yet cheeky comment about his wife, and we all had a chuckle.

Partly, because we knew it'd land him in trouble at home, and partly, because we still get a kick out of a crude quip. We're only human - so is Ronan.

But for anyone outside of Jessica O'Gara's family to suggest that they found Ronan's comment 'offensive' is a sign of a world gone PC mad.

Granted, if my brother-in-law was to pass a comment like that about my sister, it wouldn't end well - for him. So, yeah, maybe I do have double standards.

Or maybe I refuse to lose the rag over some joke a man I've never met made about his other half.

He shouldn't have said what he did but the reaction online (the PC brigade are raging) was over-the-top.

Here we have a celebrated sportsman whose name has been dragged into all manner of debates and arguments on sexual politics by those incessant keyboard warriors who drop all-capped words like 'DISGRACEFUL' and 'DISGUSTING' over the mildest of mild remarks.

CHILL

All because he made a little joke. The keyboard fumers need to chill.

It's a pity that Ronan felt the need to issue a public apology. Saying sorry to his wife is one thing and that's entirely his business.

But to the comment-leavers and Twitter users who get their knickers in a twist whenever anyone steps outside the box? Don't be an eejit, Ronan.

Ok, don't pass comments like that about your wife; but a big online statement/apology to us isn't necessary. In fact, it only encourages the PC police.

As for the small number of people who, sigh, complained to RTE. Might I suggest changing the channel instead?

It's cheaper than a phone call.

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