The great “Mong” debate

Hello folks!

Yes, it’s absent old me. I’ve been very busy. I know, excuses excuses. But seriously: I have three jobs. I’ve been very busy.

One of my jobs is as a learning disabilities support worker. So it’ll come as no surprise to you that I have very strong opinions on the recent Ricky Gervais fiasco.

The long and short of it is, Gervais regularly uses the word “Mong”, and makes “Mong faces”, captioning his self-portraits with phrases such as “my favourite drink is toilet”.

Now, to be clear, the word “Mong” derives from “Mongol”, a derogatory reference to individuals with Down Syndrome. It’s not particularly nice.

But apparently, Gervais didn’t mean it like that! Mong now means “dopey or ignorant”. No sign of an apology for causing any offence. Just back pedalling and “well I never meant it to mean Downs…”.

I’ve heard it all – it’s all about intent, “I know someone with Down syndrome so that gives me the right to use the word mong…” etc. etc.

I think Twitter user @SonniesEdge sums up my feelings best – “Words like mong, spaz and retard still have horrible, horrible connotations for people. YOU do not get to tell them what they feel.”

Rather than acting very defensive and, frankly, quite childish, perhaps Gervais should just apologise and realise that he is a public figure, and using words like that WILL offend people. Yes, language changes, but the associations and the hurt attached to words do not go away. Words are loaded, incredibly powerful things.

Thoughts welcome.


4 thoughts on “The great “Mong” debate

  1. Here in the States (and quite a bit on twitter) people use the words “insane,” “crazy, ” “schizo”and “psycho” a lot. These same supposedly enlightened people would never use the N word or refer to someone as a faggot or a retard, but can’t seem to grasp that the mentally ill have feelings too.
    When I’ve called them on it the overall response is that I’m being too judgemental, too politically correct, making a big deal out of nothing!
    Astrid, thanks for taking a stand on your side of the pond. I’m going to quote you on twitter now. 😉


  2. Love that point – N-word now means “brother or friend” – so lets all use it that way in everyday conversation.

    Funny though – Gervais now means “being a prat”

    words are fun arent they!?


    • Oh aye – but if you’re white and call someone a “brother or friend” using that particular word, it’s still got the connotations and taboo. So what makes “mong” any different?

      Yes, Gervais = “tool”!


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