Ofcom: “It’s OK to call SuBo a mong”

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OfCom rules that Gervais' comments were justified because they were broadcast post-watershed

BRITAIN’S TV watchdog has rejected three complaints about Ricky Gervais’ use of the word “mong” on a Channel 4 show.

The star of the office made the comments about Scots singer Susan Boyle during his live show Science last year.

But Ofcom ruled that the 50-year-old was justified in using the term – which is an offensive slur for people with Down’s Syndrome – because it was broadcast after the 9pm watershed.

They said the use of the term was “justified in the context of provocative comedy”.

Talking about SuBo during the October show, he said: “She would not be where she is today if it wasn’t for the fact that she looked like such a f*****g mong.

“When she first came on the telly, I went, ‘Is that a mong?’ You all did.”

Context

During the show, Gervais added that he didn’t mean Boyle had Down’s Syndrome, and disputed that the term “mong” was no longer associated Down’s Syndrome.

Gervais claimed the term no longer refered to those with Down's Syndrome (Picture by Thomas Atilla Lewis)

Ofcom said that in the name of freedom of expression, no word was banned after the TV watershed.

In its ruling, Ofcom said: “We noted that the programme began at 22:35, more than an hour and a half after the watershed, and that therefore most viewers of the programme would have been expecting stronger and more challenging content.

“The late scheduling of the programme, and its late night comedy context on Channel 4, meant that the majority of the audience was likely to expect the exploratory and subversive bent of the programme in general and of Ricky Gervais’s humour in particular.”

Speaking about the controversy last year, Gervais said: “I have used ‘mong’, but never to mean Down Syndrome and never would.

“The meaning of words change over time, ‘gay’ for example. ‘The modern use of the word ‘mong’ means dopey or ignorant, it’s in slang and urban dictionaries.”

 

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