C'mon Lleyton: its time for political correctness

Take note Lleyton Hewitt - the phrase “spac attack” is now on the banned list. And while he’s normally the kind of bloke who would rail against political correctness, it’s National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce who agreed to put it there.

Joyce will tonight apologise on television for saying Kevin Rudd had thrown a “spac attack,” after the Spastic Centre called on our political leaders to stop using the word “spastic” as a term of abuse.

“I would like to blame ‘Kylie Mole’ from the 1980’s Comedy Company but I should have understood the derivation of this word,” he told The Punch yesterday afternoon. “I generally can not stand political correctness but this definitely deserves an exception.”

The Spastic Centre’s press release said the word “spastic” was a medical term but “has now become an expression used by people as a term of abuse.”

“Therefore, the use of the word, or any derivative of it, to describe a person is offensive and unacceptable, unless used medically or as part of an organisation’s name… We encourage our community leaders to use their position to help people with a disability, rather than perpetuate derogatory and unacceptable terms.”

No more abuse relating to disabilities

Senator Joyce said in spite of his ignorance of the inference from the phrase spac attack: “the most vulnerable and needy are those with severe handicaps and the most noble are those who spend their life looking after them. Neither of these groups deserve to be offended and I absolutely apologise if I have done so and have filmed an apology that will be screened on Ten News this evening.”

Hewitt is still living down his 2001 on-court outburst, when he said to an umpire: “Mate, you are a spastic.”, but it’s always been a particularly Australian way to insult someone. Elsewhere tolerance for it is much lower.

In March US President Barack Obama had to do days of damage control after this:

It’s hard to imagine things going that far here.


Most commented


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    • Shelley says:

      04:39pm | 02/06/09

      If we had a PM that acted with the dignity his office deserves he wouldn’t find himself open to such labeling.

      You earn respect.

      Obviously our PM still has a hell of a long way to go.

    • Anthony says:

      04:50pm | 02/06/09

      Looks like we’ll get more of an apology from Barnaby for offending the PC crowd than we got from Kevin for his splenetic attack (SPACK).

    • Shaun says:

      04:57pm | 02/06/09

      Oh FFS dry your eyes people. The phrase spac attack was around long before Kylie Mole and was never used to offend those who have spastic disorders.
      Barnaby certainly didn’t mean to offend anybody by it I am sure. Such a sorry state when colloquial Australianisms are no longer allowed to be uttered. Must we “like you know say like stuff thats like you know American all the time yeah”

    • Peter says:

      05:29pm | 02/06/09

      Put yourself in the shoes of a person who is what is commonly discribed as “spastic”.

      It’s an awful term and a person with such a grand vocabulary - as he shows from time-to-time in the Senate - should aim higher.

    • Julie Coker-Godson says:

      05:56pm | 02/06/09

      I think we are becoming a little bit too precious about what are well known to be slang terms.  I think political correctness should be banned.

    • Dallas says:

      05:59pm | 02/06/09

      Where’s Steady Eddie when we need him?

    • Trevor says:

      06:03pm | 02/06/09

      What a load of rubbish this is come on people it’s a harmless description of someone carrying on like a idiot over nothing. Leave it go and get on with the seriousness of government

    • John Bergin says:

      07:13pm | 02/06/09

      Joyce did the right thing in apologising, just as Barack Obama apologised for his quip regarding the Special Olympics.

    • marko says:

      08:14pm | 02/06/09

      Honestly, politicians keep blaming others no matter what. Could they take the blame for once. They might actually get some undeserved respect out of it.

    • Jo says:

      09:41pm | 02/06/09

      When we discard our uniquely Australian sayings, then we discard our identity. Why do we keep purifying and refining everything we say? What ever happened to strine? It was colourful, eloquent and uniquely Australian. ‘Spac attack’ is a term that has been used to describe a fit of rage, a tantrum. If it is used to define someone with a physical disability, then it is truly abhorent. The term is only an ugly one if misused.

    • steve says:

      07:28pm | 03/06/09

      No this isn’t a uniquely Australian saying - it is used in all English speaking countries. It is highly immature and childish and just as bad as racism.

      Oh we have a Senator that uses Kylie Mole as his role model. He goes, he goes, he goes, he goes….. I wish he would just go.


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