What do you when you hear full-on, unapologetic racism being shouted across the public bar?
That’s not a rhetorical question – seriously, what do you do?
Because this has happened a few times over the years, but more to the point a couple of times lately, and we really don’t know how to react.
Just so you can gauge whether you think this is us being excessively politically correct or prissy, here’s a sample dialogue, as close to verbatim as we can manage given that we didn’t have tape recorders out:
Speaking of terrorists, I’ve had a couple move in next door to me.
Well, the wrong colour anyway.
Bad, right, by any reasonable standard? And, just to be clear, this wasn’t us eavesdropping on a muttered discussion – this was the King of the Bar and one of his courtiers essentially putting on a performance for the other seven or eight – showing off. This came a few minutes later:
We call him Osama because he looks like a Muslim with that f_____ beard.
I’m not a Muslim!
No, but you could be a f_____ Jew with that nose!
That’s not well-meaning clumsiness in an attempt to have a free and frank discussion about the issues of the day – it’s like something from the 1950s.
Racists exist, and they have to drink somewhere, we suppose, but can they not find something else to talk about for an hour when they’re out? It might also be good to hear someone behind the bar say, as a bare minimum, ‘Alright, change the subject.’ Rather, that is, than joining in, as in this case.
Given that we were strangers in this particular pub, and the approving audience of big blokes, we did nothing but squirm. We suppose we could have stood up and said, with quavering voices, ‘Hey, come on now, that’s not on!’ but, in that moment, it didn’t feel like a good idea. (See Mark and Hali on the difficult reality of ‘calling people out’.)
As it is, slightly stunned and anxious, we just drank up, left, and can’t imagine feeling comfortable going back.
Before anyone suggests it, having failed to register a complaint at the time, we’re not inclined to ‘name and shame’ – it just doesn’t quite feel right, at the moment. But maybe our instincts are wrong.
Seriously, we are asking for advice here: what should we do next time? And what, if anything, have you done in similar situations?