Ricky Gervais has defended his repeated use of the word ‘mong’ on Twitter, hitting out at critics.
The Office star has provoked controversy since joining the microblogging site, but the latest storm as erupted over his use of the word, a slang term for Down’s Syndrome sufferers, to raise a laugh. Other comedians, have called him out for using offensive language. But Gervais has now claimed that the meaning of the word has changed.
Just to clarify for uptight people stuck in the past. The word mong means Down’s Syndrome about as much as the word gay means happy. I never use the word mong to mean anything to do with Down’s Syndrome.
But comedian Richard Herring gave Gervais a dressing down on his blog at RichardHerring.com, writing: “Ricky Gervais is new to Twitter and seems to have spent the first couple of weeks mainly posting pictures of himself pulling the faces that school children pull to parody the disabled and calling people ‘mongs’.”
He continued: “I think many comics are guilty of using [the word] as convenient and humourless punchlines. I don’t think any of them would do the same with the word n****r and p**i but they’re happy to use the word ‘mong’ or ‘retard’ as a means of getting a laugh. And audiences will laugh at those words too and rarely even complain about them.
“If the words are upsetting some people and perpetrating a stereotype, isn’t it more noble and thoughtful to just admit you might have made a mistake and stop?”
Nevertheless, Gervais has remained defiant, later posting: “Dear fans. Don’t give the haters any attention. Those people aren’t really offended by what I say – they are offended by my success.”