There's a storm brewing in the Southern Hemisphere, but don't expect any good swell. This is a maelstrom of controversy around an article published in Australia's Stab Magazine, where writer Charlie Smith quotes the current world champ Mick Fanning as calling him a "f---ing Jew."
According to an article yesterday by Caroline Marcus in the Syndey Morning Herald, Australians are very unhappy with not only Fanning, but Stab.
Fanning is not denying that those were his words. He, however, claims they were taken out of context.
This is an excerpt from the article:
The article goes on to state that the Stab piece could be unlawful by Australia's Anti-Discrimination Act and it sheds light on the fact that the relationship between Fanning and Stab that was uneasy before Smith and Fanning spoke on December 12th of 2009. While Stab has every right (and some might say, an obligation) to report on a world champion using such language, it should be noted that the magazine has a history of pushing ethnic and racial buttons in print and online. In fact, they're known for circumnavigating the trappings of the surf industry and promoting its content as edgier than most surf media. In February, Stab writer Jed Smith published an apology letter for a feature he'd written on the Jamaican surfer, Icah Wilmot. He used a voice of ironic racism to discuss the rise of a black surfer in the largely white surfing world within the broader historic scope of people of color breaking into established sports hierarchies. Following the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina, Stab printed on a blurb on the cover about Matt George going to New Orleans to save the "wretched, drowning negro." And as the Sydney Morning Herald points out, Charlie Smith published a "Fascist issue,' as guest editor of Stab last year. As of now, Fanning has not made any other public statements. He surfs the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, which starts March 30th.
Fanning, who is competing at Margaret River in Western Australia for the 2010 Drug Aware Pro which ends today, said he regretted his conversation with Smith and apologised ''unreservedly'' to anyone who may have taken offence. But he blamed the magazine for taking his words out of context, saying they were intended to be ''ironic''. ''I consider the article to be offensive and arguably designed to cause hurt and distress,'' he told The Sun-Herald in a statement. ''Prior to the exchange with the reporter, I had refused to speak with him because I understood he worked for Stab magazine and that it had previously published articles which I believed were racist and anti-Semitic. I strongly object to views, statements and comments of that nature." ''I acknowledge that my decision to use words that were inappropriate -- albeit in an attempt to be ironic, knowing they were of the type favoured by the magazine -- was misjudged and wrong. I don't have or condone any form of racist or, more particularly, anti-Semitic view.''