This story about footballers taking advantage of an intoxicated female has recently been doing the rounds in local press.
As is so often the case, the accused have attempted to excuse themselves by passing off the activities as 'banter'.
You can tell a racist not to say 'nigger' but they'll still be racist.
You can ask a homophobe to refrain from using 'faggot' as a descriptor, yet they'll still be homophobic.
It is my belief that if the word 'banter' is eradicated, as one of those ever-whimsical Waterstone Twitter accounts fantasises about...
...the pondlife percentage will simply pick up another word to replace it.
Yes, those who attempt to absolve themselves by bringing out the Get Out of Jail Free card with 'BANTER' emblazoned on it are hateful imbeciles, but do you really think banning a word is going to alter their behaviour? No, they'll just look for another word instead. "Oi mate, we woz just messin'. We woz just yankin' yer chain. We're only joshing ya!"
For the record, I LIKE banter. I enjoy the 'banter' in my workplace, I enjoy 'banter' with mates - we know when we've crossed a line and actually hurt feelings because we're mates, and adults. I enjoyed the banter between the Snooker commentators during a recent visit to Alexandra Palace to watch the Masters. I appreciated the banter between Courtney Love and the audience when her hair extension fell out when I went to see Hole.
Don't ban banter. Ban idiots instead.
Expressing your wish to ban a word may have respectable intentions behind it, and I in turn respect that. Although I take it as a given anyone I associate with thinks the same about arseholes like those in the above-mentioned news story as I do. I would jolly well hope my friends and acquaintances share the same opinion, as that's what I automatically expect of decent functional human beings. You do not have to constantly reiterate it. "RAPE IS BAD, MMMKAY" - yes, okay.
We should be working harder, perhaps through stronger penalisations, to drum it into the thick skulls of moronic numpties that good citizens do not take kindly to certain forms of behaviour, rather than assuming changing a word will help.
Stan Carey says it well in his piece 'The Problem with Banning Words':
The idea of banning words and phrases crops up repeatedly. While certainly it’s worthwhile to draw attention to clichés, vogue words and otherwise potentially troublesome expressions, I don’t think banning them is a sensible solution. At the very least, it inculcates a proscriptive and censorial attitude, which is unconstructive. And what happens when a word you need is a word you’ve banned?
The Huffington Post highlighted the proposal of The New York City Department of Education to ban the word 'dinosaur', as it may offend those that do not believe in the theory of evolution.
By all means point out (generally once is enough) that a word may be interpreted as offensive, but don't talk about banning it. That's not the way to evolve.