By Jenni Frazer
June 15, 2010
The former TalkSport presenter, Jon Gaunt, is presenting a remarkable defence in his battle to get his job back after he was fired for calling a councillor a Nazi on air.
His lawyers told the High Court that the word "Nazi" is "now a recognised slang word rather than an historical insult. "There is now a recognised slang of the word Nazi [as] one who imposes their views on others," Gavin Millar told the court.
Well, well. Compare and contrast with Fidel Castro, who had no compunction in using Nazi terminology to attack Israel this week. The former Cuban president said that "the “Fuhrer's swastika is today Israel's banner” and likened the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians with the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust.
He said: "The hatred felt by the state of Israel against the Palestinians is such that they would not hesitate to send the one and a half million men, women and children of that country to the crematoria where millions of Jews of all ages were exterminated by the Nazis.”
I'm not for one moment putting Jon Gaunt in the same basket as Fidel. But it seems to me that both examples are a glaring misuse of language. Fidel most certainly was aware of the power of what he was saying and its effect on the listener; he meant the language to be abusive and hurtful. Gaunt, on the other hand — whose case is still continuing — appears to be suggesting that he was saying nothing more than the equivalent of calling the councillor a fat idiot.
Either way, it appears that words, like flint, still carry extraordinary impact to wound. The lesson, surely, is not to underestimate the chilling legacy of "Nazi", even 70 years on.