D’Arcy a dickhead, but this time he did nothing wrong
Nick D'Arcy is caught up in another controversy, though this time he did nothing wrong (AAP Image/Ben Macmahon)
Hey Nick D’Arcy, I just want to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry you’re a dickhead. And I’m sorry the guys who run your Olympic team are dickheads too.
If you’re surprised to read that first description, then hold the phone.
Yes, swimmer Nick D’Arcy is one of the most controversial Olympians in history – remember this is the guy who smashed in former teammate Simon Cowley’s face in a one-way altercation, then dodged the $370,000 damages bill by pleading bankruptcy.
Nonetheless, in the manner of Chris Brown at the Grammys, he had been granted absolution by the relevant authorities, and permission to enjoy the spotlight at his calling’s biggest stage.
Having put him on the team for London, the Australian Olympic Committee didn’t want any more bad publicity from a guy with a history of drunken violence. Then a photo popped up of him with an as-yet facially intact teammate, posing with weapons in a gun shop after a United States swim meet.
Kenrick Monk, aside from potentially being confused with a zany television detective, only provides the supporting cast for this story. His role will be remembered with as much passion and clarity as that of Cary Elwes in Titanic.
The important thing was that the AOC had expected D’Arcy to keep his head down, and he didn’t. They cracked it.
He and Monk were told that they can swim in London, but will be sent home immediately after their events. And this is where the AOC decision-makers start to look like fools too. In fact, it’s hard to know who comes off worse.
Certainly, posing with heavy duty assault hardware may not be the kind of clean-cut, Uncle-Toby image that the Olympic team wants to cultivate. But if every Olympian is supposed to be sporting a Kieren Perkins shit-eating grin, then someone should have shot Jumping Jai Taurima in the back of the head.
The fact that there was some sort of furore about the photograph of D’Arcy is yet another example of media outlets creating news rather than reporting it.
So D’Arcy walked into a shop full of guns, where the owner invited him and his mate to have a go on a firing range. At some point, they struck a cheesy pose with some of the weapons in question.
I’d cordially like to pose the question: so what?
Certainly, Australia isn’t particularly big on firearms. John Howard’s determined gun reform following the Port Arthur massacre had its social effect, and the toting of ballistic weaponry hasn’t had much social cachet since. Not that we ever had the over-inflated ‘right to bear arms’ posturing of the Yanks.
But while guns are controlled, they’re not illegal here. And the photo in question wasn’t even taken here, but in the United States.
In a country that utterly lost its rag over half a second of accidental Janet Jackson nipple, you can purchase assault rifles at K-Mart. In the comparative graph of guns versus boobs, I’m pretty sure I know which has caused more fatalities. Regardless, America is absurd and heavy weapons are an everyday item.
So can visitors really be pilloried for wandering into a shop and picking them up? Would it have been any different if they were wielding registered weapons at a gun club in Australia? Or is it just a cover-all attitude that guns are bad, m’kay?
Because the follow-up question is: why the hell is anyone surprised?
Guns may well be scarce in day to day Australian life, but we are immersed in a culture that glorifies and idealises gun violence. American films and TV shows dominate our viewing. Our own productions take their lead. Track down commercial films that don’t include firearms, and I guarantee you’ll be clocking ratios of one to plenty.
My generation has grown up on Arnie swinging the lever-action on his Harley, on Tybalt diving sideways while firing one-handed, on Bruce Willis reaching for the pistol taped to his back.
So when a couple of young guys, who generally have no access to impressive firearms, suddenly get their hands on a couple of Remington pump-action shotguns, it’s basically inevitable that the glamour of these unattainable, cinematic items will impress the holders.
They strike a pose. They get a photo. And so many thousands of others would have done the same.
That the AOC should jump on them, not for doing anything illegal, and not for doing anything immoral, but for doing something that someone might get antsy about, is pitiful.
Yes, athletes are influential, and it’s bad for kids to see them with guns. So take the photo down. Tell them not to be stupid with what they post. End of story.
Also pitiful is the middling sanction that was handed down. Not kicked off the team, still allowed to compete, but sent home immediately after their events. It makes the AOC look like a clucking collection of schoolteachers, sending the naughty kids to bed without pudding.
Posing with guns is a nothing offence. The offence that D’Arcy committed was staving in a man’s face, then dodging responsibility despite somehow finding the money for all his legal challenges.
If the Olympic team wanted to punish him for that, they should have done so. If they were prepared to let it slide, then they should consider it slid.
The truth, though, is that D’Arcy is under close monitoring because of that earlier offence. But exaggerating the importance of small indiscretions on that basis is pointless.
Yes, Nick D’Arcy is a dickhead. But you can’t select a dickhead and then get surprised when he acts like one.
Geoff Lemon is a writer and radio broadcaster. He joined The Roar as an expert columnist in 2010, writes the satirical blog Heathen Scripture, and tweets from @GeoffLemonSport.