Australian politician apologises for rape and Irish jokes

John Alexander sorry for crude and inappropriate comments he made 20 years ago

John Alexander: ‘More than 20 years ago I told crude and inappropriate jokes … and I apologise unreservedly.’ Photograph:EPA

John Alexander: ‘More than 20 years ago I told crude and inappropriate jokes … and I apologise unreservedly.’ Photograph:EPA


Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull has described a joke involving rape made by John Alexander as “utterly unacceptable” after the Liberals’ Bennelong candidate apologised on Thursday for comments made 20 years ago.

In a video filmed in 1995 and posted to YouTube in 2011, Mr Alexander tells a joke about “a black guy in Chicago” who had “witnessed a rape and he’s been called into the court”.

In the scene painted by Mr Alexander the courtroom witness is chastised for coarse language for saying he saw a guy “f**king that sheila”, and culminates in him singing the punchline.

Earlier, Mr Alexander responded to an interjection referencing OJ Simpson by saying “no, no, no, this is not murdering wives and stuff, that’s all right”.

At the time, OJ Simpson faced two counts of murder over the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Simpson was found not guilty on both charges.

In the three-minute video Mr Alexander also adopts an Irish accent for his first joke about a man confessing to a Catholic priest that he had sex with a parishioner, which elicits names of three women who the priest suggests are sexually available and one of whom he calls a “tramp”.

Mr Alexander, who has been the MP for Bennelong since 2010, resigned earlier in November for having dual citizenship and faces a tough by-election on December 16th against the former Labor premier Kristina Keneally.

In a statement to Buzzfeed, which first reported the story, Mr Alexander said: “More than 20 years ago I told crude and inappropriate jokes, which were completely unacceptable and I apologise unreservedly.

“There is no place for jokes about violence against women. Again, I apologise unreservedly.”

Australian Labor Party leader Bill Shorten said the comments were “crass, stupid and wrong”.

While acknowledging Mr Alexander had apologised, he said this was “22 years late”, adding: “I think it’s only come out because we’ve got a by-election”.

At a press conference on Thursday, Mr Turnbull said that he agreed with Mr Alexander’s decision to unreservedly apologise.

“I want to underline … my agreement with him. Statements like that, whether they’re intended as jokes or not, are completely and utterly unacceptable,” he said. “There is no place for joking about violence against women.

“Not all disrespect of women ends up in violence against women but that’s where all violence against women begins, so all of us need to reflect on that.”

Mr Turnbull said that it was “a measure of the man [Alexander] and of the dignity of the man” that he had acknowledged the remarks were unacceptable and unreservedly apologised. - Guardian