Saturday, July 21, 2012

Australia: Blackman blacklisted by horse name censors

A painting by Charles Blackman above

One of Australia's top trainers has been ordered to change the name of one of his young racehorses.  Hall of Fame trainer David Hayes has been told two-year-old filly Blackman cannot keep her original name.

The filly, whose father is Excellent Art, was named after renowned Australian artist Charles Blackman.

But the change was ordered by Racing Information Services Australia (RISA), which controls the registration and naming of racehorses, after it received one complaint.

"Certainly the name itself is a surname and certainly respected the connection back to the artist Charles Blackman after which it was named," RISA spokesman Myles Foreman said.

"But (RISA) also found that where the name is used without the known context back to a surname, it could be construed as being offensive which is where ultimately the complaint started.

"Through a consultative process what we've landed at is retaining the original part of the name but placed Lady in front of it so that it is now known as Lady Blackman."

Mr Foreman said requests to change inappropriate names were rare.

"I think probably on average a name would be changed where a complaint has been raised about once a year, and we name around 13,000 names a year."

Hayes was not available for comment but he has been quoted as saying "it's the most ridiculous thing, the biggest reaction I've ever seen".

His view is shared by Sydney trainer David Payne.  "I think it's crazy," he said.  "What happens if you call a horse Whiteman? Would you have to change the name as well? It's just ridiculous."

Payne said he was forced to change the name of a horse in his native South Africa.  "One of my clients called it Islam and we had to change the name, but I think that's more serious than Blackman."

Peter Jurkovsky from the Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association of Victoria says the case highlights the perils of naming. "In the context of how the horse was named in particular, I think that is the most disappointing aspect," he said.

"The horse is by a stallion called Excellent Art and it was named after a famous painter and therefore in the context it is Blackman, not black man.

"It was one complaint. We find that a little bit incongruous. "But having had a look at the rules again, they are fairly clear that the registerer can do whatever they please and whatever they deem necessary under the rules."



Anonymous said...

So the rules say we can do whatever we want so there is no need to spell them out in the "rules?"

Sounds like they took a page for the US government play book!

Bird of Paradise said...

The PC nonsense is getting out of control time to tell them ENOUGH IS ENOUGH we will no longer allow some PC idiots dominate our lives

Anonymous said...

Change it to:

He who's name can not be spoken

Anonymous said...

I guess it couldn't be called "Black Beauty" either, despite the classic novel about an actual horse by that name. PC trumps good literature.

Anonymous said...

"Political correctness is a far greater threat to our freedom and liberty than is terrorism..."

Anonymous said...

A quick Google search shows that the word "blackman" is, in fact,

"An Old English name meaning "dark-haired" or "dark-complexioned".

So taken out of context, I could see the issue.

If they really want to honor the painter, why not just rename the horse to "Charles Blackman"? Or would result in some trademark infringement?

Malcolm Smith said...

Mind you, one owner managed to get his horse named "Hoof Hearted". (Say it quickly, as an announcer would.)

Anonymous said...

if i had a horse i would name it raghead or assraiser or pigislam.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps change the name to something neutral. Watermelon? I mean everybody likes watermelon, right?
Oh, never mind.