Ricky Gervais laughs off 'joke' row

Comic Ricky Gervais was unrepentant today after drawing criticism for his use of what many have seen as an offensive word used to mock people with disabilities.

Fellow comedians and disability groups have spoken out after Gervais repeatedly used the word "mong" in online messages to fans.



The funnyman has insisted the meaning of the word has changed over time and said critics were simply jealous of his success.



And today he laughed off the storm by posting a message on Twitter saying: "The police just came round and confiscated all my awards - gutted."



Among his posts, he has used phrases like "two mongs don't make a right" and "good monging".



Richard Herring was critical of Gervais for using the word and said a number of other comics were "happy to use 'mong' or 'retard' as a means of getting a laugh".



He added: "If the words are upsetting some people and perpetuating a stereotype, isn't it more noble and thoughtful to just admit you might have made a mistake and stop?"



Charity Mencap called his words "very disappointing" and a spokesman said could be "offensive to people with a disability and their families".



A number of people had also sent messages to show their anger.



But after the row started brewing last week he said the phrase was not used to mock those with disabilities. He said he used it to mean: "A div, a dozy spud headed twonk. I would NEVER use it to mean Down's Syndrome."



And responding to an online poll about whether the word was offensive, he Tweeted: "The humourless PC brigade have been out in force trying to influence the vote with ill informed negative comment."



He added: "Dear fans. Don't give the haters any attention. Those people aren't really offended by the things I say - they are offended by my success."

PA

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