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SEN boss Craig Hutchison apologises after Garry Lyon and Tim Watson fail to denounce antisemitic comment about Harry Sheezel

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The SEN Breakfast segment, hosted by AFL legends Garry Lyon and Tim Watson, took place on the 2nd of December and featured a discussion with regular caller ‘John from Epping’.

The demeaning comments came after the North Melbourne fan was asked about his side’s performance in the AFL Draft by Lyon.

In response, John singled out 18-year-old star Harry Sheezel, who became the first Jewish person to be drafted to the AFL since 1999 as he was taken as the third overall pick by the Kangaroos.

“We got this Jewish player (in the draft),” John said.

“You know, the Jewish, they are loaded with money, so maybe, we don’t need to go to Tasmania anymore, because probably if we needed some money his parents might pay for it.”

Lyon then attempted to steer the conversation away from Sheezel’s religion by replying: “I wouldn’t worry about that, I’d just worry about the fact that he’s a very, very good player, they reckon he plays a bit like Stevie Johnson, what about that?”

The discussion then moved on, however neither Lyon nor Watson called out or denounced the harmful stereotype of Jewish people.

To make matters worse, a podcast featuring the segment was then uploaded to SEN’s website, and wasn’t taken down until Tuesday afternoon.

Now, after the actions of the hosts and SEN were criticised by Dr Dvir Abramovich, the chairman of The Anti-Defamation Commission, Hutchison has apologised over the incident while acknowledging the comment ‘could have’ been dealt with on-air.

“I would like to extend a personal apology on behalf of SEN for any inadvertent offence caused regarding the segment on SEN Breakfast from our regular talkback caller, John from Epping,” Hutchinson wrote to Dr Abramovich, in a statement provided to news.com.au.

“As mentioned, hosts Garry and Tim recognised the inappropriate nature of the comment and made a judgement call that it was best handled and discussed with John off air.

“This conversation with the caller took place prior to the program ending, such was their desire to address it. They’ve spoken to him in fact several times since.

“We are pleased with their intent to address it directly with the caller, but we do acknowledge that it could have also been addressed on air.

“Garry and Tim have always stood for an inclusive show for everyone. As a business, we pride ourselves on our standards and respect for all communities and acknowledge our role in the sports industry as leaders in this space.

“We appreciate you taking the time to discuss the matter today and once again apologise for the unintended offence this has caused, and your leadership in addressing this with us and with me directly.”

Dr Abramovich has since accepted Hutchinson’s apology, telling news.com.au that the SEN hosts now have a better understanding of the importance of calling out harmful stereotypes.

“I accept the apology by Craig Hutchison on behalf of the radio station and Garry Lyon and Tim Watson which is sincere and heartfelt, as well as his acknowledgement that the hosts should have repudiated the caller’s bigoted slur immediately on air,” Dr Abramovich told news.com.au.

“During our conversation, Mr Hutchison heard my concerns and immediately expressed his feelings of remorse, and I believe him when he says that Lyon and Watson did not have any intent to cause hurt or to give any legitimacy to antisemitism.

“It is my view that the SEN hosts now better understand why their failure to challenge the hateful expression and to speak out when they heard that reprehensible stereotypes about Jews was wrong.

“Public figures have a duty, when they hear anyone denigrated because of their faith, to model for young people that words and actions do count.

“At a time when antisemitism is reaching record levels, we all have a responsibility to push back, at every stage, in every instance, and in every way that we can, against prejudice.

“While we understand that many people were upset with their behaviour, this is an important first step in putting this issue to rest.

“My hope is that Lyon and Watson use the platform that they have and their public voice and following to speak out against intolerance and racism.”

Dr Abramovich had initially been unhappy with SEN’s response to the issue earlier in the week, in which the company provided no apology while outlining steps made by the hosts to rectify the situation.

“Garry heard one reference only and immediately corrected course with the caller and moved to shut the comment down,” an SEN spokesman told news.com.au on Tuesday.

“Garry and Tim spoke to the caller within half an hour of the program ending and addressed the issue with him and told him that sentiment

“Garry and Tim have always stood for an inclusive show for everyone.”

Dr Abramovich described the stereotype of Jewish people as being extremely wealthy as: “One of the most pernicious and enduring antisemitic stereotypes and conspiracies.”

He said it “portrays Jews as unscrupulous and stingy, corrupted by an insatiable greed for hoarding wealth, and depicts the community as relentless in its pursuit of money.”

Meanwhile, Sheezel has had to learn all too quickly how to deal with antisemitic comments in the past few weeks since his AFL prospects became widely publicised.

The young forward was subjected to disgusting antisemitic social media attacks in the hours before he became an AFL player in late November.

He was on the receiving end of a series of slurs after an article about his prospects hit social media the night before the draft.

The comments focused on Jewish stereotypes and made light of the Holocaust.

Sheezel, who has played in the NAB League for premiership team the Sandringham Dragons, kicked 36 goals across the season.

He is the first Jewish player to enter the AFL since Ezra Poyas was drafted by Richmond in 1999.

Story Credit: news.com.au

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