Peter Willett writes a brilliant letter defending his “imbeciles” comments

Danny Willett’s brother wrote a column in a British golf magazine on the eve of the Ryder Cup. It was badly received by the American media. 

The following terms can be difficult to comprehend for many. Sometimes “being offended” is what we all need. “Taking offence” should be an emotion of last resort.

Satire: The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Sarcasm: The use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

Danny and Peter Willett (Source/Daily Star).
Danny and Peter Willett (Source/Daily Star).

 

Here is the letter as it was written in The Daily Telegraph:

 

“My Ryder Cup article has been quoted, hashtagged and dissected. It has featured in headlines, been debated by presenters and has inspired counter articles. Bill Burr read my work on his podcast. Bill Burr! I have Netflix and chilled to his stand-up. It is surreal. As a writer, it’s everything I have ever wanted.

And it felt s—… let me elaborate… really s—.

If a joke needs to be explained, then it’s not a very good one.

It pains me to write this defence, because I think my article was very good. The initial response was overwhelmingly positive. My regular readers, and a few new tweeters, were complimentary.

 

As ever, I tried to interact with as many replies as possible. It’s good to give something back to the little people (this is a joke: I’m feigning arrogance. I’ll never take for granted that people actually spend their own time reading my words).

Then the press stepped in. First the Americans, followed by the British. The Twitter eggs descended. I received threats of violence, mocking memes, and insults to my children – I don’t know why they were targeted; they have very little influence over editorial content (this is a joke: my children have no influence over editorial content).

Now that the dust has settled, there are two points I want to address:

1) My article was ‘ill-timed’

I need to hold my hands up. In hindsight, the timing was atrocious. I wrote the piece over a number of evenings with a big push on the pre-Ryder Cup weekend. Then the unimaginable happened. Regardless of my surname, when I was scribbling amendments in my notebook, between resisting the urge to trip my children as they continually ran up and down the lounge, I never expected for the Ryder Cup captains, ESPN, the Golf Channel, and the British media, to be discussing me.

If I had an inkling as to how to become the focus of millions, my book would not be #216,255 on the Amazon bestsellers list.

The timing was bad, but only because the unimaginable happened.

2) ‘PJ Willett brands ALL Americans imbeciles in crazy rant’

One of the reasons the unimaginable happened is because of reporting like this.

This is just one of the many misleading headlines used to give a bastardised misrepresentation for clickbait peddlers. To anyone who reads my piece in full, with a modicum of intelligence or a desire to report news rather than fabricate it, two things are clear.

Firstly, my ‘rant’ was not a criticism of ALL Americans, but a satirical jab against a very select group of individuals who are wholly deserving of ridicule – those that scream ‘Baba booey’, belt out ‘Mashed Potato’, and bellow ‘Get in the Hole’. These were the only imbeciles to which I was referring.

Secondly, my penultimate paragraph makes explicitly clear how far I had lodged my tongue into my cheek, but the media deliberately missed this section of text, so I’ll include it again:

“During my 33 years as an avid sports watcher, I have never cared more about the result of a single event. I am desperate for a win. Such desperation can lead to puerile outbursts. A more immature mind than mine might resort to petty insults or unflattering generalisations.”

IT WAS A JOKE. Like the ‘Cheeseburger’-screaming simpletons, I also couldn’t control myself during Ryder Cup week. I was highlighting my own immaturity because I used petty insults and unflattering generalisations in my puerile outburst.

The American press were particularly sensationalist in their reporting of the story. In a nation that seems gripped by post-truth Drumpf mania, perhaps I should not have been surprised. But I was shocked at the tone taken by the British press.

And to make matters worse, I was bitterly disappointed that Team Europe then accepted this dishonest narrative, by making the farcical decision to publicly remove me from my position as their head spokesperson in charge of representing all their values (this is a joke: I never actually held this position).

Then the tournament started. Cue the baying mob of imbeciles. It was always nonsensical, often vulgar, and for a number who were actually there, deeply unpleasant.

Messages flooded in talking of my ‘vindication’ as my words were ‘prophetic’ – some even claimed I was entirely to blame for inciting the crowds. People who share the condescending sentiment of this claim have less respect for the cretins than I do. I definitely focussed their ire (sorry Danny), but to suggest that they’re not accountable for their behaviour is just the soft bigotry of low expectations.

The truth is, these hecklers are one of the things I love about the Ryder Cup. Under normal circumstances, from the comfort of my sofa, I would have cheered every ‘cheeseburger,’ giggled at every ‘get in the water,’ and retweeted the video of McIlroy being asked to ‘suck a d—’. It’s fun to witness the desperate, resort to the weird, hoping for recognition. (Don’t start.)

What these ‘fans’ do should be fully acknowledged, and then either celebrated or eradicated. Instead, we cut back to the studio, and their contribution is breezed over with token comments about a ‘great’ or ‘rowdy’ crowd. They spent three days discussing the evils of my column. It caused Monty so much teeth suckage he went full Esther Rantzen (this is a joke: Colin Montgomerie is not Esther Rantzen).

Butch Harmon actually suggested I should lose my job! He didn’t know what job I had, but he thought I should lose it anyway! My first sentence offended him to such an extent that he couldn’t bring himself to read the second, where it states that I am a teacher (this is a joke: I’m insinuating that Butch managed to make himself hysterical without reading my article).

These guys should have spent more time discussing how the unique nature of the Ryder Cup is in part down to a crowd that is not behaving in the ‘golf’ way, and the dilemma the tournament faces if it either ignores or eradicates it.

The Patrick Reed vs Rory McIlroy face-off was amazing, precisely because of the aggression and taunting. Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia actually played better golf, but the spectacle provided by the first two made it more entertaining to watch.

Shouting out during someone’s pre-shot routine, or screaming on their backswing, or dishing out vile abuse to players’ relatives, or demanding fellatio without the appropriate signals that fellatio may in fact be given, is not an accepted element of your average golf tournament.

But at Ryder Cups, certainly in America, we risk ruining the competition if we don’t endure it, or destroying the tournament’s reputation if it continues unchallenged. This is a dilemma far more worthy of discussion than my attempt at a joke – what to do with the classless b——s?

The views I express here are mine alone and do not reflect the views of my employer.”