Flat White

Still not cheered by the change from Coon – and now there’s a Scrabble scuffle brewing

15 January 2021

12:26 PM

15 January 2021

12:26 PM

Every parent knows that if you give in to your toddler’s temper tantrums, you will receive as your reward even more temper tantrums. 

So I was not surprised to learn that the Indigenous activist who protested Coon Cheese was racist is now stomping his feet because he wasn’t consulted on the new name.

Stephen Hagan has spent the better part of 20 years complaining that he couldn’t go to the supermarket without being racially abused by the dairy fridge.

And so it came to be that Coon’s owners, Saputo Dairy Australia, eventually acquiesced and this week announced they would change the name from Coon to Cheer.

“Our decision to change the name of Australia’s much-loved cheese reinforces this commitment to build a culture of acceptance, inclusion and respect where everyone feels a sense of belonging,” the company’s chief executive officer said.


But if Saputo was expecting Cheer would elicit cheers from a placated Mr Hagan, they were quickly disappointed.

The perpetually offended academic was only encouraged to engage in another dummy spit, telling journalists: “I would have liked it to be something a bit more inclusive of First Nations people. We weren’t even consulted on names. We would like to have contributed.”

Mr Hagan further complained that the Cheer Cheese packaging was too similar to the now discarded Coon Cheese.

“I wish they’d changed the packaging too. If you look at the packaging quickly, you’d think it was still Coon cheese,” he grumbled.

Had they called it Bush Tucker Cheese and wrapped it in a gum leaf, Mr Hagan would still have found cause for grievance.

Yet he is wasting no time moving on to his next brain haemorrhage – this time over an iconic board game.

Dr Hagan said words derogatory words like “abo”, “coon” and “boong” could be used to score points in Scrabble because game manufacturer Mattel endorsed the Collins dictionary which defines a number of racial slurs.

“If you normalise those words, you’re really normalising bigotry,” he said, as if it should be obvious to everyone that the next issue problem facing Indigenous Australians were senior citizens plotting to score five points with the word “abo” in retirement village Scrabble games across the country.

Why wouldn’t Mr Hagan kick up a stink about this non-problem? He will be duly rewarded with the attention he craves.

But when the nation is finally cleansed of white supremacist Scrabble players, will it be enough to cheer him? I doubt it.

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