As a word that has been used to excuse all manner of hideous comments, it's time grown-ups stopped hiding behind 'banter', says.
MAGINE, if you will, making comments about your co-workers.
IAh, well, we all do it, don't we? It's part of letting off steam at the end of the day.
But what if your comments were not because of their ability to do their job or their professional conduct, but because of their race, gender or sexual proclivities? It seems unlikely that educated people would be so crass, but don't worry if you get caught spouting slurs about colleagues, or anyone else for that matter - you can use the universal get out of jail free card: it was just banter.
The word, or some variation on it such as bants or even the egregious bantz, appear to be a free pass to say whatever you like and get away with it.
While the text messages alleged to have been sent by Malky Mackay are under investigation, it's unwise to rush to judgement, but there was a worrying attempt to excuse this sort of behaviour by the League Managers' Association.
In a statement, it originally said text messages sent by Mackay were "disrespectful of other cultures," continuing, "These were two text messages sent in private at a time Malky felt under great pressure and when he was letting off steam to a friend during some friendly text message banter."
They have since apologised for the statement which has been "perceived to trivialise" the offensive content of the alleged messages.
No kidding. Since when have we sought to excuse disgusting language on the grounds that it was all a bit of fun? The first flashes of 'banter' being used to describe anti-social chatter are unclear.
Certainly it's the sort of sinister posturing that one might have expected of laddism and the whole Loaded magazine ethos with shot into the stratosphere in the 1990s, a flurry of girls in football strips, toilet humour and Liam Gallagher clones - but the word, originally from the 17th century, was not yet used in that way back then.
Originally defined as the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks, for the uninitiated banter in modern parlance is generally making offensive observations which are quite beyond the pale and then retreating behind a shield of 'laughs'.
Calls of, 'you've got no sense of humour', 'you don't get it' are often lobbed by banter defenders, but the malevolent world of this treacherous term cannot be understated.
In 2011, following Andy Gray and Richard Keys' offensive remarks about a female assistant referee, many dismissed their private discussion caught on microphone as 'banter'. Indeed, in a video released earlier this year, the pair were at it again, aiming sexist comments at the Sky Sports reporter Clare Tomlinson.
Gray was nonplussed by the furore, adding that it was a "private bit of banter".
Banter has become the equivalent of the hazard lights rule which many ignorant drivers believe allow them parking privileges wherever they like.
Say what you like and if someone doesn't like it, it was only banter - the offence was unintended so if you take it, that's your fault.
It puts the onus on those who are offended, saying it is they who have the issue.
The idea that it's an excuse for offensive language is poisonous, and it seems particularly disgusting that it's in an industry which is well aware of the weight incumbent upon it to redress the equality balance.
Any Premier League match attendee will have been used to seeing Kick It Out posters demanding the end of racism in football since the 1990s, but the attitudes of some of those working within that world appear to make a mockery of the hard work of others.
Recent events like Liverpool's then striker Luis Suarez - he of the biting fame - racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra in 2011 have been a particularly dark time for the Premier League, but how do we expect players to learn right from wrong when off the pitch there's a culture that perpetuates these beliefs? Even Premier League chief Richard Scudamore made a bants gaff of his own in May, albeit not the word he used in explanation.
In the discovery of emails which included sexist jokes about the 'irrationality of women' and forwards of 'jokes' referring to a man who 'banged skinny big-t*tted broads', Scudamore's defence was that, "these were private emails exchanged between colleagues and friends of many years".
So that's all alright then. Social media too is awash with accounts seeking to spread banter, from accounts like 'Lads Bants' and 'Football Banter' on Twitter to Facebook's wide-ranging coverage - 'rugby banter', 'farming banter', 'tinder banter'.
I don't believe we can police everyone, or perhaps that censorship of the online world is at all possible.
But what's been passed off as banter in the case of these alleged texts is, in fact, bigotry, and it's now been thrust into the light.
It is idiocy and madness, and has no place in our society, much less on the minds of some of the highestpaid sports managing professionals in the world.
It's time we took steps to quell the rising tide of banter, lest it drown us all in its insidious sludge.