It wasn't classy and it wasn't clever.
The actions of Australian Olympic swimmers Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk, posing with weaponry in a United States gun shop, were those of young men happily striking their best ain't-it-cool poses.
It was laddish but it was no big deal.
The juvenile, thoughtless and indefensible offence was the way Australian Olympic officials reacted. They have decided the two swimmers must return home from the Olympics after they have competed and before the great-fun closing ceremony.
For what? Bringing themselves and the Australian team into disrepute. Tosh.
Fun with guns is a bad thing if it's irresponsible or dangerous. This wasn't.
Neither young man was brandishing a firearm inappropriately, or pointing it as if to fire. D'Arcy, holding handguns sideways in the manner of many bad-movie posters, has been reported as having a Dirty Harry sneer. In which case he needs acting lessons. It was hardly menacing.
Monk, even less so. Holding crossed shotguns, he looks like Jethro Clampett.
There is some background to this situation, with the officials likely to have been on caution patrol with D'Arcy. He was thrown off the 2008 Olympic team after he drunkenly king-hit a team-mate, causing terrible injuries. Then, in the gun for $180,000 damages after a civil lawsuit, he filed for bankruptcy, citing debts of $800,000.
Certainly not actions that befit the Olympic ideal. There's a strong case that D'Arcy has been capable of behaving like an oaf, and worse. But on athletic performance he deserves to take his place at the Olympics.
It is unfair and to expect anyone, particularly young people, to be paragons of virtue because they have the talent and character to excel at their sports. We should admire them for what is admirable about them.
Keep in mind that some sporting bad-behavers manage to turn out pretty well once they have grown up a bit.
This discipline carried a whiff of the hypocritical. Is there a single commentator out there who has failed to wonder whether an Aussie shooter appearing on Facebook in Speedos, larking about in water – dangerous stuff that it is, if you disrespect it – would be be similarly penalised?
It even turns out that the national swimming team was in 2007 taken to a rifle range in Canberra as a team bonding exercise. We'll just have to take it on trust that none of them was photographed with goofy, inappropriate smiles.
- The Marlborough Express