At times I think that freedom from speech should be considered a fundamental human right – especially when celebrities pontificate on subjects outside their immediate expertise.
John McEnroe was an inspiring tennis player who has become the best tennis commentator I know. I’m willing to hang on to his every word when he talks tennis because there’s much he can teach me.
That’s where my admiration for him begins and ends. I don’t think a chap who has largely spent his life outside tennis doing drugs, playing pop music and hanging out on the celebrity circuit has earned his right to a public audience when the subject matter goes beyond sliced serves and drop shots.
McEnroe clearly disagrees because he saw fit to deliver himself of a nauseating rant aimed at Margaret Court.
The on-going Australian Open marks the 50 anniversary of Mrs Court’s 1970 season, when she won all four majors in a single year. Considering she’s one of only five players of either sex ever to have done so, that achievement is worthy of a celebration.
McEnroe and other woke tennis players beg to differ. For Mrs Court has offended everything progressive mankind holds dear by lamenting that the women’s tour is “full of lesbians”.
Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs took exception to that observation, and rather aggressively at that. Considering that all four are lesbians themselves, one struggles to understand what their problem is.
Do they think Mrs Court’s observation is inaccurate? If so, that’s like pub crawlers insisting that Britain has no drinking problem. So no, that’s not the nature of their objection.
You see, Mrs Court has openly expressed her opposition to homomarriage and, truth be told, to the prevalence of homosexuality in general, not just in women’s tennis. There she proceeds from a solid starting point.
For, after she stopped playing, Mrs Court became a Pentecostal pastor. Now I regard all such Protestant sects as more heretical and neo-pagan than Christian, but that’s neither here nor there.
What matters is that Mrs Court sees herself as a missionary acting on Jesus’s commandment to spread the word (“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…”). And it so happens that, in spite of being a sectarian, she enunciates the ecumenical Christian position on this issue.
The trouble is that, to the woke majority, any Christian position is ipso facto offensive. When it challenges their cherished ideology, it becomes downright criminal.
Hence McEnroe’s rant, disguised with his chatty, smiley bonhomie. Mrs Court, he shouted, holds revolting homophobic views and therefore her grand slam deserves no celebration.
He then let the cat out of the bag by peculiarly citing Mrs Court’s approval of South African apartheid as proof of her homophobia. The secret he thereby revealed is that, like Greek philosophers, the woke brigade also has its ‘transcendentals’.
If Plato and Aristotle regarded beauty, truth and morality as inseparable ontological properties of man, this lot cast racism, homophobia, misogyny and so on in the same role. Since they are all aspects of the same whole, an affront to one interchangeable virtue is an affront to all.
Thus someone who trembles with fear whenever a homosexual enters a room may just as well be described as a racist, while a chap who screams “There ain’t no black in the Union Jack!” may be tagged a homophobe, misogynist or global warming denier.
To McEnroe, Margaret Smith is a “crazy aunt” who “uses the Bible to say what she wants”, as opposed to the woke-proof practice of shoving a gram of coke up one’s nose and then strumming one’s guitar and screeching gibberish to some stupefyingly monotonous beat.
Mrs Court is a ventriloquist, explained McEnroe, and the Bible is her dummy. If he insists on this metaphor, then surely it ought to be the other way around? I’m confused, even though I’ve never snorted cocaine.
The next day, McEnroe and Navratilova unfurled a banner at the Australian Open, calling for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed. That act of vandalism was too much even for Tennis Australia.
Even though allowing that Mrs Court’s views “do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion”, the federation issued a statement saying that “two high-profile guests” had breached their protocols.
Translated from Australian, McEnroe and Navratilova should mind their own business and shut up. A sound suggestion, that, but the Aussies should dream on: this lot will never shut up.
Navratilova in particular has solid family reasons to pursue this matter ad nauseam: “My wife Julia said you’re complaining about it, but what are you going to do?” Why, mouth off and wave banners, of course. Why?
The unbridgeable gap is very much in evidence. Martina’s ‘wife’ is named Julia; Margaret’s husband is named Barrymore. Both women are too vociferous for my taste, but only one of them is deeply offensive. And it’s not Mrs Court.