Martina Navratilova, the 18-time tennis Grand Slam champion, wrote an “open letter” to the Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park (Do arenas read letters? I did not know that!) as the Australian Open, always played there, looms in January. Navratilova, a feminist and gay rights activists, argued for removing Court’s name from the venue, despite her undeniable status as a ground-breaking female tennis star, because of Court’s recent statements hostile to gay marriage, lesbians, and the transgendered.
In the letter, which is as diplomatic and mild as such a letter could possibly be (and Martina has always been an excellent writer), Navratilova says that her position is not based on Court’s “headline-grabbing comments in 1990 when she said I was a bad role model because I was a lesbian.” However, Navratilova focused on Court’s “statements she made in the ’70s about apartheid in South Africa,” in which she opined that ” South Africa dealt with the “situation” (meaning people of colour) much better than anywhere else in the world, particularly the US,” and, more recently, her anti-gay, anti-trans positions. The 74-year-old Court had said she would boycott Qantas airline “where possible” in response to its support of same-sex marriage, saying, “I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible.” This week, interviewed on a Christian radio station, Court said “tennis is full of lesbians” and that older players lure younger ones into gay sex. Court also said that transgender children are the work of “the devil.”
Concludes Martina’s open letter to the arena:
It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe. Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere….How much blood will be on Margaret’s hands because kids will continue to get beaten for being different? This is not OK. Too many will die by suicide because of this kind of intolerance, this kind of bashing and yes, this kind of bullying. This is not OK.
We celebrate free speech, but that doesn’t mean it is free of consequences – not punishment, but consequences. We should not be celebrating this kind of behaviour, this kind of philosophy. The platform people like Margaret Court use needs to be made smaller, not bigger.
Which is why I think it’s time to change your name.
This is as well-argued a case for one side of the issue as anyone could make.
Here’s the other side: Margaret Court’s name was placed on the arena because she was a great tennis player and a pioneer in her sport, not to honor her political and social views. She still was a great tennis player. That hasn’t changed.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:
Do Margaret Court’s political views and anti-LGTBQ statements create an ethical obligation to remove her name from Margaret Court Arena?
No matter what ethics principles we agree on, you can guarantee that a set of circumstances will be randomly generated in the chaos of human existence that will make them hard to apply. Such is the case here.
I think I know where I stand on this, but rather than state it now, let me lay out some ten other positions and principles from other dilemmas, controversies and posts.
1. Major public figures honored in their time by the public of the time based on the values of that time should not be subject to retroactive withdrawal of the honors based on changing societal values or historical evaluations. This is airbrushing history.
2. Discoveries that a previous honor was based on mistakes or misrepresentations and were not deserved honors at the time they were made can justify retracting the honor.
3. Honors for specific accomplishments should not be subject to retraction for conduct in an entirely different area. Thus Bill Cosby’s well-earned honors for his entertainment career should not be forfeited by his personal misconduct.
4. The debt an institution or enterprise owes to its founders or crucial figures in its founding, advancement, prestige, development and accomplishments are not cancelled by subsequent misconduct or discovered misconduct.
5. An honor for an individual’s specific achievements in one area should not be regarded as endorsement or approval for every aspect of the individual’s life.
6. Those whose names have been associated with institutions, organizations or enterprises have an ethical duty not to abuse that position and honor by embarrassing or bringing controversy to the institutions, organizations or enterprises to their detriment.
7. A religion’s position that marriage is between a man and a woman should be respected and not treated as per se bigotry, but a religious view of marriage does not and cannot govern the qualifications for civil marriages.
8. Withholding recognition and honors from accomplished and important individuals based on non-conforming political, social and religious beliefs is a slippery slope that easily becomes political oppression and the chilling of speech.
9. Institutions, organizations and enterprises have a right as well as an obligation to protect themselves from serious or permanent harm due to their association with individuals whose words or conduct threaten their standing with the public, the community or the culture.
10. No rule, formula or principle works every time (The Ethics Incompleteness Principle)
Source: Raw Story
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