Margaret Court, former tennis player and now reverend of a church in Western Australia, made the news again recently by returning to publicly remind everyone of her personal beef against marriage equality.
Marriage equality, she argues, is against the bible and so that should be the end of the story. As a result, she publicly stated her intention to boycott Qantas while it continues to support marriage equality. (Interestingly this may make flight options difficult for her given other Australian airlines have also supported marriage equality.)
Margaret of course is now claiming the gay community is “bullying” her over calls to rename Margaret Court Arena to something else. (Personally I’m a fan of “Rainbow Arena”.)
Margaret said “We’re getting persecuted, we’re getting bullied because we do have free speech also”. (The Age.)
Perhaps Margaret is confusing the notion of Freedom of Speech (technically not enshrined in the Australian constitution anyway) with a desire of Freedom of Preach – to stand on a soapbox and demand people listen to what she has to say, with no right of reply.
Technically, Margaret does in fact have that right – as the reverend of a church she can, in fact, stand in front of her congregation and preach to them about everything that’s wrong about marriage equality.
But out in the public forum that becomes ‘freedom of speech’, and what Margaret fails to grasp as she courts with her soapbox mentality, is that while she’s entitled to say whatever she wants about marriage equality, that does not entitle her to say it without consequences. That is: people who feel contrary to her views are in fact, allowed to express their opinion, and are, in fact, allowed to suggest that an arena named in her honour is being besmirched by her current behaviour, and could do with a better name.
It’s ironic that someone who is insisting on her right to free speech is so unable to understand that right belongs to everyone, and doesn’t guarantee an unfettered soapbox to stand on.
Perhaps it’s even more ironic that Margaret uses the bible to defend her antiquated views on what marriage should look like (conveniently ignoring all the other biblical references to what makes up a marriage), and in fact, acts as a reverend for a church, when 1 Timothy 2:12 so vehemently says:
“I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”
Who knew that in addition to being a tennis star, Margaret was also a highly talented cherry picker?
In the meantime, while Margaret courts with a Freedom of Preach, we’ll keep reminding her that freedom of speech does not mean what she thinks it mean. Like marriage.