Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Political icing

The video above is from Sean Avery, a hockey star with the New York Rangers, endorsing marriage equality. While many hockey fans don’t like him, or maybe just his antics on the ice, I read countless mainstream sports news sites, as well as blogs, where it was clear Avery had gone up in their estimation, and some people liked him a little bit more.

Well, not everyone, of course.

Todd Reynolds Tweeted for the official account of Uptown Sports, a Canadian sports management agency representing many pro ice hockey players. Said Todd: “Very sad to read Sean Avery's misguided support of same-gender ‘marriage’. Legal or not, it will always be wrong.” Pretty blunt, and he must’ve had some second thoughts because he then Tweeted, “To clarify. This is not hatred or bigotry towards gays. It is not intolerance in any way shape or form. I believe we are all equal...” Really, Todd? All equal except when it comes to legal equality, huh?

Todd’s final Tweet: “But I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. This is my personal viewpoint. I Do not hate anyone.”

The first thing that has to be said is, what the hell was he thinking?! His opinions on marriage equality have nothing to do with hockey, per se, but—more importantly for the company—could potentially call their clients into disrepute, especially if Todd goes on to say something really stupid about this (well, more stupid, obviously).

When told what Todd had said, his dad, Don Reynolds (the founder of the company), said:
“It’s sad. I mean, my personal position is that I do not support gay marriage, and I think it’s wrong, as well. It’s not politically correct to, I guess, give your opinion about a thing like that. It’s politically correct on the other side, for people to say, ‘sure, I support gay marriage.’ But the majority, I think, of Canadians would say that they don’t agree with gay marriage—that man and woman were created to be married, not man and man or man and horse, you know?”
At about this point, by head hit the desk. Really?! Did he REALLY drag out that same old bullshit about marrying animals? Is Don Reynolds Rick Santorum in ice hockey drag?

Todd then jumped back into the fray, playing the victim card, as the opponents of marriage equality always do when they get pushback:

“There’s certainly a voice for the other side on this particular issue. I was merely responding to be the other voice. I believe in standing up for what you believe in. I’m passionate about what I believe in. And I believe in morality and I believe in right and wrong. I know many people with different viewpoints for what is right and wrong. But I’m a little disappointed in some of the responses.

“If you oppose a viewpoint, you’re immediately targeted by some people as a hater, a bigot, intolerant, homophobic and many other terms. That’s obviously not the case for people who know me. … I don’t hate anyone. And I’m certainly not a bigot. But I believe in marriage between one man and one woman. It’s a social debate that’s raged on for quite some time. In Canada and the U.S. it’s a hot-button topic right now. I guess maybe it was how I was raised. I believe in voicing your opinion and not being part of the silent majority.”
David Badash rips Todd a new one over at The New Civil Rights Movement, but there’s one thing that David didn’t refute, something I think says a lot. Todd said, “…I believe in morality and I believe in right and wrong. I know many people with different viewpoints for what is right and wrong…”

In order to believe that whether gay people should have the right to civil marriage is a moral issue, that such a thing is a matter of “right and wrong”, he’s by extension saying that homosexuality itself is wrong and immoral, not just marriage. That’s called prejudice, not just a viewpoint.

I can see why people are calling him homophobic and bigoted—you attack people because of who they are and also say they’re not entitled to be full citizens, and yeah, those people are going to assume you’re a bigoted hatemonger. But is he?

Since I don’t know him, I take him at his word that he doesn’t hate anyone. But that doesn’t mean he’s not prejudiced because obviously he is: He thinks that marriage equality “will always be wrong” and that homosexuality is about “morality” and “right and wrong”. Such opinions aren’t based on reason and lead to “dislike, hostility, or unjust behaviour”, all of which makes it prejudice by definition—literally.

He’s entitled to his opinions, not matter how boneheaded they may be. He’s also entitled to spread those opinions, even through Twitter, stupid though that was. But he has no right to expect people not to respond when he attacks them and their right to live a full, free and equal life. If he has the right to hold and spread his opinions, then others have a right to respond. If he brands people as “immoral”, then they have the right to call him a homophobic bigot (his dad, on the other hand, is just a moron).

At least Todd didn’t moan about people “victimising” him for his religious beliefs—yet.

No comments: