We have moved beyond peering through the looking glass. We’ve entered a crazy new world where left is right and wrong is good and the impossible is normal. Sky is grass and the ocean is space. Nothing is what it seems to be, and questioning the new morality is the only heresy.
The only problem with this new world of topsy-turvey is that it’s given a good shake every 6 months or so, and then once again all the epistemological furniture and our moral certainties are thrown into the air. And it’s not the sanest or smartest who catch the debris and reorder the room but the loudest and most militant.
Case in point, the recent Australian Tennis Open. First of all, what an amazing tournament. Second, in yesterday’s SMH Peter FitzSimons threw a volley at Novak Djokovic for touching the umpire’s foot during the final. If Fitz’s issue was simply that Djokovic committed a foot violation and should be fined for it, that’s fine. But you see, Fitz’s fury doesn’t depend on right and wrong, and rules of any kind, but on whether he supports the activity of the person. Remember, it was only a few days earlier when John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova unfurled a political banner on one of the courts in Melbourne Park. It was a protest against Margaret Court, with Navratilova also attempting to grab the umpire’s microphone in order to speak to the crowd and media. In that case, Peter FitzSimons quickly came out in support of the two former tennis players, who not only broke tournament protocols but brought the game into disrepute.
“If your last name is McEnroe or Navratilova and you are on a tennis court, you have no need to “hijack” a tournament. You have earned your spot as your sport’s most respected voices.”
In contrast, days earlier Margaret Court was invited to a special evening during the tournament where she was recognised by Tennis Australia for her famous Grand Slam of 1970. On Court, Margaret Court did not use the event to promote her personal beliefs. She said nothing about her views on sexuality which have been denounced in some parts of the community.
The upside roundabout of modern Western thinking isn’t done yet. While Martina Navratilova got away with her anti-Court banner and her online letter was republished or quoted by major media outlets all around Australia and the world, it was only last year that she was sacked by an LGBT group. While serving as an ambassador for Athlete Ally, Navratilova criticised transgender athletes and claimed that men competing as women are cheats and being unfair. Hmmm…so Margaret Court name must be removed because of her views on sexuality, and yet Navratilova, according to the latest definitions of phobia is also a phobe and a bigot. Indeed, how on earth did Tennis Australia miss that one when they ranted about their inclusivity policy? How can we support and praise the on-court protest by a former player who publicly speaks against transgender women playing tennis at the highest level?
Thankfully, amidst all these double faults being served by our social and sporting commentators,, there was some great tennis played both on and off the court. As journalists tried to grab quotes from players about all kinds of social and moral issues, some players like Novak Djokovic and our very own Ash Barty, saw the spin coming and avoided it with skill and grace; well done.
All this demonstrates these three simple points: One, intersectional politics and cancel culture are intent on smashing their way into every pocket of life. Second, it is an ultimately hypocritical and destructive ethic. Three, our society needs a better way of evaluating moral confusion and for relating to the other.
I remember the words of Jesus,
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
That sounds pretty enticing. Just maybe, there is more wisdom and compassion, more goodness and truth in Jesus Christ than we realise. Of course, Jesus remains no.1 target of the cancel culture, but just perhaps, we could look at the world the right way up and see that he is not an opponent to be beaten but the one who gave his life to be our advocate. Recognising such liberating news requires a doss of humility and sadly, few in this age of rage feel able to accept what Jesus says. My suggestion is this, while the intersectional mob throw balls at each other, step aside and take a few moments to consider the One who offers, ‘truth that sets you free’.