By Spencer D Gear PhD
The debate over Israel Folau’s statement about sinners, including homosexuals, has led to a prostitution of the English language. I use prostitution in the sense of ‘the act or process of misusing and wasting’ (Macmillan Dictionary 2019. s.v. prostitution).
Read the words of …
1. Rugby League & Union officials who violate the meaning of inclusive
Peter Beattie, former chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) told Fox Sports (5 June 2019):
“Our position on Israel Folau remains the same,” Beattie told AAP.
“We are an inclusive game with respect for all. Israel has social media posts online that go against what our game stands for.
“As it stands, he will not be considered for registration. What Israel chooses to do in relation to his social media posts and his faith is a matter for him”.
Two days after he was announced as the new ARLC chairman, Mr Peter V’landys AM, violated the meaning of inclusiveness with this statement:
The inclusivity of rugby league changed his life as an immigrant child and he has zero tolerance for Folau’s anti-gay messaging.
Former chairman Peter Beattie had previously shut down an attempt by the sacked rugby union star to resume his NRL career, and V’landys has supported the move.
“The game is inclusive. Israel’s comments are not inclusive,” V’landys said (news.com.au, 1 November 2019).
V’landys was adamant: ‘I think we need to be more inclusive and I think the greatest asset our game has is it is very inclusive’.
Beattie and V’landys repeated the assessment of Rachel Castle, CEO of Rugby Australia, ‘”Inclusion means inclusion for everybody, and we’ve got portions of our community who were very hurt and upset by Israel’s comments, hence why we are in this situation’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2019).
‘Inclusion means inclusion for everybody’. Really? That’s with the exception of being a Christian sportsman who posts on external social media with a warning from the Christian Scriptures:
(Photo: The image Folau posted on Instagram was accompanied by direct scripture quotes. (Supplied: @izzyfolau), courtesy abc.net.au, 11 May 2019)
Here are three sports’ leaders trumpeting inclusiveness but who have adopted a view of adding an exclusion to the meaning of inclusion. How do we know?
2. The meaning of ‘inclusive’
The Collins Dictionary (2019. s.v. inclusive) defines the adjective ‘inclusive’ as: ‘If you describe a group or organization as inclusive, you mean that it allows all kinds of people to belong to it, rather than just one kind of person’.
Lexico.com (Oxford dictionary) (2019. s.v. inclusive) provides the meaning as: ‘Not excluding any section of society or any party involved in something’.
The MacMillan Dictionary (2019. s.v. inclusive) describes inclusive as ‘deliberately aiming to involve all types of people’.
Therefore, to have an inclusive policy for Rugby League and Rugby Union teams means ‘all kinds of people’ should belong to them and not ‘just one kind of person’. It involves all types of people, including the secular, various religions (including Christianity), and those with no religion.
To require that a certain religion not express itself in activities outside of the sporting club – especially external to practice and playing games – is to violate the definition of ‘inclusive’. It is another issue if this anti-religious activity is written into the sports’ person’s contract.
Making an exclusion as part of the understanding of inclusion seems to be part of the definition for Peter Beattie, Peter V’landys and Rachel Castle.
3. Inclusive means excluding Christianity
If ‘inclusion’ is ‘for everybody’, why is it not for Folau’s Christianity? Castle, Beattie and V’landys have thus caused ‘inclusion’ to incorporate an exclusion. If Castle agreed with the Collins Dictionary, she would not be in the challenge of the Folau contract. That’s because Christianity must be a part of an inclusive rugby union code.
Grand Slam tennis champion of 1970, Margaret Smith (Court), is another example. For the male champion, Rod Laver, for the Australian Open tennis grand slam he was flown from the USA, where he now lives, to celebrate his 50th anniversary since his grand slam win.
What has happened to Margaret Court? She is a Pentecostal preacher in Perth who has made clear statements about God’s view of heterosexuality and opposition to homosexuality. The Newcastle Herald reported Court’s statements:
“I just said what the Bible said and I think a lot of people didn’t like it,” Court said.
“Really that’s all I was saying and you got blasted because of it and bullied because of it.
“In my heart, I have nothing against the person, we have them in our own church, but that’s how I think it was portrayed.
“I think I had broad shoulders in tennis and you can carry it through.
“I’d still say the same thing again today.
We need to be able to say what we think and believe.
“I think we really need to protect freedom of speech because that’s the start of something.
“We need to be able to say what we think and believe.
“It wasn’t that I was saying what I thought, I was saying it from what God thought in the Scriptures.”
Court admitted she stands up and speaks her mind for the next generation.
“I think a lot of people did (get upset) because I think they lead that lifestyle and that’s their choice,” she said (Greenway 2019).
(photo, Margaret Court, courtesy Victory Life International, Perth, WA)
Tennis Australia’s (TA) response was swift. It “respects Margaret’s unmatched tennis career and welcomes her to the Australian Open, particularly in this milestone anniversary year,” the TA statement read.
“As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret’s personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years. They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.
“Our sport welcomes everyone, no matter what gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality, and we will continue to actively promote inclusion initiatives widely at all levels of the sport.
“In 2017 the Australian Open launched #Open4All, a major diversity and inclusion initiative, designed to showcase the many inclusive opportunities in tennis” (Matthey 2019).
This is a farcical statement. It states ‘we will continue to actively promote inclusion’, but what does it do with Margaret Court? It practises exclusion because TA does not support Margaret Court’s freedom to practise her Christian beliefs. When ‘inclusion’ incorporates ‘exclusion’ words have lost their meaning. See my article: ‘Inclusiveness’ that prostitutes the English language.
Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity’. I consider that TA’s support for inclusion while practising exclusion to be in the category of ‘sincere ignorance’. I wait for the day when TA wakes up to Margaret Court’s view of homosexuals:
“I love them, I have them in the church here [Victory Life Centre, Perth]. ” she said (Christmass 2019)
With the NRL, ARU, and TA, it seems to me that we have leaders of the organisations that have written a new, idiosyncratic definition of ‘inclusion’ to exclude those whose beliefs (expressed externally) are those with which they disagree.
I’m of the view, based on the definition of ‘inclusive’, that the NRL, ARU and TA should have this policy with regard to all players: ‘We welcome players of all religious and non-religious perspectives. What you do off the field is your business, even if it is in public. You will never be excluded from our sports because of your religion’.
The prostitution of the English language by these sporting leaders has required that inclusive incorporate an exclusion – the message of Christianity.
They exclude those whose world views differ from theirs. It’s time for them to get back to the common explanation of ‘inclusive’ that excludes nobody.
5. Works consulted
Christmass, P 2019. Margaret Court defends views on gay marriage amid renewed Tennis Australia drama. 7News (online), 7 November. Available at: https://7news.com.au/sport/tennis/i-have-nothing-against-homosexuals-margaret-court-defends-views-on-gay-marriage-c-545514 (Accessed 23 January 2020).
Greenway, B 2019. Aussie tennis legend Margaret Court stands her ground on same-sex marriage. Newcastle Herald, 2 January. Available at: https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/5834029/margaret-court-stands-her-ground-id-say-it-again/?cs=7597 (Accessed 23 January 2020).
Matthey, J 2019. Tennis Australia invites Margaret Court to Melbourne Park but distances itself from her views. News.com.au (online), 2 December. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/sport/tennis/tennis-australia-invites-margaret-court-to-melbourne-park-but-distances-itself-from-her-views/news-story/a1e119362cbecee6edc7f8eaa4c21585 (Accessed 23 January 2020).
Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 January 2020.