In light of the recent controversy on her nomination for a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia, Pastor and Australian tennis veteran Margaret Court defines and defends her theo-phobic views as free speech, or something like it, calling those who criticise her evangelicalistic views “bullies”. But while she was being cross about being taken out of context again, someone else quietly stood up to show us what free speech actually looks like. Margaret Court and the rest of Australia, we give you winner of the Australian of the Year Awards for 2021, Grace Tame.
This largely unknown and incredibly courageous young woman used her platform and the publicity to draw focus to the cause of victims of child sexual abuse. In doing so, she has ripped the shameful shroud of silence which clings to abuse victims, many of them having suffered at the hands of ministers, pastors, priests and Tame’s address is powerful, raw, confronting, and indelible (A partial transcript is posted below.)What was said can never go back in the box, and nor should it. Grace owned every truth she told in those few breathtaking moments, and it was all hers to tell. In doing so she made a way for others to speak out, but she also created a conduit through which we may listen to their stories, however painful or uncomfortable the truth is. That there was a change-making speech. That’s what free speech does.
Two women, very different attitudes. Both Tame and Court have fears and aspirations. Both have conquered greatly and been convicted down to their marrow about what they believe to be right, and what they feel is wrong. But only one has allowed her experiences, learning, conscience and conviction to lead her to embrace anything resembling free speech. The other so vastly peppers her orations with prejudice and vilification, it’s hard to tell where she begins, and the limitations to her understanding of anyone outside her narrow spiritual, social and cultural sphere ends.
Court believes in her heart of hearts in free speech. But as they say in The Princess Bride, I do not think that word means what you think it means. Free speech is not about being allowed to speak freely – it is speech that at it’s very core is of, for and about freedom. Hate speech can never be free speech because they are diametrically opposed. When a victim tells the truth about her abuse in an effort to set herself and others free, that’s free speech. But if we threaten, directly or indirectly, consequences of non-compliance to an ideology, blaming some higher power or greater mission for the harm and hurt perpetrated in our doing so, that’s not free speech. That’s shaming speech. That’s fear speech. In essence, that is hate speech. Faith in anything other than ourselves is an abdication of the self, and any speech which invites us to discard what we know to be intrinsically who and what we are is not free speech. Those who speak fear and hate are free to do so, but they are not free to claim it is in essence or intent free.
The courageous way of free speech speaks of truth in all it’s terrible detail, without the need to threaten, cajole or invoke the authority of an invisible god. This way involves bringing our own vulnerability and power together to create a safe space for truth – ours and others – to emerge. The courageous way owns everything that happened, everything that’s happening now, and everything that will happen from here. The way of free speech knows there will be consequences, but also knows, regardless of how painful or dreadful, nothing could be worse than what happens if the truth isn’t told. Free speech midwives truth into the collective consciousness, through those who are willing to be fully who they are, and want others to be the same. Grace Tame is such a midwife, and the light she has brought into our awareness via her authenticity and strength will help so many other prisoners of sexual abuse to be made free.
Margaret Court and others who hold to the same ideas are not homophobic, it’s God they fear. They feel no authentic concern that LGBTQI people might go to hell. They’re afraid they will go to hell for not reminding people “what the Bible says”. Margaret Court is afraid when she stands before God to give account for her life, He will judge and condemn her for not “teaching” the “good news” as fully and truthfully as she could, about how wrong it is to love someone with the same genitalia as you, or accept yourself for who you know yourself to be rather than what society demands. No, Pastor Court has no fear of LGBTQI people, but she has no love for them either. She is not interested in their story. She has no time for their truth. And she is certainly not interested in their freedom.
Jesus said, ***“If you hold to my teaching [love your god with all your heart, and love your neighbour as yourself] you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Now that’s free speech.
Jo Hilder (c)
Quotes by Margaret Court
- The 78-year-old, who is now a reverend in Perth, wrote an open letter in 2017 saying she would boycott Qantas over its support of same-sex marriage.
- In 2013, Ms Court wrote a letter to the editor in a newspaper lamenting the birth of Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua’s child in a same-sex relationship. “It is with sadness that I see that this baby has seemingly been deprived of a father,” Ms Court wrote.
- “When she talked about children of transgenders being from the devil, that put me over the edge.” – Billie Jean King
- “There’s a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get the minds of the children.” – Margaret Court on a supposed media, educational and political LGBTQI brainwashing agenda.
- “Tennis is full of lesbians. Even when I was playing there were only a couple there but those couple that led took young ones into parties.”
- “We’re there to help them overcome. We’re not against the people.” Margaret Court on loving the sinner, hating the sun.
- On marriage equality: “We know that homosexuality is a lust of the flesh, so is adultery, fornication, all those things … they too know this, this is why they want marriage, because it’s self-satisfying. I think they know it comes against Christianity, the beliefs of God, but in some way it’s justifying.”
- “That’s what Hitler did. That’s what communism did — get in the minds of the children. There’s a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get in the minds of the children.” Court comments on an LGBTI movement and culture she imagines is indoctrinating youth.”
Grace Tame – 2021 Australian Of The Year, Partial Transcript Of Acceptance Speech
“I lost my virginity to a paedophile. I was 15, anorexic. He was 58. He was my teacher. For months he groomed me and then abused me almost every day: Before school, after school, in my uniform, on the floor. I didn’t know who I was.”
“Publicly, he described his crimes as ‘awesome’ and ‘enviable’. Publicly, I was silenced by law. Not any more. Australia, we’ve come a long way but there is still more work to do in a lot of areas.
“Child sexual abuse and cultures that enable it still exist. Grooming and its lasting impacts are not widely understood. Predators manipulate all of us — family, friends, colleagues, strangers in every class, culture and community. They thrive when we fight amongst ourselves and weaponise all of our vulnerabilities.
“Trauma does not discriminate, nor does it end when the abuse itself does. First Nations people, people with disabilities, the LGBTQI community and other marginalised groups face even greater barriers to justice. Every voice matters.”
*** John 8:31 (parentheses mine)