Punishing the truth
We were recently presented with an example of how the noxious combination of identity politics and political correctness can make people blithering idiots.
The victim of the craziness this time around was former tennis great John McEnroe, who was naïve enough to honestly answer a question about current tennis great Serena Williams.
When asked by a reporter about where Williams ranks among the other greats who have played the game, McEnroe, who almost certainly knows something of which he speaks, enthusiastically said she was the “best female player ever— no question.”
But that praise wasn’t good enough for the reporter, who then asked why he qualified it with the term “female player” and couldn’t simply declare Williams “the best player in the world.” A baffled McEnroe, apparently surprised by the weird follow-up question, said it was because “if she played the men’s circuit, she’d be, like, 700 in the world.”
The rending of garments and pulling of hair among the usual suspects followed accordingly.
Potential exaggeration (maybe) aside, McEnroe’s point was inarguable—that Serena Williams, as great as she is on the female circuit, wouldn’t stand a chance against Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic. Indeed, the hunch is she couldn’t have taken a single game, let alone a set or match, against McEnroe himself in his prime (no one was ever better at the serve and volley game that ill-suits women’s tennis than Mac).
It is not “dissing” Serena Williams or female tennis players or women more generally in any way to acknowledge any of this.
After all, how many baskets would the best women’s basketball player be able to score in a one-onone game against LeBron James or Kevin Durant? Would the world’s fastest woman sprinter make Usain Bolt even break a sweat in the 200 meters? And what chance would the world’s best woman’s baseball player have had to make contact with a Nolan Ryan fastball?
We know the answers to these questions, as did the ogre McEnroe. But the fake outrage machine must be appeased and scalps demanded when people tell truths that violate the strictures of political correctness, because outrage and indignation rather than truth are increasingly what our misnamed public discourse is all about.
Alas, there is a reason why world records in most sports are kept separately for men and women, and why the men’s records are much better than the women’s. That reason is a stubborn thing called biology and its consequences in the form of members of one gender (male) being generally bigger, stronger and faster than members of the other (female). Indeed, it is worth noting along these lines that the women’s 100-meter world record, now nearly 30 years old, is slower than the winning time in many boys’ high school meets.
I don’t know whether Serena Williams could actually beat the world’s 699th ranked male tennis player (I seriously doubt it), but I know who I would rush to place some big bets on if she played any of the top 100.
But then none of this has much to do with women’s athletics or gender equality, does it? To the contrary, it has to do with the thrill of discovery on the part of the perpetually offended when they come across something in their continual search that offends them, defined as somebody saying something they don’t like but can’t refute with facts or logic.
Rather than being interested in what is and isn’t true, the people who rushed to denounce a male tennis player for speaking the truth about a female tennis player are mostly interested in power and coercion, and its employment in the service of extracting a sufficient level of obligatory and ritualistic groveling from the targeted party (in this case John McEnroe).
Commenting on the absurdity of it all, National Review’s David French noted that “Serena Williams is a tremendous athlete, a historic talent. There is no shame in being the best athlete in her sport, and her sport is women’s tennis. … In the meantime, it would behoove members of the so-called ‘party of science’ to remember that biology actually does trump ideology.”
To his credit, McEnroe has, at the time of writing, refused to grovel and apologize, as there is no reason he should for telling a truth evident to all.
And how do we know it is the truth?
Actually, we can take Serena’s word for it, more precisely her response when asked a few years back about playing an exhibition against Britain’s Andy Murray: “Are you kidding … I would lose 6-0, 6-0 in five to six minutes, maybe 10 minutes. … It’s a completely different sport. The men are a lot faster and they serve harder, they hit harder, it’s just a different game.”
So for those who are so easily offended and whose passions so easily aroused by the trivial, some advice: Get off Twitter and the Internet in general, maybe read a book or two, acquire some knowledge and try to do that apparently challenging thing called thinking. And then, and only then, formulate some opinions.
And, in this case, maybe try to watch a little men’s and women’s tennis, too.