Reaction to Evander Holyfield's Anti-Gay Comments Most OffensiveJanuary 8, 2014 @ 10:59 am (Updated: 12:53 pm - 1/9/14 )
Have you heard the comments by Boxing super star Evander Holyfield that some have labeled homophobic and anti-gay? Probably not. Holyfield is currently a contestant on the U.K.'s "Celebrity Big Brother" and during one scene that aired this past Sunday, he compared homosexuality to a disability that can be fixed by a doctor. Here is the clip -- please watch it all the way through, including the reaction of the producer:
I found the comments to be silly. Being gay is not a choice and cannot be fixed. You're born gay. But I understand folks don't all agree on this and I encourage people to have conversations and hear the perspectives of people who are gay.
What offended me most about this entire issue is what happened to Holyfield after he made the comments. He seemed to be having an earnest conversation about his beliefs (that appear to be Biblically based) with a fellow contestant, but the producers scolded him for his views. The producer argued the views "...aren't the views that are held by a large section of society." But they are. The producers may not like that (I don't like that), but it's true. And what's the reaction to conversations they deem offensive? They silence them. They warn him not to have that conversation again; to not say anything that might offend folks. That's the wrong reaction. It's very wrong.
To combat offensive speech (whether perceived or actual), you should promote more speech. Engage with folks who seem reasonable (and Holyfield seems reasonable in this clip) and seek to change their minds. If they don't, they'll at least better understand your perspective. Why demonize and silence people who don't appear to have any ill will? We should be encouraging a healthy and vigorous discussion on all topics. It's a shame the producers chose not to do that.
By the way, one wonders why GLAAD hasn't given this the Phil Robertson treatment. Granted, this show airs in the U.K. but Holyfield is an American celebrity.
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