The problem bigots have in 2012 is that they don’t like being labeled bigots, so they engage in public contortions to make it look like they are being victimized for opening their pieholes and saying racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic garbage that is ludicrous.

Tennis legend (and now televangelist/pastor of Victory Life Centre) Margaret Court can join the list of preposterous bigots looking for support after uttering homophobic trash. Let’s take a look at the statement in question that has stirred the controversy. Via the NYT in December:

“Politically correct education has masterfully escorted homosexuality out from behind closed doors, into the community openly and now is aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take,” Court told the newspaper.

There is no reason to put forward alternative, unhealthy, unnatural unions as some form of substitute,” she continued.

To dismantle this sole definition of marriage and try to legitimize what God calls abominable sexual practices that include sodomy, reveals our ignorance as to the ills that come when society is forced to accept law that violates their very own God-given nature of what is right and what is wrong.”

Alrighty then. Does that sound a tad offensive in any way? Does Court think someone calling her abominable is just being neighborly? When this drew threats of protest by LGBT groups at this month’s Australian Open, and drew the ire of fellow legends Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova:

The retired tennis players and lesbian activists Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova and the recently retired Australian doubles specialist Rennae Stubbs all voiced their disappointment and disapproval of Court’s words in interviews with the Tennis Channel’s James LaRosa.

“Her myopic view is truly frightening as well as damaging to the thousands of children already living in same-gender families,” Navratilova said

Court then tossed off this jaw-dropping defense of her remarks (taking a page from the well-worn bigot handbook, 2011-2012 edition):

I remember, probably 10, 12 years ago, I spoke with Martina Navratilova. To say that I “hate” homosexuals and lesbians is not [accurate] because we have them in our church. I work with them. And I remember saying to Martina: “Martina, I love you. God loves you. But a wrong doesn’t make a right.”…

I make a stand for both my biblical side, and what I believe. And I think — it’s a choice. And I think there’s young people today that need to know it’s a choice in life. And that was my side of it, bringing that forth. I’ve got nothing against the people themselves, I’ve always said that all the years I’ve been a minister.

FYI, this is not a one-time bigotry blast or “slip up”; Court has a long history of spewing anti-gay hate. You see, this is the basic defense gaining popularity — “I’m not a bigot, my crude, insensitive remarks are just me expressing my religious beliefs” — with the implication that any uproar about the bigotry is somehow a threat to their religious freedom.

It’s the kind of brain-dead, pious, pitiful thinking that is behind a bill in Tennessee, proposed by “Christian activist” and State Senator David Fowler (R) that would gut a anti-bullying bill with a loophole so that it would:

“not be construed or interpreted to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of students and shall not prohibit their expression of religious, philosophical, or political views”

In other words, unless the student just shows general contempt not based on anything in particular toward another student, it’s A-OK to bully for just about any reason. You can justify it if it’s a personal belief based on, say, you don’t like kids in wheelchairs because you disagree with the Americans for Disabilities Act, or your church tells you gays are an abomination. You know, that kinda thing.

People just need to own up to their bigotry and its impact on a civil society. You can say anything you want, but sometimes there are social repercussions. With the rates of teen suicides due to incessant bullying based on real or perceived LGBT status or gender identity issues, it’s clear that words do matter.

And as far as Margaret Court goes, it’s just Too. Damn. Bad. if she doesn’t want the bigot label.

Hat tip, Towleroad.