Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.


This week, my weekly News Harvest included one item which made me wonder if all this access to the Internets might be resulting in near-terminal cases of Overestimation Of Self-Importance.  (Or am I really, really late to that party?  Well, anyway…)


A woman called Jennifer Bradford, from Fort Worth, Texas, authored an online petition that asked the International Olympic Committee to strip the former Bruce Jenner and the current Caitlyn Jenner of the decathlon gold medal that s/he won at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Her logic was: Jenner claimed (in the now-famous interview with Diane Sawyer) that s/he had always felt like a female person, so therefore in 1976 she was unfairly competing against men, and was violating Olympic rules.

I did perhaps too much research than is probably worth doing, and could not find any evidence of a person by this name who had any connection to the world of Olympic decathlon or sports journalism. For me, what got my attention wasn’t so much that whoever this person is, who may have too much time on her hands, found a topic that was so important to her that she felt moved to launch a crusade about it from literally out of nowhere. This “important topic” could have been either [1] the defense of fairness in sports competition, or, conceivably, [2] the icky feeling that transgender people inspire in her heart of hearts.

Although I did scratch my head a bit. So what Ms. Bradford was suggesting is that in the year of our Lord 1976, Jenner should have mustered the courage to declare that s/he was really a woman, and to demand to be allowed to compete against women? While still enclosed in the, um, alpha-male body of Bruce Jenner? … Right. How would that have gone over, in multiple areas of 1976 society?

[In what is probably merely an amazingly unlikely coincidence, my research discovered a person called Jennifer Bradford who competed in at least one Olympic event in the Athens games in 2004. But I find it unlikely that such an actual Olympic athlete would suggest such a thing as this: what, you want to add a hypothetical Bruce Jenner to the hypothetical list of people competing against hypothetical you? Seems unlikely.]

No, actually what really got my attention, and caused me to file Fort Worth’s Ms. Bradford into the category of people for whom I was seeking a suitable adjective, were these portions of her petition‘s text:

Dear International Olympic Committee,

It has recently come to light that gold medalist Bruce Jenner is in fact transgender, and therefore, identifies as a woman. We congratulate Ms. Jenner on these new developments and wish her the best. However, this creates somewhat of a problem …

Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that we must ask whether or not it is proper that Ms. Jenner should retain her olympic [sic] records in light of this …

We urge Ms. Jenner to support the transgender community by giving up the medals earned by competing against the wrong gender.

Thank you, and congratulations to Ms. Jenner for her courage!”

In other words: congratulations on your courage (in the face of people like me). We (condescendingly) wish you well (from up here on our Pedestal). … But you’ll have to give that 39-year-old medal back. Because your courage is actually retroactive cheating.

In a rare occurrence, the International Olympic Committee accessed some common sense and politely told her to go focus on more pressing matters and not to bother them anymore. (At least that’s what their press release told her to do.) It’s perhaps the only time I’ve ever wished I could have been at an IOC meeting.


These people.


June 7, 2015 - Posted by | current events | , , , , ,

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