As most readers know, Filipino boxing star Manny Pacquiao has been all over media headlines this past week for his controversial comments regarding same-sex couples, using bible quotes and elementary logic to conclude that gays and lesbians are “worse than animals.” To recap the original quote once more, it read:
"It's common sense," he said. "Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals."
The media backlash has been harsh as celebrity figures including Magic Johnson and former WWE star Dave Bautista have publically condemned the Filipino star for his comments. Bautista, who is son to a lesbian mother, took considerable offense, saying that “if anyone called my mother an animal, I'd stick my foot in his ass." Johnson, who is father to a gay son, has also gone on the record saying that he will no longer attend or watch any future Pacquiao fights and urges fans to do the same.
Things only got worse with the spread of media wildfire, as Nike ended their more than eight year relationship with the boxer, stating that they found his comments “abhorrent” and “oppose discrimination of any kind”. While other sponsors have publicly spoken out against Pacquiao’s stance, none have appeared to follow Nike’s lead by cutting all professional ties.
Despite the controversy, Pacquiao has seemingly double-downed on his opinion. In an interview with local reporters, the aspiring politician had this to say:
"What I am saying is right. I mean I am just stating the truth, what the Bible says," said Pacquiao via Yahoo Sports. "What I did wrong was just comparing the people to animals, but you know what I am telling is the truth.”
It’s not the most surprising turn of events. His initial apology didn’t really recant his core belief, rather more the way in which he had said it. His statement of “praying” for the LGBT community also came off as a bit patronizing, and didn’t really address the core issue that fans found problematic. On the other hand, how far can you really condemn someone for believing in the way they choose to believe?
This appears to be at the core of the debate that has arisen amongst fans and readers. While some don’t necessarily share Pacquiao’s view on the matter, they do believe he should have the freedom to think and speak as he chooses, and that an athlete’s social views should not be a factor in determining their professional career. Others hold the stance that famous athletes like Pacquiao are role models in the world, and that his thoughts and actions have consequences that reverberate throughout society. Pacquiao holding a current seat in Filipino congress and likely making a run for president after retirement certainly expands that net of influence he casts.
Perhaps a good measure of where fans will fall on the matter will be seen in Pacquiao’s upcoming rubber-match against Timothy Bradley on April 9th. Though the bout generated underwhelming interest from the beginning, it will be interesting to see if the media controversy will have any further affect. In an interview with RingTV.com, Top Rank CEO and Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum called his fighter’s comments “reprehensible”, but also remained somewhat neutral in saying, “I’m putting on a fight, not promoting a politician.” When asked how he felt the backlash might affect PPV numbers, Arum’s guess was as good as anyone else’s.
“I have no idea,” Arum said. “I mean we live in a country — look at the number of people who support Donald Trump and the (expletive) that he says. Who knows anymore? How can you make a prediction [on the PPVs]?”
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