As qualities go, petulant smugness is not an attractive one for the leader of one of the most respected golf tournaments in the land.
So when Billy Payne took over for Hootie Johnson as the chairman of Augusta National and the Masters, one had hoped that his ability to handle the debate over the club's male-only membership rules would have been more adult than his predecessor, who famously quipped that Augusta would not open its doors to female members "at the point of a bayonet."
Sadly, when confronted with the issue of allowing women as members for the first time, Payne quickly came off as smug and petulant.
"I'm very much aware of her position on all issues as they relate to Augusta National," Payne said of Burk, the former leader of the National Council of Women's Organizations, who had requested a meeting with him. "I don't really see at this time that any dialogue would be meaningful or helpful."
Now, this isn't to say Augusta National shouldn't have the right to be all-male. It should. Because, in an open society, such issues can be debated, examined, and will eventually resolve themselves to some extent.
But when the leader of Augusta blows off the debate as meaningless, he validates the stereotype that the leaders of golf are overfed, oblivious and self-important. Because don't think that Payne's comment was intended solely for feminist Martha Burk. It's purpose was also to mute the issue.
For a man to casually slough off such an issue is childish at best, and dangerous at its worst.
Nothing smacks more of arrogance than believing we are some incredibly evolved species. We as humans aren't. We just aren't. From bashing a woman's skull in with the butt of shotgun, to blowing off a woman's concerns regarding equality, we are not in a position to be smug about anything regarding the rights of women.
So while freedom should dictate that Payne and his boys should be allowed to choose the rules of which they play, having an all-male club requires a singularly important thing -- that the club be run by a real man. And real men listen.
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