Bob Costas: It's a crass publicity stunt for ESPN to give Caitlyn Jenner an award for courage

Via Mollie Hemingway, skip to 7:45 for the key bit. The most interesting part of this is the prelude to Costas’s comments. He knows he’s about to commit a thoughtcrime by saying something very mildly critical of Jenner, an offense so serious that it’s currently unfit for broadcast in some parts of American media. But what if he prefaces the criticism by emphasizing his sympathy? What if he wishes Jenner “all the happiness in the world and all the peace of mind in the world”? What if he even makes a point of acknowledging that it did in fact take some courage to reemerge in the public eye as a woman after so many years as a man, notwithstanding the adoring media and instant progressive cultural-icon status that awaited post-transition? Is it possible to wish Caitlyn Jenner well, cheer for a more tolerant society, and think there were worthier, less clickbait-y choices for ESPN’s Arthur Ashe award for courage?

Well … no. Not really. At this fraught moment of consciousness-raising, you’re either promoting acceptance of transgenderism or you’re in the way, and if you’re in the way, your motives don’t matter. The ESPN show is a valuable PR opportunity, especially given that the sports-loving mostly male audience may be less inclined to accept someone like Jenner than the rest of the public is. Having their favorite network exhorting them to applaud the courage of transition is more important than honoring some disabled vet or child athlete battling a fatal illness. If Costas doesn’t see that then he’s anti-trans. There’s no prelude effusive enough to wash the stain away.