Oz Blog News Commentary

Only conservative speech to be permitted

July 1, 2019 - 09:23 -- Admin

Unless you live under
a rock and never read the newspapers, watch television, listen to the radio or
are on social media, you will have heard of the mess former Rugby player Israel
Folau has gotten himself into, by telling the world that homosexuals are going
to hell. This is the second time he has done something like this, and Rugby
Australia, had had enough and tore up his multi-million dollar contract1.

Of course, the Christians
who actually believe the drivel Folau spouted, have come out in support of his right
to tell all us sinners where we will be going. It almost goes without saying
that like Folau, they also fail to see the irony of threatening atheists with
hell should the latter not repent1.

After the initial whining
from the religious nutters, all sorts of ultraconservatives have come out in
support of Folau, and many of these are the same people who are quite ready to
use the dog whistle against asylum-seekers, Aboriginals, African Australians,
Muslims and sundry other people they do not like, and by disparaging them, gaining
political mileage among the easily frightened and gullible2,3.

The ultraconservatives
have maintained that the Folau saga is all about freedom of speech and that he
should be allowed to say whatever he wants because it is part of his religion.
What they seem to forget is that he did say what he wanted. However, when one
says something, one has to be prepared to suffer the consequences. If I had publicly
said something disparaging about a particular group of people (women, homosexuals,
Polynesians, Africans, Aboriginals, take your pick), my workplace would
probably have warned me the first time, and sacked me the second time for
breaching the code of conduct to which I signed up when they employed me. This
is precisely what happened to Folau. The fact that Folau believes he was hard
done by is symptomatic of the belief by the religious that they are superior to
everyone else and that they deserve special consideration. They have become
used to this over many centuries.

Folau set up a GoFundMe
account “to support my legal action”. However, he included a disclaimer declaring
he actually had no obligation to use the money to finance his legal action4.
His GoFundMe account garnered some many hundreds of thousands of dollars before
it was taken down because it breached the service guidelines. GoFundMe stated
that they would not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion. All
donors are to be refunded their donations5. Then the Australian
Christian Lobby (ACL) jumped in to assist him, by opening up a fundraiser, having
donated $100,000 themselves. At the time of writing that had reached over $2
million of its $3 million target. However, it has been ‘paused’ because of the
concerns over the rather high valuation of Folau’s legal fees6. The
fact that Folau has a property portfolio amounting to over $6 million, probably
was also a concern4, given the survey conducted by conservative
indicated that two thirds of its presumably conservative readers thought Folau
should fund his own legal campaign7.

Now Folau has appeared
on Sky News with one of Australia’s most famous homosexuals, Alan Jones, who Folau
presumably thinks will also be going to hell for his sexual orientation. In
this interview, Folau stated that: “My identity is founded by what’s
written in that book [the bible],” he said. “It’s who I am and how I conduct
myself every day.”7 If this is the case, then presumably he doesn’t
eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:10), nor does he have tattoos (Leviticus 19:28). Um,
apart from those over his chest, right shoulder and right arm, that is. Of course,
Folau is exceptionally selective in his following of ‘that book’, as are all
those who profess to follow it.

Folau has clearly become the darling of
the ultraconservatives in their support of free speech, but their assertion
that free speech is important is also very selective. You only have to look at
their treatment of Yassmin Abdel-Magied to see who they believe has the right
to free speech. In 2017, Abdel-Magied tweeted “Lest we forget (Manus Nauru,
Syria, Palestine….)”. Of course, the ultraconservatives, such as Rita Panahi
and Alan Jones, and even the idiotic Pauline Hanson, piled on. Jones said, that
Abdel-Magied was “un-Australian” and many called on her to be sacked from the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation8. Despite the fact that
Abdel-Magied deleted the tweet and apologised, the opprobrium was unrelenting, and
she received numerous, and daily, death threats such that she felt unsafe, and
moved from Australia to London. Indeed, the silly Prue MacSween on Chris Smith’s
radio show said she’d be tempted to run Abdel-Magied over if she saw her while
driving. She was taken to task over this, but replied that it was a joke and
seemingly unaware of the irony of her tweeted assertion that “last time I
looked this was a country of free speech”. Smith later apologised, and all was
forgiven9. It is a shame they never extended that forgiveness to

While several commentators (e.g. Peter van
Onselen) have asserted that the supporters of Folau as well as his opponents
are much the same10, I disagree. Folau has said that some people,
because of who they are, will go to hell. If his opponents had said Polynesians
should shut up, I’d probably agree with van Onselen. However, they haven’t;
they are mostly only concerned with Folau’s vilification of homosexuals, not who
he is, nor the colour of his skin. This is also clear from the hilarious
responses from the supposedly hell-bound drunks, adulterers, fornicators and
atheists. They were unconcerned by Folau’s vilification, because they chose that
part of their lives, whereas homosexuals have not. It is who they are. That is
the difference.

Van Onselen also said that the accusation
of hypocrisy also applies to “LGBTI advocates who demand all bakers service gay
weddings” but who “now applaud GoFundMe’s refusal to host Folau’s cause”. Here
again, I disagree, and for much the same reason. GoFundMe’s response was not
because Folau is of Polynesian extraction, but because of the vilification he
spouted. Bakers refusing to serve homosexuals is simple discrimination against
a person for who they are. Bakers in some parts of the country used to refuse
to serve Aboriginals, now they cannot because there are laws against such discrimination.
Such laws should apply to everyone, equally.



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