Thursday, 9 May 2019

On Israel Folau

If you're unaware, Israel Folau is a champion Australian sportsman, and homophobic bigot. 

In 2018, in response to a question on Instagram, he stated that gay people face hell unless they repent. Rugby Australia said they disagreed with the comments. Qantas, major sponsor of the Wallabies (Australia's national men's Rugby Union team), condemned the comments, saying they were very disappointing. 

When Australia was debating the marriage equality plebiscite, Folau stated that he would not support 'gay marriage'. 

In April of this year he faced a disciplinary hearing from Rugby Australia for a social media post saying that gay people are sinners and are bound for hell.

In short, Israel Folau is a religious numpty. 

The Rugby Australia hearing found Folau guilty of a 'high level' breach of their code of conduct. Rugby Australia has said they wish to terminate Folau's multi-million dollar contract. This will also mean he'll lose the ability to play for the NSW Waratahs. If he does lose his Rugby Union job, he won't be able to transfer to the NRL (Australia's rugby league competition) as the NRL has said he fails their inclusiveness culture. 

Folau isn't without his supporters though. Alan Jones, former Wallabies coach and right-wing radio imbecile, is on Folau's side. Jones said there was "nothing wrong with Israel, it's the society and those who persecute him who are sick". Yep, Jones is a fuckwit. 

Jones said that Folau is being punished for saying "I am a Christian". Hyperbole. Nonsense. Just plain wrong. 

Jones also paraphrased the NSW parliament maiden speech of another nutjob Mark Latham. Jones informed his listeners that Latham's speech would say “all Israel Folau has done is say what people have said for hundreds of years under the banner of the bible.” Not quite what Latham said. (He actually said He believes, as millions of people have believed for thousands of years, that sinners go to Hell.)

Either way, it's not a defence of what Folau said, and never will be. They're basically saying it's okay because he's following the bible. Well, you know what? Telling someone they can beat their slaves is also in the bible, and that's really not okay. 

We've got to move away from this idea that "it's my religion" is an acceptable defence of poor behaviour. 

Others have defended Folau's right to free speech and have said that he has a right to his opinion. 

No one disagrees with this. Folau has the right to hold ignorant views based on fairytales, but his employers aren't obliged to keep him as an employee when his comments violate the rules that they have in place. Employers are entitled to fire anyone who breaches their codes of conduct. Employers are not obliged to pay people who hold, and voice, hateful, bigoted views. 

This, in no way, infringes Folau's right to say what he wants. When he's locked up for spreading his ignorant, outdated views, THEN people can say his right to free speech is being infringed (note, Australia doesn't not have a constitutional right to free speech, merely an 'unwritten' moral one. But, yes, we do have a constitution). 

For the record, these are the Rugby Australia code of conduct rules that Folau breached...

Section 1:3 Treat everyone equally, fairly and with dignity regardless of gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural or religious background, age or disability. Any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination has no place in Rugby.

Section 1:7 Use Social Media appropriately. By all means share your positive experiences of Rugby but do not use Social Media as a means to breach any of the expectations and requirements of you as a player contained in this Code or in any Union, club or competition rules and regulations.

It's quite clear that Folau's comments breach these rules. And remember, Folau plays Rugby voluntarily. He's not forced to be a part of Rugby Australia. And by choosing to be a part of Rugby Australia, he is choosing to abide by their rules. He then broke the rules, and now he's facing the consequences. "It's my religion" isn't going to cut it as a defence. 

Alan Jones said Australia won't stand for this. Well, Alan, you're wrong. Australia *IS* standing for this. Good Australian people don't agree with these views. Good Australian people don't think gay people deserve hell, or that they'll end up in hell. 

The dumping of Folau by Rugby Australia is a good thing. It shows people that these kind of views won't be tolerated. It shows young people, who had Folau as a 'hero' that ignorant views about people being sent to hell aren't acceptable.