Dark consequence of silencing Folau

OPINION

Anyone who had any doubt in their mind that freedom of speech is under threat in Australia must now reconsider.

Sacked Wallaby Israel Folau's online campaign to raise money for his legal fight against Rugby Australia was removed on Monday morning.

And with that, the voices of 7000 donors were silenced.

It's important to realise, there was a larger point to Folau's campaign page that had nothing to do with money. Many had joined Folau's cause who didn't necessarily agree with the views he originally posted on social media, but supported his cause to protect freedom of speech. Closing it down is only going to pour petrol onto those flames.

Folau's GoFundMe page had raised $750,000 towards a $3 million target. Now, each and every one of those donations is winging its way back to the donor.

A spokesman for GoFundMe said that after a period of evaluation, Folau's campaign had violated its terms of service.

"We are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity," GoFundMe's Australian regional director Nicola Britton said.

 

A screen grab from Israel Folau’s GoFundMe page. Picture: Supplied
A screen grab from Israel Folau’s GoFundMe page. Picture: Supplied

So, quite simply Folau's page was shut down because the rainbow LGBTIQ+ activists have an excessive amount of power in our society.

"While we welcome GoFundMe's engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion," Ms Britton added.

Let's be really clear about something, which has been lost in this heated discussion. To attempt to assert that Folau's posts were homophobic is simply disingenuous. His post read, "WARNING: Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolaters, HELL AWAITS YOU. Repent! Only Jesus Saves."

There are eight categories listed there. Many of us would tick at least one, if not several of those categories.

The rainbow LGBTIQ+ category has been singled out because that's got the most vocal activists and currently carries the most corporate clout.

Is this the correct way for democracy to run? Are we happy to become slaves to those with the loudest voices?

Personally, I find Folau's post as offensive as threatening rantings from any religion. It is baffling that some appear to have an issue with Christianity and not other dominant world religions, which literally threaten to kill nonbelievers.

It just happens that hating Christianity - and Christians - is fashionable.

If Folau's words have no place in Australia we must ditch the hypocrisy and apply this logic equally to each and every religion and ideology, including feminism which casts original sin at the feet of men.

In a democracy there will always be people who disagree with you; even within organised religion there are varying degrees of extremism. If we go down this path, who is to become the gatekeeper of where the line of what is acceptable should be drawn? Who decides how much is too much?

Israel Folau had his lucrative rugby contract terminated over the ‘homophobic’ tweet. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Israel Folau had his lucrative rugby contract terminated over the ‘homophobic’ tweet. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

We either believe in free speech or we don't. We can't have it both ways. Tolerating other people's free speech is part of living in a democratic society. We need to become better at walking past views we disagree with.

English author Evelyn Beatrice Hall said in 1906, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

The point is this: We may disagree with Folau's post.

We may disagree with the categories his post outlines as human beings who need to repent.

We may disagree that there is a god at all.

We may disagree anyone needs to repent or that hell exists.

But, we are on really dangerous ground if we start banning views we disagree with.

Folau is a devout Christian. Are we now saying that is unacceptable in Australia?

Some were offended that Folau turned to GoFundMe because he has millions in the bank. Actually, having millions of dollars in property is different to having millions of dollars in the bank. Who is to decide where that line is to be drawn on GoFundMe? Was Egg Boy allowed to raise $100,000 for his legal fees on the very same platform without anyone batting an eyelid because people agreed with the point he was making?

This is a really slippery slope.

Today the vocal minority has had a win, but it is the quiet majority who will suffer in the long term because democracy doesn't require us to just listen to the loudest voices.

Corrine Barraclough is a freelance writer. Continue the conversation @TweetCorrineB


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