Israel Folau has been scrutinised recently following controversial and ‘discriminatory’ comments posted onto his Instagram declaring “homosexuals (among other listed categories of people) will go to hell”. This is a recurring issue for Folau who came under fire last year for similar comments. In response, Rugby Australia issued him with a breach notice (termination of contract) which he has now decided to fight.
So what should our response be?
Did Folau discriminate against a group of people, clearly undermine the values of the establishment that employs him who therefore have a legitimate right to fire him?
Or, Is Folau entitled to his own opinion, without the threats from the public and the possibility of losing his job?
Through exploring these questions a common theme appeared, hypocrisy. The hypocrisy of Folau, Rugby Australia and the Media.
Hypocrisy of Folau: In April 2018, Folau wrote for Players Voice regarding his beliefs. He detailed what would happen if his comments caused disputes stating “After we’d all talked, I told Raelene (Rugby Australia CEO) if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australia rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately”. Folau’s hypocrisy is evident, he has received ‘that message’ from Rugby Australia and he is refusing to walk away from his lucrative deal.
Hypocrisy of Rugby Australia: What crime has Folau committed? This was a comment made by former Rugby League player Brett Finch this week. Finch commented, “We let people who’ve committed crimes who’ve been in jail come back into the game. Last time I check, Israel Folau didn’t commit a crime”. Rugby is guilty of accepting and allowing players who have committed serious crimes, back into the game, but now, Folau who has not committed any crime is being ridiculed and possibly could lose his job, forever.
Hypocrisy of the Media: Unsurprisingly, this hypocrisy has not been documented in the media. Folau’s comment clearly states that ‘homosexuals will go to hell’. The media has focused incredible attention on this issue and the evident discrimination illustrated. I find this funny. For a body (the media) who explicitly try to reject and neglect religion, what they are doing is giving truth to Folau’s comments, REGARDING the word ‘hell’. For non-religious people, what Folau is saying, is that homosexual will go to some made up place, which isn’t real, has no value in society, and shouldn’t be cared/worried about. Strange. Here we see the final hypocrisy of the media, violently secular, but through their actions legitimising aspects of the Christian faith.
1 crazy week. 3 separate instances of blatant hypocrisy. Exemplified by each side calling out the other side’s hypocrisy.
So should Folau be sacked?
Folau, just like anyone else, has the right to express what he believes and his religion. Is the way that he expressed his beliefs helpful or appropriate? Probably not. However, the contract that Folau signed referred explicitly to the code of ethics, requiring him not to proclaim his particular beliefs publicly. Legally, the break in contract allows Rugby Australia to issue a breach notice.
But as Liberal MP, Tim Wilson, who is also gay, summated on the ABC, “There is a need for people to be able to express their views on something like religion, and their religious beliefs, without censorship”.
Freedom of Expression? Or Discrimination?
A once clear line turning greyer by the second.