Death by association

We have watched the Australasian media pile into Israel Folau in the last few days, for his Christian beliefs. Specifically, that gay people will go to hell if they don’t repent. He was quoting the Bible and he said the same fate applies to drunkards, fornicators and adulterers, although the media, by and large, have let that fact pass them by. Maybe the media is living by another quotation from the Bible – “Let he who hath not sinned cast the first stone”. Who knows how these people work in these clickbait days.

The media has been tough on Folau, and it looks fairly certain that he will lose his lucrative contract with Rugby Australia. Having chewed him up and spat him out, the media now turns its eyes to his wife, Maria Folau (Tutaia) who has said nothing and done nothing, but has been made guilty by association.quote.

Netball New Zealand is refusing to make any comment, but Maria Folau’s new club the Adelaide Thunderbirds has insisted it is an inclusive environment.

Maria’s husband, Israel, is set to have his contract terminated by Rugby Australia for his latest homophobic and transphobic outburst.

He hasn’t made any further comments since the reaction to his Twitter and Instagram posts, while Maria has also stayed away from social media.

But given the couple’s high profile, it has put the spotlight on Maria and how this could impact her netball career, both with the Thunderbirds who begin their season on April 28 and the Silver Ferns.

end quote.

Maria has done nothing and said nothing to either agree or disagree with her husband. She cannot be accused of anything inappropriate. Her only crime seems to be that she is married to someone who has said things that the media deems inappropriate. And that is it. quote.

While Maria has never expressed the same extreme views as Israel, she hasn’t distanced herself from them either.

end quote.

Well, there you have it. Guilty by association. Unable to leave poor Maria alone, aware that she has actually done nothing wrong, the media has to go for the fact that she hasn’t distanced herself from his comments. That is her crime, and she will be punished for it. You can be sure of that. quote.

Stuff attempted to interview Netball New Zealand chief executive Jennie Wyllie and sent through a list of questions.

These were:

* Is Netball NZ concerned the image of the Silver Ferns could be tarnished by her husband’s stance.

* Whether Netball NZ had been in contact with Maria since this blew up, to offer her advice, as well as support.

* If there is a fear that she’ll retire from the sport if Israel ends up having to go to Europe or Japan to continue his professional playing career.

* If there are concerns that if her views are the same as Israel’s she’ll be a divisive figure inside the team.

* If there are worries about how the UK media might single her out at the World Cup and it could become a distraction.

Stuff. end quote.

Those were not loaded questions, were they? Not in the least. Thankfully, Netball NZ declined to comment.

It reminds me of the days under Chairman Mao when people were carted away for not wailing loudly enough when they heard about his death, or, for a more modern comparison, of people in North Korea who do not cheer loudly enough for ‘Dear Leader’.

Or maybe we should just go back to the days of Ancient Egypt, when a Pharaoh died, his wife went on the pyre with him. Perhaps that seems more appropriate. In 2019.

Certainly, our world has changed in recent times. The comparisons with despotic regimes are hard to ignore nowadays.