Israel Folau: Strange Bedfellows & Hypocrites

There’s not a lot I usually agree with Alan Jones about, but “The Parrot” is absolutely correct when he says that the Folau case is one of the defining cultural battles of our time. After years of seeing our freedoms suffocated by the stultifying march of political correctness and “progressive” groupthink, Australians outside the Quinoa Curtain have finally drawn their line in the sand.

Folau is perhaps the unlikeliest of heroes: only two states in Australia follow rugby, the country is largely irreligious and generally supportive of homosexuality. But many Australians seem to have concluded, like Jones, that “Israel Folau is fighting the battle for all of us”. Even many who disagree with what he said are prepared to fight for his right to say it. Just yesterday, a young gay man asked me just what all the fuss was about, anyway. When I told him about Folau’s now-infamous Instagram post, his only reaction was, “That’s it? Who cares?”

The saga is attracting the usual virtue-signalling elites like flies to the proverbial, but it is also making for some strange bedfellows – and not a few hypocrites.

[former head of Australia’s Human Rights Commission] Gillian Triggs said it was unacceptable that sponsors of Netball Australia contacted Maria’s employer over her post and described the attacks on Maria and Israel Folau as “vicious and ill-informed”.

And now the hypocrisy begins. It seems that what really bothers Triggs is not the bullying of public figures – after all, she helped spearhead the vicious campaign against cartoonist Bill Leak, as well as overseeing the Kafka-esque punishment-by-process of three university students – so much as that the victim this time is female.

Professor Triggs said that it showed “a growing voice” of bullying of women in public roles.

“Once a woman is in any kind of public role there is a tendency to take her down. Whether she is a sporting person or a political person, there is a growing voice bullying those women, hoping they will be denigrated,” she said.

It’s almost like Maria Folau’s husband doesn’t exist.

Then the yeah-but-no-but-yeah-but dodging begins.

“People in the Twitter world have raised section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act as being an issue for Folau but there is no such legislation in that act which prevents abuse on the grounds of sexual discrimination…parliament may need to consider whether legislation should be introduced to prohibit abuse of those of a different sexual orientation to reflect community values of respect and equality before the law.”


Just as she publicly spoke of her disappointment that “sadly you can say what you like around the kitchen table at home”, Triggs seems disappointed that the Orwellian Section 18C hasn’t banned every aspect of free speech she doesn’t like.

But Triggs isn’t the only hypocrite in all this. Australian Conservatives leader, Senator Cory Bernardi, argues that there are hypocrites on both sides of the Folau debate.

They selectively choose to support their tribe rather than the principle in any given circumstance, with the latest example GoFundMe’s decision to refuse its service to Israel Folau.

Defenders of that decision (and I am one) will accept that Folau’s campaign breached the company’s terms of service and therefore the company was perfectly entitled to remove the appeal from its platform.

The only problem is that Folau didn’t breach the company’s terms of service. Instead, GoFundMe relied on a weasel-worded clause that allows them to remove a campaign simply if they decide they don’t like it.

How is the refusal of service for Folau’s fundraising any less discriminatory than the celebrated baker who refuses to cater for a same-sex marriage?

It both is and isn’t. A more accurate comparison would be if the baker had accepted the catering job, then panicked and changed their mind after being attacked by an online mob of “outraged” churchies. Moreover, that particular bakery didn’t have a near-monopoly on cake-making services, in the same way that GoFundMe do.

Bernardi is right that GoFundMe should have the right to refuse service. He is also right that everyone else should have the right to criticise such a decision – especially when it is not made on a clear principle, but from grubby cowardice.

In this brave new world of competing rights we have to choose a side or side with principle. Only the latter will defend and protect the innate freedoms so many take for granted. The determination of the political left, and in particular the rainbow activists, to make tolerance and freedom a one-way street has all the hallmarks of an emerging authoritarianism that should concern us all.