Folau fulminating and media mire

Perhaps I didn’t say things very well yesterday in The Israel Folau furore continues – there have been some positive outcomes as various people have spoken up against Folau’s archaic and insulting (but still very common) religious beliefs.

But very few if any people would have been hurt or offended if his small comment on Instagram had been like millions of other online comments every day and had been ignored.

The social media and furore gave the comments publicity they didn’t deserve, and that exposed people to offence and hurt that otherwise wouldn’t have been suffered.

Protesting and publicising the comments exposed millions to possible hurt and offence.

While it is a feature of modern media and social media, why did Folau’s comment get so much attention and opprobrium?

Folau is a rugby player. Until now his public utterances were not seen as important.

In comparison Destiny Church Brian Tamaki says ‘cry baby gays’ will go to hell

Outspoken Destiny Church self-proclaimed pastor Brian Tamaki has come out in support of Israel Folau, hitting out at “cry baby gays” and agreeing the LGBTQ community could go to hell.

“The Bible says hell is a possibility for anyone who doesn’t repent. Jesus didn’t apologise for offending people when speaking God’s word. If the gay community want to be accepted as a part of society then ‘take it on the nose’ like the rest of us.”

He then used a hashtag he made up, “#crybabygays”, to sign off the message.

Tamaki speaks to and tries to influence many people, but apart from a few passing mentions gets nothing like the criticism that Folau got.

However Tamaki is largely ignored as an attention seeking nutter, while the normally private Folau is plastered and blasted.

David Cohen at RNZ – Folau comments: Keeping an eye on the wider picture

It is easy enough to say Israel Folau was wrong to get all religiously high and mighty on social media about homosexual behaviour.

The question also naturally arises of how the mainstream media ought to be dealing with fundamentalist beliefs of any stripe in the first place – not to mention the perils of holding up people who happen to be good at kicking a ball, as also being liberal champions.

It has been said before – by this writer, in fact – that not only sports stars but poets, critics, movie-makers, playwrights and rock performers tend to make for notably unreliable authorities on pretty much all matters outside of their chosen field (if on that).

With only a few notable exceptions, they offer bad ideas on social policy, banal observations about economics and, yes, whoppingly ill-considered religious views, too.

Some mainstream commentators have used the controversy to anguish over the limits of free speech. In the news business, these are sometimes known as whyohwhyofwhyohwhy pieces – commentaries that rather skirt a fundamental issue, in this instance the question of fundamentalism itself.

Folau was, after all, simply giving his own, particularly rigid, Christian stance on homosexual behaviour. He also was expressing a view shared by many who take a severe interpretation of any of the three great monotheistic religions.

Threatening hell for all sorts of behaviours has been common for yonks, as anyone who went to a religion orientated school (or church) in the past can probably attest.

Christianity’s record in this regard is well known, notwithstanding the fact that plenty of thoughtful, devout believers, would argue the toss, or at any rate, question the focus on what consenting adults choose to do among themselves.

But the ultra-Orthodox stream of Judaism isn’t exactly known for sanctioning homosexuality (although Israel – the country, not the player – generally takes justifiable pride in being the most LGBTQ-friendly country in the Middle East).

And the ferociously anti-gay record in parts of the Muslim world, where homosexual acts are sometimes punishable by death, ought to make a western liberal blanch.

As the British diver Tom Daley recently pointed out after winning the synchronised 10m Platform competition at the Gold Coast tournament, no fewer than 37 Commonwealth nations currently have anti-LGBTQ statutes: a rainbow mosaic of bigotry.

But all hell breaks loose when someone known for sporting rather than speaking prowess has a comment dug out of the depths of the Internet and plastered all over the world.

The media can even lead the way. A more constructive approach (other than sporting associations to insist their stars learn a few social manners) might be to pause a while longer before dining out on any such comments made by celebrities in the first place, and try to keep an eye on the wider picture.

Sometimes fixating on just the one chance Instagram comment isn’t just unhelpful. It can even be a bit (sorry) sinful.

Expecting the media to lead the way on sensibly dealing with things like this is probably as futile as hoping to go to heaven when you die.

23 Comments

  1. But I don’t think Folau is a pope follower.

    • Gezza

       /  April 20, 2018

      I’m not sure even the Pope’s a Pope follower these days.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 20, 2018

        Folau’s a Mormon.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  April 20, 2018

          Brian Tamaki has just joined in the fun – never miss an opportunity – and is old hat by now, anyway, stale as a school bun as Jennings says.

  2. david in aus

     /  April 20, 2018

    This is a reflection of the culture wars that is happening in the Western world. In New Zealand, the left-wing social views are predominant. Those of the left-wing try to use that dominance in the media to hammer those nails that stick out.

    Folau’s views are not outliers, it is a part of a significant segment of the community and he should have every right to describe the religious consequences of human actions.

    At this point, most commentators would say, Folau’s views are not mine as a segue into a discussion about freedom of expression. The fact that people say that is a reflection of the fear of the consequences of countering the current cultural orthodoxy. As a cultural libertarian, I will make no comment on my stance, just to say none-of-your-beeswax.

    In observing the Folau blowback: Do you get the impression that LGBTI community are oppressed or the Christians? The LGBTI community has been terribly oppressed legally and socially in the past, and I get the opinion that now the Christian community’s voice is weak, it is UTU time.

    Tolerance should be a two-way street.

    • Gezza

       /  April 20, 2018

      Ordinarily I would agree with that: I’m an ex-Catholic & I’ve met plenty of Christians who are just nice people, but any among the Christian community who express views about people going to Hell within my earshot can expect me to zero in on them to debate their religion & point out how deluded they are.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  April 20, 2018

      Socoally liberal or progressive could be substituted for left wing whereas Folau would be regarded as a social conservative.

      • Patzcuaro

         /  April 20, 2018

        Socially

      • david in aus

         /  April 20, 2018

        It is my opinion that no school of thought should be able to label themselves as Progressive.
        Progressive suggests an element of moral superiority; no wonder opponents take the mickey and rebrand Progressives as Regressives.
        I would also object to those who would label themselves as Religiously Righteous.

        Socially Liberal is acceptable but I didn’t use that deliberately. Social Liberals are usually live-let-live people and Folau’s comment would not cause such a stirring.

        Left-wing is a better term in this context as they the ones fighting the cultural wars.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  April 20, 2018

      “Cultural Libertarianism is a growing movement that basically advocates for freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression. It also tries to take down groups that prevent people from exercising the before-mentioned freedoms, especially advocates of “PC culture”.”

      Social progressives have fought hard for and sacrificed in some cases their lives to allow people to be cultural libertarians today. Under previous feudal systems the consequences of free speech were fatally if your views were unorthodox.

      Mainstream religious organizations have usually aligned themselves with the government of the day often participating in the repression of free speech

      • david in aus

         /  April 20, 2018

        “Mainstream religious organizations have usually aligned themselves with the government of the day often participating in the repression of free speech”

        I agree but we should be setting an example and not repress free-speech.

        What I find objectionable, is not the disagreement with Folau but the attempts of prosecution. Advocating the firing from his job for conventional religious views. The codification of a defacto list of acceptable and unacceptable worldviews.

        Where do we draw the line, now, and in the future?

    • david in aus

       /  April 20, 2018

      I think it is great that Gay people feel emboldened to speak out about their thoughts and feelings. But we should draw the line at prosecuting people for their religious views.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 20, 2018

        Nobody’s suggested prosecuting Israel Folau.

        He is entitled to say that he thinks being gay is wrong, he isn’t entitled to misquote the Bible to support this view.

        • David in Aus

           /  April 20, 2018

          Losing your livelihood or campaigns to do so meets the criteria for prosecution in my mind.
          “Misquoting the Bible”, I don’t agree with your comments; most Christian denominations consider homosexuality to be a sin.That is my understanding, along with adultery, murder…….etc. Catholicism preaches condoms are forbidden and that’s not in the Bible. We can have own opinions but the interpretation of Bible is up to the reader, Folau is entitled to his own view.

          Furthermore, misquoting the Book is not a significant offence in this part of the world, unlike some Islamic republics.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 20, 2018

            You seem to confuse prosecuting and persecuting.

            Not all sins are considered to be mortal ones, or Heaven would be sparsely populated !

            Misquoting the Bible for one’s own ends is a very serious thing to me. It may not be a crime, but it’s wrong to misquote any book, and to misquote the Bible is a dreadful thing to do.

            Being gay isn’t in the 10 Commandments.

            He’s entitled to his own view, he is NOT entitled to misuse the Bible to support it.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 20, 2018

            Prosecution means being charged with a crime.

            • David in Aus

               /  April 20, 2018

              You’re right, I meant persecution and not prosecution. My points still stand. I hope this does not degenerate into a discussion about semantics.

              Folau was asked about what would happen to Gay people. He didn’t quote the Bible but his understanding of it. This is not a discussion of the correct interpretation or literal words of the Bible. It has been a commentary on the relationship between religion and current societal values, politics and attitudes.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 20, 2018

              My point stands, too, that people ought not to distort the Bible.

            • Gezza

               /  April 20, 2018

              Christians have been distorting the Bible ever since it became fecking obvious the universe and the world obviously weren’t created in 6 days. Crazy stuff.

  3. Gezza

     /  April 20, 2018

    From the posted RNZ article:

    “It has been said before – by this writer, in fact – that not only sports stars but poets, critics, movie-makers, playwrights and rock performers tend to make for notably unreliable authorities on pretty much all matters outside of their chosen field (if on that).”

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/entertainment/2018/02/robbie-williams-picks-the-new-leader-of-the-national-party.html

    Time will tell.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 20, 2018

    The further religions divorce from reality the more powerful a hold they have on their victims.

  5. Any outrage about the sex attacks on those women hired for a Chiefs do?
    Or Sonny boys religion throwing gays off buildings engendered any outrage from the snow flakes ?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 20, 2018

      The stripper who made such a fuss had performed a sex act in public and been paid for it. What did she expect ?