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.

Vile Blogpost of The F—-n Year

The degree of vitriol for suggesting a different approach to dealing with some kids being hungry at school is quite surprising – and having been around the blogosphere for a few years I’ve seen a lot of political vitriol.

The Daily Blog has had blog posts on the issue, and one specifically directed at what I posted here recently. See:

These posts and some comments, as well as comments here, have been at times over the top. The Daily Blog also has a daily roundup of blog posts, and in The Daily Blog Watch Thursday 9 April they included:

Vile Blogpost of The F—-n Year

From Peter Dunne:  Dunne won’t “Feed the Kids”

To hades with your black heart, Dunne.

Remember, that’s simply because Dunne suggested something different – he disagreed with the blanket Feed the Kids bill and prefers a more targeted  approach.

But it’s not all heavy duty attack politics, there can be lighter moments.  In Why Peter Dunne won’t “Feed the Kids” a comment by Jackal:

In my opinion you, Pete George, should feel ashamed for supporting Dunne’s wretched and fasle justifications for doing nothing… Don’t be expecting to walk through the pearly gates with such an attitude.

Gotta laugh at that, being told I won’t go to heaven for not supporting a Mana Party bill. The last time I was told I won’t go to heaven was recently, for supporting the marriage equality bill.

There’s a very good reason for separating religion from politics.

God awful arguments

I’ve seen a lot of god-awful arguments (and godless-awful arguments) on blogs. And I’ve never seen anyone converted or  unconverted.

I’ve just seen this on Facebook:

I know some people will nod and smile in approval and understanding, but I think that that sums up a lot of religious argument – a quaint narrow example being used as some sort of proof of everything.

I remember one thing from bible study at school, we had an hour a week when I was in Form 1. The local vicar told a story that I have never heard of since, but our modern day Google God show’s it’s still out there in different variations:

A man died and St. Peter asked him if he would like to go to heaven or hell. The man asked if he could see both before deciding. St. Peter took him to hell first. There the man saw a big hall containing a long table, laden with many kinds of food. He also saw rows of people with pale, sad faces. They looked pale and there was no laughter. And he observed one more thing: Their hands were tied to four-foot forks and knives and they were trying to get the food from the center of the table to put in their mouths. But they couldn’t.

Then, St. Peter took him to see heaven. There he saw a big hall with a long table, and lots of food. He noticed rows of people on both sides of the table with their hands tied to four-foot forks and knives also. But here people were laughing and were well fed and healthy-looking. They were feeding one another across the table.

Four foot knives and forks seemed a really dumb idea – especially in heaven if such a place existed.

I guess it’s just very hard to explain in words what having faith is like – but they need to try some semi-believable stories.

The bit a few people skip

And if you read that properly and wondered about it,
it’s an edit (to be balanced of course) of this:

Dedicated to some of the Kiwibloggees, and other belief jerks out there.