The loss of our public mind, rugby and Israel Folau

Yes, this is a free speech matter.


Israel Folau is sticking to his guns no matter what it costs the embattled Wallabies star. NZ Herald – Rugby: ‘It’s a tough time’ – Israel Folau breaks his silence

What we know so far

Mr Folau has spoken his mind, enunciating beliefs (right or wrong) in common with most of the populace a few short decades ago that we revered for centuries.

Despite the fact that one or two of his beliefs are now widely deprecated, there are no reports that people were harmed by hearing them. On the contrary, newsreaders and news readers alike behaved normally.

On Wednesday night Folau posted to his Instagram account:

hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators — adding they should “repent”.

Many of us were distracted by a few of those occupations but nobody, to my knowledge, is supporting thieves, liars, drunks or atheists (atheists, it is widely acknowledged, maintain their anti-scientific position in the absence of evidence).

The ascent of a general consensus that our highest civic duty lies in avoiding by our speech the slightest distress to a live person has reached, one would think, its zenith. For flexibility it’s as useful as granite, thus people do not so much break this new rule of conduct as they break themselves on the rule. Whether by reason of inadvertent candour, an ebullient assertiveness, attempts at comedy or mere accident, men and women continue to suffer ferocious penalties—fined or jailed, their reputations ruined, their jobs lost.

A cudgel for this?

Behind this new civic duty to avoid offence there seems an implacable force. But in this rugby/sexuality fracas there are two other forces.

  1. Mr Folau is sticking by his comments.
  2. Folau is essential to the Wallabies’ hopes of beating the All Blacks and winning the World Cup in a few months.

Those forces may well be irresistible. Certainly, between them, something must give. It is therefore possible that this ignorantly stubborn grip we have taken on an absurdly fragile sense of outrage might be forced to abate, rather than either ostentatiously breaking the speaker or watching the Wallabies yet again succumb to the mighty All Blacks.

It is only speech

We cannot have  a decent discourse on significant public issues such as human rights, education, religion, abortion, immigration and the rest except we stop hoisting “proper” thinking to the top of the flagpole. Because once it’s there it stays put. So if you disagree with somebody, hurl a well-thought piece of cutting wit, don’t pick up the primitive cudgel of YOU’RE-NOT-ALLOWED-TO-SAY-THAT. The illiberal ones who use it lack imagination for alternatives.

Yes, words offend, as they eventually will if you speak honestly, but they do no actual harm. We can all bear it and we might all learn something by hearing thoughtfully creative arguments against or supporting the offence caused.

Prisons of thought

Free speech affects us all, even those outside the orbit of the present argument, hence my interest in canvassing your thoughts on this. If any imagine this global warming blog goes astray on the Israel Folau/Australian Rugby matter, be assured that this freedom to speak here is directly threatened by that ridiculous dispute over there.

Note that the professional offence-takers would never abandon their black-hearted identity politics. That means, sadly, they cannot see the difference between their twisted agenda and real science. In attacking anyone for their wrong thought or speech they create prisons of thought throughout society.

In their darkness, they imagine they censor the deprecatory remarks of others for scientific reasons.

They deserve our rebuke.

12 Thoughts on “The loss of our public mind, rugby and Israel Folau

  1. Simon on April 15, 2019 at 8:17 pm said:

    Israel Folau has signed a contract which presumably contains social and formal media obligations.
    Australian rugby also has obligations to sponsors which will cover what their employees are allowed to do and say. This is an employment matter, nothing more or less. Israel can argue the right for free speech in an employment dispute but he is also bound by terms of his employment contract.

    Atheists, it is widely acknowledged, maintain their anti-scientific position in the absence of evidence.
    That’s an odd thing to say. Richard Dawkins would argue the complete opposite.

  2. Man of Thessaly on April 15, 2019 at 11:01 pm said:

    Atheists, it is widely acknowledged, maintain their anti-scientific position in the absence of evidence.
    I also thought that was the oddest thing in this piece. The absence of evidence for a god or gods is precisely why many people (including myself) are atheists. In what way is that “anti-scientific”, Richard?

  3. Richard Treadgold on April 16, 2019 at 2:45 pm said:

    Hi MoT,

    I should confess that I threw atheists (long may they prosper) in with liars and thieves in an impudent twist of your tails; but it’s a good question.

    As you know, science teaches that our beliefs should follow the evidence and, to my knowledge, there is no evidence for the absence of god, which negates the atheist’s appeal to reason. Also, with profound care and infinite patience, science describes natural processes that endlessly reshape substances and energies, immersing us in the knowledge that everything we encounter is the culmination of an ancient chain of creation that appears quite unfinished. Science, in short, declares firmly that everything is created by something — that everything has a precursor.

    Here lies the first crime of atheism: that it affirms the lack of a precursor for the whole universe, despite the regrettable lack of evidence.

    I have long taken the view that the best evidence for the existence of a creator is the undeniable presence of the universe. Believing in science, it is implausible that something comes from nothing—much less that everything comes from nothing.

    My thinking derives from Vedanta and is beautifully summarised by this expression attributed (which I did not know) to William Hazlitt:

    “That which is not, shall never be; that which is, shall never cease to be. To the wise, these truths are self-evident.”

    I’ve found this unresponsive to rebuttal.

  4. Maggy Wassilieff on April 16, 2019 at 7:37 pm said:

    For those of you that have been following the Court Case of Professor Peter Ridd who was sacked from James Cook University, Queensland for querying the research of those who had stated that the Great Barrier Reef was dying…

    He has just won his court case.
    The Judge has found that:
    (1) The 17 findings made by the University, the two speech directions, the five confidentiality directions, the no satire direction, the censure and the final censure given by the University and the termination of employment of Professor Ridd by the University were all unlawful.

    https://jennifermarohasy.com/2019/04/peter-ridd-has-won-because-of-you/

  5. Richard Treadgold on April 16, 2019 at 8:27 pm said:

    Thanks, Maggy. Great news.

  6. Brett Keane on April 17, 2019 at 7:42 am said:

    Peter has a win for free speech. Israel faces a loss. He threatens no one physically. The same-sex mindset he speaks against is actually possessed by about one percent of people. (According to the Otago Longitudinal Study, recognised as the World’s best). We know, if we are awake to it, that we all need forgiveness for our imperfect actions/thoughts. Ask Israel,and he should say the same if he knows his stuff properly.
    The Christian message of liberation shows a simple pathway that does work. But the Marxist pathway has known and deadly results, followed as it is by our trolls for instance. Such people certainly wish harm upon Israel, as is their wont. Well, they are losing now with Peter Ridd, at least….. Brett Keane

  7. Brett Keane on April 17, 2019 at 9:09 am said:

    Next, Murry Salby, perhaps? Brett

  8. Brett Keane on April 17, 2019 at 9:19 am said:

    RT, yes. I long ago realised that our inability to comprehend the conundrum of things never existing then being started, and How?, is a sign of our limitations (fleshly, if you like). Obviously at this point, because both cannot be true so far as we can figure, there are things beyond us (for now?).. So we should be humble…… Brett

  9. Richard Treadgold on April 17, 2019 at 9:49 am said:

    Good points, Brett, thank you. The main drift of the post concerns free speech. In the Folau case we encounter lopsided versions of it from both him and his critics, but the principle bestows freedom of speech on everyone without distinction. Let me remind you it is the freedom to offend, or it is nothing. Our left-wing activists are loud in claiming the freedom not to be offended, apparently ignorant that they alone are masters of their feelings.

    I was just now reminded of the importance of enlightened people sticking together by an article from Niall Ferguson in the Sunday Times (reposted in today’s GWPF newsletter) detailing the growing toll on conservative thinkers of the campaign to discredit them.

    Ah, yes, humility … something to excel in.

  10. DavidW on April 17, 2019 at 7:29 pm said:

    Israel wrote his own take on the incident. (His article does not show up when I search for it on Google. Only the criticisms. Interesting.)
    I found it very revealing about his character and his motives – both seem very honourable to me, no matter what his opinions are. I recommend reading it…
    https://www.playersvoice.com.au/israel-folau-im-a-sinner-too/#2ELRUli6XBvIBfcx.01

  11. Thanks Maggie W for bringing the Peter Ridd Court Case to the attention of the readers of climateconversation .
    I have been searching New Zealand news sites since I read about it on the net yesterday .
    There has been no mention as far as I can see in New Zealand .
    Our news paper published a cartoon of the world in a frying pan and I thought it was very funny .
    What a lot of jerks ,trying to sway public opinion with their fear mongering of runaway global warming ,
    As for Israel Folau I have heard that his bosses told him not to tweet anti gay messages again but they did not put it in writing or asked him to sign it .
    Therefore Rugby Australia have no case to sack him under employment law.

  12. Brett Keane on April 18, 2019 at 9:41 pm said:

    RT, quite agree. Free Speech it is, that is at risk. Folk are arrested now in UK even for normal vigourous speech you would hear in Parliament, as hate speech. Now Israel here and Labour looking at similar with one mad Aussie as pretext. Much depends on Winston again. At least he stopped CGT and fully understands our “unwritten Constitution” and all that backs it up. Shaw is playing hell with the submissions process, eliminating our input and having a serious go at us country folk. Between Red and Green, nastiness may come to a head, we shall see soon….. Folk who are fed by others may be in for a shock, they having enough full supplies in the pipeline for a few days only. Broken Markets go ballistic quickly so stay awake. Brett

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