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Rugby Australia sacks Israel Falau over homophobic religious posts

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https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-11/peter-fitzsimons-responds-to-israel-folaus/10995330

Peter FitzSimons responds to Israel Folau's controversial social media post

Former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons says Israel Folau has to accept the consequences of his actions, after a highly controversial social media post by Folau condemned gays, atheists and drunks to hell.

 

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Once upon a time sporting heroes were mainly judged by their heroics on the field but not in today's era of social media.

Rugby Australia has today sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau over this Instagram post declaring that gay people and a long list of other "sinners" would burn in hell.

It's not the first time the devout Christian has sparked offence by publicly sharing his religious beliefs but this time he put Rugby Australia's major sponsor, Qantas, offside - right in the middle of negotiations for a new sponsorship deal.

A short time ago I spoke with former Wallaby, columnist and author, Peter FitzSimons.

Peter FitzSimons, the views that Mr Folau is espousing are consistent with the beliefs of evangelical Christians, conservative Catholics, of whom there are many in Australia.

Their perspective would be that he has a free speech right to proclaim his views. What do you say to that?

PETER FITZSIMONS, FORMER WALLABIES PLAYER: Of course, he has freedom of speech but there's also freedom of reaction and there's no freedom from consequences and the sober reality is that last year, when this exact same issue came up, Australian Rugby Union was overwhelmed for three weeks of people cancelling memberships, people not turning up to games, sponsors getting edgy to leave the building.

Folau was sat down, counselled, I believe it was put in his contract saying "Look, rugby is an inclusive game, we want all people to play. We can't have somebody like you saying that one section of the community is going to burn in hell."

So when he did it, when it happened last year, it was, I mean rugby in this country is on its knees. It's in bad shape and so when your most high-profile, highly paid player does something like that, there was hell to pay in Australian Rugby.

But Folau last year could have said, "Look, I wasn't aware of you know, what the policy or what the consequences were."

This year, when he wrote that thing and put it on yesterday, that was a resignation letter.

You should see the emails, the tweets and phone calls, the texts and people writing to the ARU saying, "You hear me and you hear me well. If you don't take action against this guy I won't take my children to the games, I'll burn up my membership card."

It is just overwhelming and there's just about nobody supporting him.

Of course, freedom of speech but not freedom from consequences.

LEIGH SALES: What impact would a team missing Israel Folau have on Australia's hopes in the World Cup?

PETER FITZSIMONS: Devastating, no doubt about it. He's a fantastic player.

I mean not just a good player, in fact he is not just a fantastic player. He's one out of the box.

When Folau hit rugby I think, 2013, 2014, when he first hit the line, it was like a man among boys. He was that good, that fast, that strong.

But there are more important things than winning the World Cup.

When you put that kind of stuff in the public domain, when you've got teen suicide rates of troubled teens troubled about their sexuality, there is a case to answer to say you can do that but not be a part of rugby.

We're not going to put you in a jersey, we're not going to put you on the posters, we're not going to pay you a million or $2 when you're trashing everything we stand for.

From the moment he put that up, it was the end.

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Well done. These people are (we like it or not), examples for younger kids and their words mold conciences. Sad, but true. So it's great he no longer can play there. 

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23 hours ago, karbatal said:

Well done. These people are (we like it or not), examples for younger kids and their words mold conciences. Sad, but true. So it's great he no longer can play there. 

I like the phrase that many have used.  Of course we should have freedom of speech, but with that comes freedom of consequence.  Others have the freedom to also react to hate speech with the disdain it deserves.   If famous people want to post things that discriminates and spreads hate - they have to understand that others are going to react to their bigoted, hateful comments.  How would young boys who love rugby feel reading that they will burn in hell if they are homosexual.  Inexcusable comments.  Tired of people defending bigots who should keep their hateful views to themselves. 

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I have mixed feelings about this type of arguments that I havent fully resolved.

Of course what Falau said (and thinks) is abhorrent, and he should be sacked. Even better if social media platforms ban him and the media stops reporting anything he has to say.

I support the right to free speech, which of course must come with the right of anyone else to disagree with you, or take any other action they like (such as sack you if they can).

But I get worried if the severity of those consequences means people with those views just keep them secret. I think free speech should be the basis of engaging in debate and discussion, to be able to persuade people to think about things in different ways and change their minds. I like to know what people think, especially if I disagree with them, so that I can try to change their mind. If people with extreme or stupid views just keep quiet, we will just keep getting surprised with the success of people like Pauline Hanson or (worse) Donald Trump. Or other extremists that "showed no signs of discontentment".

But then maybe thats just old fashioned of me to think that people are open to discussion. I guess more and more some people these days are just so closed minded that they wont listen to reason. But I want to be optimistic.....

And yet again, sometimes I just want to know who my enemies are...

Sadly I think this all starts with how we raise children. I was once chatting to a guy at work (over 20 years ago), who was arch-typical white middle class from Queensland. He said "It's not personal, I was just brought up to think that homosexuality is wrong". I didn't argue with his conclusion, people like this just think in a completely different frame of reference. I just said "Oh really, I was brought up to think for myself". I never spoke to him again.

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12 hours ago, Paul said:

I have mixed feelings about this type of arguments that I havent fully resolved.

Of course what Falau said (and thinks) is abhorrent, and he should be sacked. Even better if social media platforms ban him and the media stops reporting anything he has to say.

I support the right to free speech, which of course must come with the right of anyone else to disagree with you, or take any other action they like (such as sack you if they can).

But I get worried if the severity of those consequences means people with those views just keep them secret. I think free speech should be the basis of engaging in debate and discussion, to be able to persuade people to think about things in different ways and change their minds. I like to know what people think, especially if I disagree with them, so that I can try to change their mind. If people with extreme or stupid views just keep quiet, we will just keep getting surprised with the success of people like Pauline Hanson or (worse) Donald Trump. Or other extremists that "showed no signs of discontentment".

But then maybe thats just old fashioned of me to think that people are open to discussion. I guess more and more some people these days are just so closed minded that they wont listen to reason. But I want to be optimistic.....

And yet again, sometimes I just want to know who my enemies are...

Sadly I think this all starts with how we raise children. I was once chatting to a guy at work (over 20 years ago), who was arch-typical white middle class from Queensland. He said "It's not personal, I was just brought up to think that homosexuality is wrong". I didn't argue with his conclusion, people like this just think in a completely different frame of reference. I just said "Oh really, I was brought up to think for myself". I never spoke to him again.

Great points you make Paul. 

I agree that it is important to know what people are thinking as ways to discuss and debate with them.  Unfortunately though,  there seems to be a lot of people now somewhat applauding ultra extreme right wings views which includes homophobia, racism, sexism etc and seems to have make it more acceptable for these people.  Fraser Anning  for example - have read too many articles saying he has the right to free speech and supporting him and he mentioned the Final Solution. It is pretty chilling that they can still support a man that utters those words and see him as being correct.  He is also openly anti-gay and wants to overturn the yes to gay marriage vote as well.     I have noticed more and more people saying incredibly bigoted things now than say 4 years ago.   Not sure exactly but almost as if their extreme and hateful views have become more " acceptable"  now.   Probably coincides with also how many with those views are in political parties now.  

A lot of people have changed their views over the years for the better too of course.  

Agree too on the way children are raised.  If they are told and taught from a young age to be be homophobic, racist, have no respect for women etc,  they often just carry that through their life as that are the opinions they have heard since childhood.   Many do change their views but many don't.   

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