There is a very big difference between what Israel Folau has said, and blowing something up.
Is there? That's what you told me yesterday, after I raised the subject and said ultimately I couldn't back him to say whatever he likes, because my point is, where does it end? So what I got out of Folau's heartfelt and well-argued piece available at an internet near you, was he places his religious belief above his job, which is quite something, and that he's more than prepared to walk away.
I admire the conviction. But it's conviction based on biblical teachings. And if we accept you can do and say whatever you like based on biblical teachings, then why can't you go round quoting, believing and acting on any biblical teachings?
History shows us versions of this have been happening for centuries, and in that is the problem. Folau is condemned, by those who condemn, as a homophobe. Other scenarios involve war, death and violence - a lot of historic conflict is a direct reaction to religious belief and teachings.
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So what's the difference? Not a lot really, given the outcome starts at roughly the same place. Some of us, and I include myself, want to let Folau say what he likes. I like the idea of free speech, but when left to its base devices, it can turn very ugly, very quickly.
Which is why Folau is not in more trouble than he is, he has the partial protection of the Bible. And in that sense, it's not actually free speech, it's merely a reiteration of someone else's speech. He's biblically parroting. But because we give weight to the Bible, he is in part sheltered from an outcome.
If, say, I had said the same thing on my show but not backed it up with the same religious belief, that would be hate speech, and I would most likely be sacked. And if not sacked, certainly told to apologise. So if you give that level of weight and protection to religious belief, it must be applied fairly to all religious belief. And I don't think you need to be a scholar to know there is a lot of wacky activity out there masquerading as religion. Hence the comment about blowing things up.
If you're doing it in the name of a God or higher being or a belief, is that a crime or a heartfelt conviction? You see once you open the door, it's too late. Which is where Folau has to realise that, as a public figure and representative of his sport and country at the highest level, the rules change. You are not just an individual, you are part of something bigger. And that's a responsibility and/or privilege that brings restraint, containment and restriction. So if he can't, in all good conscience, accept that - then his plan to walk should have been accepted.
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