Flat White

Will our new moral police ever stop harassing Israel Folau?

19 February 2020

5:05 PM

19 February 2020

5:05 PM

Israel Folau is no longer allowed to play sport in Australia—of every sporting code—and so he has been forced to take up a contract overseas. But that hasn’t stopped a hostile media from relentlessly pursuing him to create a story even when there isn’t one. Take for instance, this hit piece by the Australian Associated Press published in Yahoo Sport Australia provocatively titled: “Investigation Launched into ‘disgusting’ new Israel Folau Drama”. 

It makes the reader ask themselves, “What’s he done this time! Has he learnt nothing about his social responsibilities?” But the truth of it is… nothing. Except of course if you include that he scored a try with his very first touch of the ball – a fact that even the militantly LGBTIQ Sydney Morning Herald had to begrudgingly admit adding that Folauhad French supporters on their feet every time he touched the ball in Perpignan”. 

But that was only the half of it. According to the more unbiased journalistic reporting Fox Sports: 

Israel Folau may have been expecting a slightly hostile reception for his rugby league comeback, but his home crowd treated him to a hero’s welcome.

The Catalans Dragons supporters filled the ground with chants of “Izzy! Izzy!” as Folau crossed to score a dream debut try after just five minutes.

The former Wallaby … was mobbed by teammates as he celebrated his first points as a Super League star.

He then received a warm reception on full-time, holding his hands up to the crowd, giving them a clap and a thumbs up in recognition.

He then wandered around the ground to mingle with fans, stopping to take selfies and chatting with supporters.

Oh my goodness! What hate-filled, homophobic behaviour! Fancy someone as ‘bigoted’ as Folau receiving a “hero’s welcome”? And what’s with the crowd chanting his name? They must be bigots too! But then to top it all off, the guy has the audacity to gratefully acknowledge the crowds support, “mingling with fans, stopping to take selfies and chatting with supporters”. This is why—note, sarcasm ahead—Peter Beattie was right to forbid to play him here. That kind of behaviour is just completely at odds with current culture of Australian rugby league. 

But not content to let anyone hold to a different point of view, Yahoo Sports Australia confected outrage even where there was none. For there was apparently one lone protestor who decided to try and make a political statement by bringing a rainbow flag to the game, but was asked to put it away because it was against club policy.  

Here’s a screenshot of what she tweeted, although strangely, it has since been deleted. 

Whatever happened to just going to ground to watch the game? Why does everything now have to be so political? And why can’t LGBTIQ people just accept that not everyone agrees with their sexual proclivities? Not celebrating your particular lifestyle doesn’t mean that people hate you. It’s just that they have a difference of opinion. 

What has become clear, though, is that LGBTIQ activists will accept nothing by unquestioning affirmation and support. And if you dare to disagree, then they will not only persecute you out of the public square but also pursue you to the very ends of the earth. 

Meanwhile, according to The Australian, Rugby Australia, under the hapless leadership of Rayleen Castle, looks set to walk away from its $285 million and twenty-five-year broadcasting partnership with Fox Sports. This is because crowd numbers are perilously low, TV ratings dismal and every Australian super rugby team winless against foreign teams so far this year. 

Does anyone still truly believe that they did the right thing in getting rid of Folau? Well, it will obviously come as no surprise that Peter FitzSimons still does. In The Sydney Morning Herald at the beginning of February, Pirate Pete falsely prophesied: 

Waratahs and Wallabies. Will both rise this year, and do better than last year… But, how can I be so sure that Australian rugby will rise? Because, friends, in recent times they could hardly have got much worse, yes? Speaking of which …

Catalans rugby league team. Will struggle with the Folau signing. Yes, this is not much of a prediction when it is already happening before our eyes, but I can’t resist. After Folau put up his second successive homophobic tweet last April, an enormously powerful dynamic came into play that swept him not just from the Wallabies, but also all the other Super rugby franchises and also the NRL. Qantas and other sponsors ran screaming from the room rather than be associated with him. Now, a year later, that dynamic no longer applies? Not on your nelly. It is still there, as Catalans have already found out, and is likely to get a whole lot stronger as other Super League clubs meet in protest, talking possible legal action against the damage done to the code. Watch this space.

Oh, dear. Yes, we’re all watching. But it seems to be not working out as the FitzSimons so confidently predicted. For just like Peter Van Onselen, the Red Rag Man has just activated his journalistic super-power of the Kiss-of-Death. 

Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.

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