This morning, the words of Israel Folau hit the front pages. If we’re so opposed to his message, at what point do we stop magnifying it?
I see the irony of a news outlet asking other news outlets to stop covering an issue by discussing it, but I think it is high time we stop offering Israel Folau a pulpit. We’re all guilty of it, as I believe that the Folau issue has now moved from discussing the issue to merely profiting from it.
Per The Guardian, “Israel Folau has used a sermon at his Sydney church to describe homosexuality as a sin and criticise young people being allowed to “change their gender”. In a video posted to his church’s Facebook page, the former rugby union star claimed the devil was behind primary schoolchildren being allowed to decide if they wanted to change gender. “They are allowing young kids in primary school, to be able to have the permission to change their gender if they want, by taking away the permission of their parents,” Folau said the Truth of Jesus Christ Church in Kenthurst.”
Now I’m not singling them out, as the same information has spread across the pages of numerous publications, with SBS, Sky News, News.com.au and Fairfax all running the content, with the latter also referencing Margaret Court’s paranoia that “the devil is after our children”.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t call out the hurtful negativities in our society, but in constantly magnifying them, it does far more damage than the handful of parishioners who agreed with the message ever could.
Folau is a particularly easy target. He’s a dead horse that flogs itself. He’s forthright with his views that many of us don’t agree with. He’s sure to get a reaction, so onward we roll to type up near-identical versions of the same copy. However, this inability to resist headline and discuss the root causes has placed the media in the situation we find ourselves in. We’re dealing with a crisis of conscience because our validity is being called into question. We need clicks and shares, and we cannot afford to be the last on an issue. We don’t stop to think that we should, as we assume another already has.
You could argue that Folau was following the mandate passed down from the Vatican last week, one that exclusively states there are two genders, and nothing else. But, we are angrier with Folau than we are the pontiff. He’s ours, he’s our responsibility. The deification of Folau as an antagonist is yet another example of us gorging on the low hanging fruit. “Stupid footballer says more stupid things” is an easy headline that is hard to ignore.
Last week, Lyle Shelton appeared on social media, sharing a table with some local members of “Proud Boys” movement, stating that they weren’t Nazis, they were very good lads.
Good to catch up with the Proud Boys at the Mt Gravatt Bowls Club. Contrary to popular opinion they are not Nazis, just blokes who are sick of all the PC nonsense. pic.twitter.com/llLYnCcdTF
— Lyle Shelton (@LyleShelton) June 13, 2019
He also had a bone to pick with My Little Pony, railing against the inclusion of a same-sex coupling in the cartoon. SBS, Junkee, Pedestrian TV and QNews carried stories on it, and the Proud Boys episode resulted in an extreme response on Twitter, with the reaction for both issues following the same tone: check out what that idiot Lyle did now.
Lyle’s party, the Australian Conservatives, carried 0.6% of the vote in the NSW state election. As far as social media traction goes, they’re punching far above their weight. They’re able to do this, because they want us to hit them. You can’t buy outrage, but you can manufacture it.
Which brings me back to this morning. Should the views made to a small audience that agrees be magnified to a larger one that doesn’t? We understand Folau’s views and his stance. We know that he doesn’t have a prayer in court, so why are we elevating his sermon? The matter should be closed. We’re not learning anything new.
If his words are so damaging, why are we continually repeating them? The rehashing of Folau’s point is now masturbation, nothing more.