If the media disagrees, why are we offering Folau a pulpit?

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.

Folau’s nonsense from behind a pulpit is a scandal that oft repeats, as does the outrage that follows. We’re trapped in a loop.

Back in June, 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”.

Yesterday, The Australian carried the news that Folau celebrated the timing of the bushfires, believing that they were a direct result of the country legalising same-sex marriage and abortion.

“You have changed the law and changed the ordinance of these things,” he said. “Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short ­period of time. You think it is a ­coincidence or not?

“They have changed that law and legalised same-sex marriage and now those things are OK in society, going against the laws of what God says. Abortion — it is OK now to murder and kill infants, unborn children, and they think that to be OK,” Folau said.

Interestingly, both outbursts came from behind the same pulpit, the Truth of Jesus Christ Church in Kenthurst”.

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 June’s mandate, one passed down from the Vatican last week, one that exclusively stated there were 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.

Another great figure of social media power, but little actual standing is Lyle Shelton. His greatest hits involve railing against the plebiscite, the socialists that run Victoria, and sharing a table with some local members of “Proud Boys” movement, stating that they weren’t Nazis, they were very good boys.

 

 

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. 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 either in law or of public opinion, so why are we elevating his sermon? The matter should be closed.

If his words are so damaging, why are we continually repeating them?

The rehashing of Folau’s point is now masturbation, nothing more.

 

 

 

 

 

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