This is it. Rugby Australia’s and Israel Folau’s joint press release announcing they’d reached a confidential settlement called it.
And the end of all the gibber about wishing each other the best and not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, there was the word that, hopefully, means the last we’ll hear of the great thumping bible-basher, at least on the back pages of our daily gazettes.
And that word was: ends.
Finito. Done and done. End of.
And ain’t that some happy hand relief.
Or so you’d think.
Because there I was down the coffee shop and there’s the usual Table of Knowledge banging on about the talking points they’ve read in the Daily Terror that morning, and though these are rugby people it’s clear they don’t believe Israel Folau did anything wrong by publicly spouting his homophobic nonsense because you’re allowed, apparently, to spout homophobic nonsense if it’s under the guise of one’s religion, and thus under freedom of speech laws which make anything you say okay long as you read it an ancient book.
Because Religion. Because Freedom of Speech. Because of that hoary old chestnut Political Correctness Gone Mad (it’s always going mad, PC).
And so all that rubbish that applies when you don’t see why someone else would be offended by something because your empathy finishes at your own experience, and that’s how it should be for everyone else.
And thus! If Israel’s telling gay people they’re not allowed into his holy pantheon in the sky because of his interpretation of the rules as decreed in the great thumping book of medieval life-laws, and as a public figure he shoots out that dogma because… I don’t even know where that paragraph is going. So stuff it.
Anyway! So the old boys down the café, in the mode of Quiet Australians who want everyone to know what they reckon, and stuff ’em, were effectively declaring they don’t give a stuff about gay people taking offence especially if Israel said it under the guise of his religion, it’s cool because freedom of speech.
And it’s extra cool because it’s not PC and it’s okay to say things that other people don’t like because stuff ’em. We used to call it manners. Now it’s stuff ’em.
Yes! Another Israel Folau column! How are you enjoying it? Feel like you’ve read it all before? You probably have. Because it’s been a vexed issue, and it’s good to work out why, and this will be my last ever one unless Israel does play rugby league again, though that is looking unlikely.
But then Andrew Johns played cricket for NSW, and Israel played Aussie rules in the west, and… no.
It won’t happen.
Not in Australia, anyway.
Why not? Look – Israel’s views, religious and non-PC though they may be, don’t mesh with modern Australia’s which don’t punch down on gay people because like the meek in The Life of Brian they’ve had a hell of a time for generations stretching back millennia.
Don’t believe it? Think of it this way: If Israel had said – and he sort of did, but no-one knows what an idolater is, so everyone sort of brushed it – but imagine if Israel had said this:
“Jews are going to hell unless they repent the sin of being Jewish!”
Imagine he’d done that on Insta however many years ago it is now.
We would not be having this conversation. I would not be writing this column. Because Israel would have been gone baby. Gone.
Immediately. No freedom of speech rhetoric. Nothing about PC going mad. He’s just gone.
If he says Jews are bound for hell because they’re not good enough to get into heaven, he’s not getting any empathy from the old diggers, or anyone else.
People just don’t do anti-Semitism because, well, they don’t. It goes back a bit. And it goes back as far as persecution of gays goes. Indeed gays and Jews play rugby against each other in the Barbara Streisand Cup and share a bond.
So Israel can’t damn Jews to hell, or Catholics, or women or disabled people. Well, he can. But he can expect a backlash.
Don’t believe it?
Remember that England football coach, Glenn Hoddle, said disabled people were disabled because they did something in a previous life and were being punished for it in this one? Being disabled was karma, according to Glenn Hoddle, and out the door like a bag of old prawn heads he went.
Champion footballer. Excellent coach. But you can’t say that. And if you do, even under the guise of your religion, you’re clearly a loon and out the door you go.
But apparently, still, among the old boys at the cafe, and thousands of others, including those of you priming keyboards as we speak to rebut the left-wing sensibilities of this gibber-jabber, sledge the gays and it’s cool and the gang.
Anyway Israel’s gone, baby, gone, and is not rugby’s problem anymore. And he can hang out in the Hills (District) and thump that pulpit, and damn whoever he likes to hell and we’ll all just pass our proverbial beer nuts and think that Captain Preachy Greedy Guts can take a flying dud root at the moon because he’s no longer speaking as a rugby man, if he ever even was one.
Reckon he was one? Whatever it means?
He did once say he’d never do anything to hurt rugby, and that if he ever was hurting rugby he’d stop it at once. Then he kept on banging on with his inflammatory gibber, and modern Australia – not, admittedly, represented by the old boys in the café – was suitably aghast, and weirded out, and sorry for him, and a few other things mainly concerned with wondering just what sort of mad boomers are leaping about in the big fullback’s top paddock.
Not okay boomers, my tip.
Anyway, he’s off to a footy version of purgatory, and it’s time to see if he possesses any sort of irrelevance syndrome from no longer being a famous footy man but rather Australia’s most famous homophobe outside Fred Nile and Bob Katter and other doom-and-gloomers with paddocks full of mad loose boomers.
Will he play again?
Footy? I would say never.
Never say never? Maybe. The Daily Telegraph represents plenty of readers who don’t see the fuss in what Israel said because religion, freedom of speech, and other markers they didn’t apply when Yassmin Abdel-Magied very politically incorrectly said “Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)” on Anzac Day a few years ago.
So she deleted it and wrote: “It was brought to my attention that my last post was disrespectful, and for that, I apologise unreservedly”.
LNP backbencher, free speech warrior and cultural attache to the strip bars of Manila George Christensen tweeted that: “Yasmin [sic] should no longer on the public broadcaster’s tax-funded payroll. Self-deportation should also be considered”.
But that is another story.
In this one, the Tele may proselytise that Israel should come back to rugby league because it wasn’t that bad.
And the NRL may reflect and genuflect that yes, we could swing that.
Be it would be a tough gig getting a float to go up Oxford Street for their Gayme On promotion with Israel a paid-up member of the code, indeed people would ping fruit at it.
And nobody wants that.
And rugby will think, again, whatever we secretly paid the poor mad bastard, it was worth it.