As the dust settles on the Israel Folau saga, the real question is not whether Israel received $4 million or $8 million. It is not whether Raelene “I’m-A-Great-Leader” Castle keeps her job either.
The real question is this: has any of the effort put in to protect freedom changed anything?
And this is the answer: no. No. NO.
The stone, cold reality is that all the Folau saga has proven is that if you quote from the Bible, you will lose your job.
Because Folau has lost his job.
This reality is best outlined in an article on this controversy by the Sydney Traditionalist Forum:
Given the questions raised by this controversy (freedom of speech, public religious expression, the extent and enforceability of corporate speech codes on private conduct) it should have been an objective of Folau’s backers to have these ventilated in a court of law. Instead, current outcome offers no resolution, no precedent, and in no way has it secured the civil liberties of people who fall out of favour with Acceptable Opinion. The frontlines of the Culture War have moved precisely nowhere.
Indeed, the fact that Acceptable Opinion on matters relating to sexual morality has not suffered a dent to its hegemony can only be interpreted by the right-minded as a de facto win for the ideological left.
In other words, this is not what victory looks like.
Sure, it’s fun making jokes about Raelene Castle and it seems likely from all the media reporting that Folau has been paid something to disappear.
But so what? This only proves that, if the administration is incompetent and you have a high profile, you might get something to go away. But you will still be exiled.
It’s hardly comfort for the quiet Australians who simply cannot muster anything like the media coverage or support that Israel Folau did.
The reality is that, quite apart from not being a victory, this was also a massive lost opportunity.
I was inspired by Israel Folau’s courage. In fact, I was the very first person to donate to his campaign, although this was by mere coincidence. I just happened to stumble on the Sydney Morning Herald article reporting that his campaign had been set up about 30 seconds after it was published.
And many others were inspired too. Australians sent a river of gold to help him wage this battle. This money flowed because the impression was given that Folau was not just fighting for himself but for all of us. And Folau’s profile meant that this fight would be highly public.
For the first time in a long time, it looked like we had a shot at victory.
With the public support, financial muscle and media spotlight, Folau’s case was an opportunity for those on the side of freedom to actually win an important battle against an incompetent and totalitarian regime.
It was an opportunity to do something that would help all of us into the future.
But that battle has been avoided.
Good luck getting all of those conditions in place again.
Whatever happens post-Folau, you can bet your bottom dollar that the new codes of conducts and contracts that start flying around will make it even harder for the next person caught in the sight of ‘Thought Police’ to defend themselves.
But, you might say, Folau has pointed out that the new Religious Discrimination laws coming our way will help.
Actually, they won’t. On this point Folau is dead wrong.
If those laws were in place, they would have made it easier for Rugby Australia to defend its decision in court to sack Israel Folau. These laws will only make a bad situation worse.
We need these proposed laws like we need a hole in the head. The very fact that these laws will put the protection of Christian Australians in the hands of the anti-discrimination industry should send us all into a cold sweat.
However, given all of this, I still understand the pressure on Israel Folau more than most. I know what it is like to go through the legal wringer. I have been in it since 2013 and will be back in court in February next year.
The decision to settle, with the money on the table, in many ways was a sensible one for Folau personally, although I do believe that his apology was terrible in principle and practice. But, regardless, this settlement does not help the rest of us.
Folau still must face the anti-discrimination industry too given the perpetually offended and serial litigant Garry Burns has now lodged a complaint against him. Folau must fight that complaint and it would be a complete betrayal of all of us if he chose to settle that legal issue too.
I have no idea where this complaint will go. Based on what has been deemed ‘vilification’ in the past, it will not be an easy fight for Folau to win. However, to be honest, I would not be surprised if the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board ‘manages’ to decide, for once, that Burns’ latest complaint is, cough, vexatious.
After all, it comes just days after he launched a fundraiser to stave off bankruptcy resulting from his failed High Court challenge against me.
Plus the Anti-Discrimination Board does its best work when it picks on the fringes: the brain-damaged, the insane and the outcasts. It probably doesn’t have the bravery to bear the scrutiny that Burns’ complaint against Folau will bring.
That I could hold as possible two completely different outcomes in this matter merely demonstrates the flaws of this entire area of law. It is chaotic, political, arbitrary and subject to the whims of those in positions of power. There is no principle in it at all.
If the complaint does go ahead, I would not be surprised either to see the ‘unbiased’ Kate Eastman representing Burns. After all, she has represented him previously in cases which have revolved around argument about the content of the Bible.
And who is she? Why, she’s just one of the Rugby Australia tribunal members that found Folau ‘guilty’. Her bias and role in this process should have been raised in court.
But it wasn’t. And now the irony is that, even if Kate Eastman doesn’t appear for Burns, her previous work is still likely to be used in his complaint against Folau.
That is another massive missed opportunity which may come back to bite Folau hard.
Finally, I cannot but lament the lost opportunity that my legal action against the Chief of Defence Force has become.
Like Folau, I was sacked for offending the LGBT mafia for comments that I made in my own spare time and in my own private capacity.
Unlike Folau, however, every ‘workplace’ investigation into my private behaviour found in my favour (and there were 14 of them, all brought against me following complaints or lobbying from gay and transgender activists inside Defence).
On top of that, Defence even had to fork out $25,000 to my father along the way for the abuse he copped from the most senior transgender officer in the military (Defence refused to investigate my complaint about this matter).
Despite all of this, I was still sacked. And my termination notice admitted that I was a high performing officer but, you know, diversity yada yada.
I fought my termination in the courts with almost no institutional support (you might want to ask certain organisations why that is) and with very little media attention. Despite all the odds, I won the first case. This only occurred because ordinary Australians rallied to help me.
Unfortunately, Defence won on appeal. For legal reasons, I cannot state publicly my full views on this decision. However that decision has been heavily criticised in academia, legal commentary and even in the media.
But that is cold comfort to me and it should be cold comfort for all Australians. Now we must all live with a precedent that it is legally permissible to sack someone, even if they have done nothing wrong, because of their private views.
My great regret about this case is not so much that we lost. It is that I have no doubt that we would have won if there was institutional support and a willingness by the ‘mainstream’ conservative organisations to back the fight in 2014.
Sixty-odd investigations and court cases later, I still remain enmeshed in litigation for my views on marriage, family and morality without institutional support.
This is the reality for ordinary Australians caught up in situations like Folau’s. There’s no cameras. There’s no support network. There’s no fanfare. You are left to fight by yourself, pay by yourself and in the hope that your family will be able to manage the stress, anguish and pain.
Indeed, I am one of the lucky ones. I have somehow managed to build a much wider support network of ordinary Australians and I am extremely grateful to each one of you who reads this, prays for me and contributes to the fight. Most other people do not even have this to help them through.
Now Defence is pursuing me for almost $750,000 in legal costs. It has already spent almost $30,000 just preparing its costs claims against me when it knows that it can’t wring much more than $1,500 out of me.
Everything I owned has already been consumed in this battle.
As taxpayers, you should all be outraged that the Chief of Defence Force is so wantonly and maliciously wasting your money for absolutely no purpose at all.
I suppose it’s small change for a large organisation – especially when it is funded by you and me – but it highlights exactly how difficult it is for ordinary Australians to build the firepower that they need to defend themselves.
Israel Folau had the chance to do something really great for Australia. But he didn’t seize the moment.
For once, all the elements for a successful fight were in place. But that firepower has not been used. Instead, it is now being de-stockpiled.
And that means we are all now relying on some unknown little person to have the courage to fight a harder battle sometime in the future. And then, somehow, to win it.
We are looking for a miracle. Like I said, this is not what victory looks like…