Australians are witnesses to an unusual phenomenon: a public fightback of the little people against those with power who are attempting to destroy a public figure who spoke out by quoting a religious tract. The way our self-selected “elites” went about trying to crush rugby superstar Israel Folau for his publishing of religious verses, caused what looks like a bloody nose being given to those supposed “leaders” of community thought who tried it on.
Condemning to hell “idolators”, “atheists”, “homosexuals” and others unless they repented of their sins, Folau, a deeply religious Christian from a Pacific Islander background, upset powerful lobby groups and organisations in Australia and they, like their counterparts overseas, set out to silence him on every platform.
Not content with seeing Folau have his multi-million dollar rugby contract torn up, his decision to go to court to try and have it overturned on the grounds of religious freedom enraged them. They then began a multi-fronted attack on him, his attempted fundraising and even to attack his wife and her employment, not for her commenting on the issue, but for merely posting his fund-raising web site on her social media page.
A Familiar Campaign
It is a style of campaign that is all too familiar to people living overseas, where such attempts to financially penalise wrong-think by losing jobs, losing advertising and even attempted banishment from the public square completely, all are well known – just search “ad boycott of Fox”. While Soros-backed Media Matters for America has been dedicated to destroying Fox News for over a decade (and failing), the new scam is having computer programs where a relative handful of people use a large number of social media accounts to flood advertisers with pro-forma “complaints.” Commercial enterprises in this era don’t take long to fold, completely fooled into thinking that these “people” would even shop there let alone boycott them. The most well-known one today is the American Sleeping Giants group led by a Mark Rivitz and it has raised its head here before. Janet Albrechtson of the Australian gave it a withering assessment with which is hard to argue:-
“…Sleeping Giants despise people with different views. They talk openly about their white-hot hatred. They want people censored at least, but preferably sacked. They want to neuter the media platforms who host people with different views. And Sleeping Giants do it anonymously.”
In the Folau case, I doubt that a major campaign was even needed by groups such as Sleeping Giants, because the only group that objected to being mentioned in that religious tract by Folau has attracted its own group of enforcers for years. What had raised its head in 2017 during the plebiscite campaign for gay marriage laws was in evidence.
That vote resulted in a large majority for “Yes” and Australia got legislation to match. End of story? Er…no. Not quite. It seemed that corporations were on board to support it and push even their employees to be in favour of it. Some were even pressured to decide whether or not prominent Christians were proper people to be on their boards, hold senior positions in their companies etc. The idea of PC corporations in Australia has been noted here before, but now we have “green corporations” anti-homophobia corporations etc. Just ripe for the Folau case to break into the news cycle and for another challenger to be despatched into the shadows again.
Folau backlash & arrogance of his detractors
When Folau lost his contract, he decided to appeal on the grounds that his rights to religious freedom were being infringed. By using GoFundMe and seeking up to $3 million from that web site devoted to hosting people raising money for various causes, a furore ensued amongst the gay lobby and many other prominent “social justice” groups.
Qantas is run by a gay CEO who has led the gay-praise/pro-gay policy corporation for some years and who, with Qantas being the major sponsor of Rugby Australia, was informed instantly that action was proposed against Folau. Two other corporations, sponsoring netball in Australia and New Zealand, saw fit to notify the Netball groups that they did not approve of the “stance” of Maria Folau, a gross insult to her, seeing as she did not express any views at all, but merely listed the fund-raising phone number/web site on her social media page.
What made the criticism of Folau so different from a usual left/right or social justice/conservative divide, many sporting and political insiders also went against Folau, supposedly on the basis that he had millions so why need public donations. Folau is a man from the depressed south-western Sydney suburbs and has drawn himself to the top by his rugby skill and earned that money in his peak years, when having to accumulate the capital to tide him over for life. According to those objecting to the voluntary giving of money to fight the Folau cause, he should first lose all the money and capital he had saved in these peak years. The public being allowed to donate voluntarily was never a consideration for them.
What made the campaign against Folau such an outrage was the immediate publication of views that assumed that the opposition of the elites was the view of “the people”, that their noise was really the uprising of the people against Folau. How mistaken they were.
Elites determined that GoFundMe was not an appropriate site for Folau to raise money, that it was “a place to help sick children, not multimillionaire sportsmen”. “Social media expert” Ryan Shelley seemed typical of many:-
“the reaction to Folau’s crowdfunding campaign had been significant because it contrasted with the “Aussie battler spirit … where we’re always happy to help someone who is genuinely in need“.
“The outrage has come not so much from the underlying religious beliefs of Israel but from a mindset of this is someone who has a job that many, many people would dream of”.
Nearly 10,000 small donors giving over $700,000 to the Folau GoFundMe campaign gave the lie to those seeing their anti-Folau view as being “representative” of the people. Then, suddenly, GoFundMe dropped Folau, claiming a breach of their guidelines, even though those guidelines included religious discrimination. GoFundMe has proven in the past to have very flexible “rules”, such as when changing them to allow a denial of a fundraiser for religious cake bakers in Oregon USA.
Briefly, in the aftermath to that closure of the GoFundMe page, the Australian Christian Lobby set up a fund and in only 2 days, approximately 20,000 donors raised $2 million for Folau’s legal case and it was shut off then with donations still coming in. Many of those little people voted with their wallets and purses to show Mr Shelley just ”who” were The People, it would seem. It was the usual suspects, no doubt, who were the ones to immediately complain (unsuccessfully) about the ACL lobby using its charitable status to raise funds for that evil Folau.
Everything redefined because of Folau?
It seemed that everyone and every group got stuck in. It energised this elite cabal in extraordinary ways. GoFundMe was suddenly shown to be limited in what it could raise money for, according to these people. Previous (& even current) fundraisers for Ferraris, travel overseas and what have you, should have been discontinued immediately, according to them (they weren’t).
Even the Law Council of Australia spoke up thanks to this one case, for the first time ever, expressing a worry about the ethics of crowd funding for legal cases. The leader of it said that Australia needs a nationwide review of ethical guidance and rules regarding crowdfunding for litigation. Not only has an Australian politician (a Green though) had an active crowdfunding page for her legal action posted with GoFundMe for months without any complaint, the legal profession has used professional legal-funding organisations for years now (all taking a cut of the legal damages awarded). It was all a bit rich but “Ultimately we need to protect the public and we need to protect the processes of our courts,” Mr Moses said.”
So this is where we are right now, with Folau in limbo, but with his legal action going on and funded plus an energised public ready to watch this to the end. After a recent election in which the supposed Quiet Australians did a Trump/Brexit and sprung their world view on an unsuspecting political and media class. who knows in what state this Folau case will leave Australia. Maybe this will be a new era where slogans and “silencers” such as throwing out the various “phobia!” challenges to free expression will be treated a little more seriously and that we, as a people, will not allow elites to control the debate.