Rights vs Responsibilities

I know it’s almost un-Australian of me but I don’t follow sport. Maybe if a grand final is occurring and my state happens to be involved I might watch it. Maybe during the Olympics I’ll watch an event or two. Don’t get me wrong, I want Australia to win… I just don’t care to watch it. So it’s fair to say I almost didn’t know who Israel Folau was a few months ago.


Israel, until recently, played for the the state team and was considered one of the best Australian players. And then, like certain bakers and florists around the world, the expression of his Christian faith got him into serious trouble with a vocal minority, and given a life-ban from his career; costing him a $4 million dollar contract.

On his personal instagram he posted this:

(Only partial text is displayed. He also quoted Acts 2:38 and Acts 17:30, both from the King James Version).

This was not an official site. It was his personal site where people had to opt-in (and could just as easily, if offended, opt-out). As you peruse the comments, it’s quite clear that there have been some individuals who have long hated everything Folau stands for.

After the post, the governing body, Rugby Australia decided that Folau was guilty of a “high-level” breach of contract relating to conduct. They stated that their values were to be “inclusive”, though clearly inclusivity only extends to everyone who agrees with them.

It seems that because he was a professional player, he lost his right to express himself. Troubling for Rugby Australia, they never bothered to codify exactly what he could and could not say; which I think ought to be the onus. If they want to ensure a human being only says what they approve, they ought to provide the means by which his expression is to be filtered.

Not to mention consistency of punishment seems to be entirely absent; with some players continuing in the game despite assaults, domestic violence, drugs and drink driving.

A related issue for Rugby Australia is the perception that it has somewhat elastic standards when it comes to upholding “Wallabies values”. In recent years, two Wallabies players have been fined and stood down for drug use and possession. One of them is a two-time offender. Neither was sacked. Apparently sniffing cocaine is not a high-level breach of contract. Israel Folau doesn’t drink, doesn’t take drugs and is a model player on and off the field.

Patrick Southam, https://mumbrella.com.au/the-rugby-australia-brand-is-damned-after-the-israel-folau-ruling-578664

Folau quoted the Bible. A religious text which hasn’t changed (for Protestants) since the Reformation in 1517, and was largely responsible for the creation of Western civilization. Christians believe the Bible is God’s Word and man does not have the authority to change it, even if it contradicts modern behaviour and norms.

Folau’s intention was not to condemn, but to warn. As his own writings at Player’s Voice suggest:

I believed he was looking for guidance and I answered him honestly and from the heart. I know a lot of people will find that difficult to understand, but I believe the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear.

I think of it this way: you see someone who is about to walk into a hole and have the chance to save him. He might be determined to maintain his course and doesn’t want to hear what you have to say. But if you don’t tell him the truth, as unpopular as it might be, he is going to fall into that hole. What do you do?

Read more at https://www.playersvoice.com.au/israel-folau-im-a-sinner-too/#YHbgbLCsYPdQ6o1A.99

I’d like to say that I live in a country with freedom of religion, free from persecution. Including persecution by an angry mob of keyboard warriors, an employer, the media, or the State.

I’d like to expect that everyone has freedom of speech, as long as you don’t threaten or incite violence.

I’d like to suggest that an employer’s rights over an employee have limits. When an employer tries to supersede someone’s individuality or religious freedoms, the contract should be unenforceable.

As Folau takes legal action, I guess we’ll see if I live in such a country.

In my view Folau did nothing wrong. He expressed his religious beliefs with integrity. Some people were offended by those views. And that’s exactly where it should have ended. In a sane world he should have lost a few Instagram followers, not his entire livelihood.

To end with Folau’s own words:

“I have love towards everyone that might be saying negative things … I choose to love them because God loves me.”



World-Building: Society

I’ve added a new sub-page to the World-Building section called Society.

The purpose of the World-Building section is to give tidbits of information which will get the writerly juices flowing in the future. Do you have anything you can contribute?

From Ancient Rome: The Republic:

In or out. Patricians were the son of somebody important, and they, and their peers, were the true sons of Rome. The plebian was an outsider, with few rights or privileges. Before the time of Servius, the whole weight of public duty – military service and war tax – fell to the Patricians, under the principle “that the duty of defending the State ought to fall heaviest on those who had the most to defend.” (page 43)

“In the vigorous youth of their nation the Romans knew how to combine the advantages of city and country life. The mere farmer, who spends all his days in tilling the soil, is generally a dull and half-savage creature, cut off from the higher wants and the higher instincts of a civilized man. The mere citizen, whose life is a perpetual violation of all natural laws, inevitably stunted and deformed alike in body and in mind. The primitive Romans avoided both of these extremes … He looked to the land for his support, and spent most of his time in the free air and wholesome activities of the fields. But he was also a citizen, who from the earliest times had some voice at least in the national affairs; and after the establishment of the Republic he might rise to the command of armies and the highest offices of State.” (page 53)

Government. Two rulers known as Consuls took turns governing the nation, one day each, for a period of a year.

Help! A Dictator could be appointed in times of national crisis by decree of the Senate, who would rule with absolute power for six months. The right of appeal was suspended while he was in office. Originally used to confront an invader, the Dictatorship later became a tool of the Patricians to clamp down on commoner dissension.

Land rights. Technically most land was owned by the State, and rented to tenants. But tradition, passed the land from father to son, or could be sold.

Home Life

“But with the Romans home was a sacred name … Nor was the tie broken by death, for the spirits of the beloved dead still hovered round the familiar hearth, watching with affectionate care over those who remained, shielding them from every evil influence … And thus the name of home received a spiritual significance…” (page 54)

It’s good to be King. The father was the head of the home, the bread-winner. All members of the family looked to the father. The king is the father of his people, and the father is a kind in his own household. The father was almost a despot, being able to punish or kill his son. The son was effectively worse off than a slave. A slave, once given freedom, was a free man conversely the son had to be “freed” three times before he was a free man.

Power Restrained. The unlimited power of the Father over his household was restrained by social tradition.

“The feeling that every man owes a duty to society and that no important step ought to be taken without consulting the opinion of others was a deeply rooted conviction in the Roman mind, which no one could defy with impunity. Before inflicting any severe punishment on an erring member of his household the Roman was under the obligation of summoning a family council, and though the ultimate decision lay with him the opinion of the assembled relatives could not lightly be disregarded.” (page 58)

“The man who beats his wife or children, is guilty of sacrilege against the holiest of things.” Cato (page 59).

Wed ’til dead. Marriage was a sacrament and indissoluble. The husband had full control over the wife, for the rest of her life. The breach of the marriage vow was heinous and unpardonable – punished by death.

“So stern were the laws by which these old Romans sought to guard the sanctity of marriage, regarding this as the source of all public and private good, which must at any cost be secured against contamination. And so effectual were the safeguards thus provided that for more than five centuries divorce was unknown among them. … As the mode of life became softer and more luxurious the standard of domestic purity sank lower and lower, and a general licence ensued, which defied all efforts of legislators and all the declamations of moralists.” (page 57).