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Dr Muriel Newman

Muzzling Free Expression

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A hallmark of a free society is the liberty of its citizens to express their views without fear of recrimination. New Zealand was once that society, but not so today. 

The enemies of free expression are everywhere. These are the extremists who, having failed to convince others through the strength of their argument, are willing to use force to impose their ideologies. This can occur at many levels – in the case of Islamic fundamentalists, their violent threats over-ride national sovereignty.

In 1987, Rudi Carrell, a popular comedian on German television, did a sketch poking fun at Iran’s leader. The Ayatollah Khomeini had introduced strict sharia law forbidding women from showing their bodies, so the comedian depicted them throwing underwear at his feet.

The Ayatollah claimed that by offending him, the skit offended Muslims around the world. There were violent protests, consulates were closed, diplomats were expelled, and death threats were issued against the comedian. Fearing for his life, Rudi Carrell apologised and was given police protection.  

Germany’s Foreign Minister also apologised, but he reiterated his government’s commitment to the freedom of the press and artistic expression.

A year later, British writer Salman Rushdie published his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. He was also accused of insulting Islam. The Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling, not only for his death, but of everyone involved in the publication.

A US$3 million bounty was offered for Salman Rushdie’s assassination. He was put under police protection and went into hiding. Two years later, the book’s Japanese translator was stabbed to death, and his Italian and Norwegian translators were seriously injured. Over the years there have been book burnings, mass protests, bombings, and more killings. The fatwa and bounty on Salman Rushdie’s head remain in place.

In 2004, Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh helped produce a movie condemning Islam’s treatment of women. It created outrage. He was assassinated just months later.

In 2005, concerned that the fear of retribution was silencing criticism of Islam, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a series of cartoons of Muhammad. Since visual depictions of Muhammad are considered blasphemous, the cartoons were regarded as highly offensive. But in a show of media solidarity, they were reprinted in newspapers around the world. The violent protests that followed left more than 200 dead. 

In France the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was accused of inciting hatred by publishing the cartoons and was taken to court. They were acquitted in 2007. In 2011, the newspaper was firebombed just ahead of publishing a satirical issue featuring Muhammad as guest-editor. And in 2015, in retaliation for continuing to caricature Muhammad, masked gunmen attacked the newspaper killing the editor and 11 other staff.

In response to the killings, the print run of a commemoration issue of the newspaper featuring a caricature of Mohammed was increased from 60,000 copies to over 5 million. The headline “Je Suis Charlie” –  “I am Charlie” – became a rallying cry for the freedom of self-expression.

While supporters of Islam allege that satire and criticism are offensive and should be outlawed, defenders of free expression argue that Islam should be exposed to the same scrutiny as any other religion. They claim the freedom of expression includes the freedom to poke fun and to have a good laugh, and that religious leaders of all faiths should respect that.

As Sir Salman Rushdie wisely observed, “There is no right in the world not to be offended. That right simply doesn’t exist. In a free society, an open society, people have strong opinions, and these opinions very often clash. In a democracy, we have to learn to deal with this.”

That is not always easy, as Israel Folau has found out.

The rugby star’s so-called crime was to post an image of a Bible passage cautioning that “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters would go to hell unless they repented” on his social media account.

As a result of the ensuing furore, Israel Folau intended removing the post but his father, a Christian minister, warned that doing so would disown the words of God, and that “You’ll go to hell, son”.

His subsequent refusal to take the post down, prompted Rugby Australia to terminate his $4 million contract, saying the post did not align with the organisation’s values and that he had breached their “inclusiveness” policy.

Israel Folau grew up as a Mormon but later became active in the Assemblies of God Christian fellowship, where his father is a pastor.

Believing that his relationship with God is the reason for his athletic success, he reads the Bible every day and considers “it is a loving gesture to share passages from the Bible with others… whether that’s in-person or on my social media accounts”.

In 2015, in response to allegations of homophobic sledging by a team member, Israel Folau said there is no room for homophobia in rugby.

In 2017, when the Australian government was considering same-sex marriage, Australian Rugby declared the Wallabies’ support. But Israel Folau objected to them speaking on his behalf, stating on Twitter: “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions, but personally, I will not support gay marriage”.

In 2018, a controversial exchange on social media led him to state: “Since my social media posts were publicised, it has been suggested that I am homophobic and bigoted and that I have a problem with gay people. This could not be further from the truth. I fronted the cover of the Star Observer magazine to show my support for the Bingham Cup, which is an international gay rugby competition for both men and women. I believe in inclusion. In my heart, I know I do not have any phobia towards anyone.”

The uproar over his latest social media post is bizarre in that the Bible scripture equally condemns drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters, as well as homosexuals – unless they repent – but only homosexuals took offence. Everyone else just ignored the post.

At the height of the conflict, Israel Folau broke down while delivering a sermon in his Church, quoting from the Bible, “For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

Israel Folau has now lodged legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission against his employers under section 772 of the Fair Work Act, which makes it unlawful to terminate employment on the basis of religion.

He also launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign to raise A$3 million to cover legal costs. But pressure on the organisers caused them to cancel the campaign and return the donations.

In response, the Australian Christian Lobby contributed A$100,000 towards his legal costs and set up an alternative donation site for him. More than 20,000 people donated over A$2.2 million in just two days, causing the organisers to hit the pause button: “if the case drags on and Israel needs more support, we will reopen this campaign”.

Rugby Australia is claiming that if they had not sacked Israel Folau, the financial support they receive from sponsors and the government would have been withdrawn. They also said they risked litigation from gay employees who might claim the work place is not safe or respectful.

They said that with regard to Israel Folau’s social media comments, “we do allow religious freedom but what we don’t allow is disparagement and that’s clear under [his] contract.”

In other words, they are claiming he was not sacked for his religion, but for breaching his contract. Many people however, see the issue as a battle for the freedom of religion and the freedom of expression. They say that Israel Folau should not only be free to believe what the Bible says, but that he should also be free to share his private views.

In this case – as in those involving Islamic fundamentalists – the real villains are the extremists who want to muzzle a person’s right to say what they believe.

Extremism in whatever ugly guise it presents itself, is increasingly undermining democratic rights within society. Extremists lack tolerance and respect for other people’s views. They start a campaign and use social media and their friends in the mainstream media to put pressure on the politicians.

Extremists are the ones who should be exposed for the danger they pose to society. But instead of calling them out, the normal and spineless response is to appease them – as in the case of Australian Rugby. Doing so, however, emboldens them.

Surely, when responding to extremist attacks on free expression, a principle that should apply is that organisations like Rugby Australia are there to promote sport – not political or religious views. If they had followed that principle, they would not have become involved in the gay marriage debate at all.

Whether it’s religion, gay rights, feminism, environmentalism, or race, here in New Zealand, extremists are now firmly embedded within the heart of government.

That’s why the public policy recommendations that are emerging from this administration are increasingly radical. The global warming policies that environmental fanatics are attempting to impose on the country, for instance, are now so extreme that they will destroy the economy.

Maori supremacism is also on the rise, as Labour seeks to embed separatism into all areas of government. This has emboldened Maori extremists who are now attempting a cultural takeover of society – including forcing the Maori language onto non-Maori speakers and rewriting New Zealand’s established history.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Dave Witherow, a long-time newspaper columnist, outlines how the press – the so-called champions of free expression – are increasingly restricting the right of their readers to freely express their concerns about these controversial developments:

“Twenty or thirty years ago I used to write letters to the Otago Daily Times. The editor in those days had liberal leanings, a sense of humour, and liked a bit of argy-bargy. Controversy was his meat and drink, and many a roiling argument would enliven the Letters columns, drawing in more and more participants and extending, sometimes, for months. It was democracy in action, and a lot of fun, exposing the wider readership to pages of dissension, good sense, and occasional outright lunacy. All sorts were afforded a platform, extremists were balanced by moderates, and readers could, in their own sweet time, take it all on board and make up their minds for themselves.

“That fine era came to an end. New editors came along, less liberally inclined, and there was even a quasi-Pravda period when it was a waste of time writing anything that was at all contrary to the paper’s favoured position. You could say what you like about the price of tripe, but anything contentious, if published at all, was ‘abridged’ to the point of irrelevance.

“A genuinely free press is hard to sustain. It is a perennial pain to the right-thinking majority and the upholders of the established order. It is disruptive, rather than emollient, and as that old newspaperman Ambrose Bierce once said: ‘If we’re not offending twenty percent of the readers every day, we’re doing a lousy job’.”

And that’s the point. Free expression can be uncomfortable and it may offend, but that does not give others the right to silence those views – unless they break the law by inciting violence.

The freedom of expression is a cornerstone of our democracy. It results in a stronger and more resilient society. Once opinions are silenced and society becomes stifled, it’s only a short step to totalitarian control.

We are witnessing such a transformation in New Zealand right now – as a result of the Government’s excessive response to Christchurch shooting. While a foreign madman acting alone was responsible for killing innocent people, the Police are now visiting Kiwi homes, ‘questioning’ outspoken gun owners and social media commentators, intimidating them, and in some cases hauling them off to jail.

Under Jacinda Ardern’s Labour-led Government, free expression is in danger of becoming ‘free’ in name only.


Should Australian Rugby have sacked Israel Folau?

*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.


Click to view x 120


Freedom of speech and religion prevail! Martin
His blog had nothing to do with rugby Andrew
While I don’t agree with his thoughts Freedom of speech is exactly that. Being punished for speaking freely needs to be unacceptable Darag
only if he was in breach of contract Barry
The Creator is the author of the Holy Bible. Morality is defined by The Ten Commandments. Sin, disobedience to His Word results in death. Everyone has the free-will to decide their own destiny – to believe in the Creator’s Son or not to believe. It is the Creator who tells us what the consequences of sin are (death and Hell, separation from him) and the consequences of following His Son, who in Agape (sacrificial) love shed His blood to save mankind from sin. That is the message of the Gospel which many in Christendom believe. Those who object are free to do so. Lawrence
The only reason as to his sacking is a large sponsor of Australian rugby told them to. It was not the Australian government Allan
Much depends on the content of his Employment Agreement and from media reports his legal team believe he can win on industrial grounds. Most contracts simply prevent social media being used at work. As CFPR has put it before; free speech is under challenge in the Socialist politics of today. The legal team should use Constructive Dismissal, Abuse (Bullying) and Unjustified Disadvantage to challenge his dismissal. Obviously, he would not choose to return to Rugby Australia (RA) but the settlement will cut the organisation to the quick. Sponsors will depart as the heat come on placing RA in the poor house. I do hope they sack the depravity loving CEO! When a quotation from the Bible becomes “Hate Speech” socialism is in full swing promoting depravity and disease ridden cults above religious values. Frederick
Under the terms of his contract they had no other choice Ron
But I think Folau should not have posted a Bible quote at all. And that the press should have correctly printed the Bible quote and not just emphasized the homosexual word. Andrea
I am not a Christian, but I believe Israel Falou (of whom I had not previously heard) should have the right of free expression. Howard
I am dismayed and aggrieved that there is little chance of me experiencing hell and that have been given a false promise; albeit disguised as a threat or form of admonishment for my lack of religion despite being born in a geographical location affiliated with one particular type. Quoting religion is not personal opinion; it is mere religious dogma reiterated. Oz rugby loses on both counts; inevitable huge compo and a good player; probably under duress of hetero-phobic management. zoran
Free speech is what has helped to build our society and the way of life we have today. If it was not for free speech, the their would not be gay marriage, or a society where gays have the same rights as all other citizens. Without free speech, out society will crumble, its just a matter of time. fred
Hypocrites. Neil
Sounds like homosexuals are a protected species in Australia. More concerning is the rise and rise of Maori supremacists in NZ while being unable to express this here without being called a racist. Also the Green party’s harmful policies of the ‘con job of climate alarmism’ and cannabis legalization while Labour endorses it all under the auspices of the climate bimbo. Monica
absolutely not this is straight out of culture maxism Jeffrey
He is entitled to his own views bruce
Not having read his contract, it is a disgrace that he was sacked for merely stating his opinion. So many on the left are COMPLETELY intolerant of opposing views and their hypocrisy is ridiculous Hilary
If u don’t like his comments don’t go to his site -simple. It is called freedom of speech Bev
Breach of contract full stop. ! Bringing RUGBY into disrepute is a secondary issue ? Andrew
As I understand it he was sacked for breaching his employment contract & also for bringing rugby league into disrepute ? Not his religious rant specifically. Andrew
He has a right to express his views. Nev
this is suppressing Israel’s right to freely express his personal views in a supposedly democratic country. this is exactly what Hitler did Pat
Just ignore it. Graeme
The trouble with Australian Rugby as in many other sports they have become to P C and in cases dictated by their sponsors .And this Government under socialist Jacinda Ardern we hare heading into a very dark PLACE. Ken
He was exercising his right to free speech. Nothing more. Dennis
His comments should have been ignored .. as were his comments about fornicators, adulterers etc. The media blew it up into this major issue. Instead of people feeling offended or encouraging people to believe they should be offended his comments should have been held up as an example of ‘just ignore’ as it wasn’t worth wasting time on. Good on him for believing what he does, but if you are not a believer or agree with his writings, then just laugh it off and move on. As a society, we are forgetting to just laugh! Maddi
They should have ignored the issue, and concentrated their efforts on Rugby Issues. Pierre
It is a disgrace that the airline should use/ withhold private investors money to bully the rugby union and for the Rugby Union to behave as it has done . It is a disgrace that the Government has allowed the laws to be flouted and twisted as has been done and the media is a disgrace for false reporting and needs a serious overhaul for its part in furthering fake news. We rely on truth to form our opinions and decide how we should act. If we decide on the basis of a lie , all is lost.The media has led the entire community astray. Deliberately .The Govt is the final guardian of a countries democracy and bears the final responsibility for failing miserably in protecting democracy -its primary responsibility. It does not govern in a vacuum. Harvey
EVERY-ONE is entitled to their opinion,if we don’t agree with it thats our right NOT GOING OUT & USEING VIOLENCE LIKE LEFT WING people are doing.THEY are NOT DEMOCRATIC & if we used violence like they do we,d be ARRESTED or CALLED some horrible name NOT get away with it like they DO.If you believe in religion your usually a caring ETC person WHY should ISRAEL be so BADLEY TREATED. Cindy
Maybe AU Rugby and the Government infested with Gay and lesbian people, controlling the media and ruling Norma hetrosexual people, the majority. Pierre
I do hope that the court fine them to the extent they will never forget what freedom of expression means in an Democratic society. Erin
under his contract, yes, but what we should remember, is, he expressed his views, and that is what we all should be allowed to to do without recriminations. Bill
AR paid his salary. Tow the line or leave and say what you like outside their control. Sometimes in life you have to know when to shut up Russ
his post advocated turning to Jesus and did not promote hatred. Angelica
He was in breach of contract Gerald
AR speaks for its players without consultation. Israel Falou speaks his views and they hypocritically crucify him. Although what he said is the truth it could have been said a lot better with love rather than judgment. His approach alienates, Jesus’s approach draws people to him and eternal life. Dave
It is very dangerous if we can’t quote the Bible – Islamic fundamentalists seem to be able to do what they like with impunity. Ridiculous!! Peter
As has been reported elsewhere, I think it probably had more to do with the fact that QANTAS is one of Australian Rugby’s major sponsors and the head of QANTAS is reportedly openly gay and told AR to do something or the sponsorship would be withdrawn. Ted
He said nothing wrong, as a matter of fact he is right, that is what the Bible says and I do agree with it. Theo
He was forcing the rugby club to agree with his philosophy. This is personnel which he should keep to himself. IAN
Quoting from an ancient manuscript should never be the basis for any prosecution or the imposition of any penalty. Barend
Man has the skids under him NO, there is no such thing as normal anymore, and nature has started the ball rowing, teaching puny little man whose bosses. Athol
Right to voice one’s own opinion yes. However I believe he went to far with his intensions. chris
Only if he breached his employment contract. Andrew
People should be free to express an opinion, just as people who choose to be offended, are free to be offended and free to say so. Sick of Gays parading themselves, saying look at us, we’re gay. Us normal people don’t parade, I feel offended by gay rights, boobs on bikes, that’s my choice. He should be reinstated then tell them to get stuffed. Carolyn
This issue is not about agreeing or disagreeing with what Isreal Folau said, it is about his right to free expression, his right to hold his spiritual belief other peoples right to hear it. More and more it is becoming unacceptable to have an opinion that is anti that of the establishment John
Australian Rugby’s reasons for sacking him are not watertight, as they’re bringing funding from Qantas and government as prime reasons for their decision. This obscures the issue. One’s religion or beliefs should not be part of an employment contract. Surely one is allowed the freedom to speak one’s mind. If other people are offended, that’s their reaction, but it doesn’t mean that the person or what s/he said is wrong or hateful. Unfortunately Folau’s comments have not been published in total by the media, so we’re not getting a balanced coverage. The Biblical truth is that God loves us all and longs for us to accept that love so that we may experience forgiveness, real life, joy and peace. Jesus came into this world to show us what God is like, and to die for our sins so that we don’t have to. That’s the best news ever! Laurence
Should have just ignored him. Politics and Religion have no place in sport kabe
Israel Folau is simply quoting from the Bible, a long established publication in the Western World. What’s wrong with that? On what basis is the belief system of Australian Rugby any more valid than Mr Folau’s? Donald
Exactly freedom to express once religion. Jeff
This is what Israel Folau believe in as his christian way of life. We all have this right to a freedom of speech. This world of our is becoming to soft and you have to say the right thing to be liked in this world to day. What the hell has gone wrong. We all have a right to freedom of speech in the way we see things. Men died in wars to give us that freedom right in speech. Robert
He is entitled to his own opinion.Australian Rugby have gone the same way of many organisations and have bowed to public pressure to be “politically correct”.At the end of the day those who identify as other than male or female are not normal and should recognise that. Steve
Yes. He knew the rules or at least should have known them. He used his position/profile to beat his own drum thereby placing his employer in an untenable position. He is playing the part of a modern day missionary. History does not look back kindly upon that ilk. He makes the whole matter worse by again lacking good judgement and further tainting the whole affair by introducing the filthy lucre into the whole affair. Gary
Your editorial says it all. The Marxists gain control by divide and conquer and in this case a Christian opinion opposed by the left wing feel-good movement. Interesting to note also with the NZ Police and the ACC being weaponised against gun owners. Rex
he quoted a Bible passage on his PRIVATE Facebook page. Nothing to do with Rugby Australia. John
Yes! But I still believe in free speech. UNLESS for greater gains one chooses to contract out certain rights to for example my employer who in return is rewarding me with extremely generous levels of remuneration. That is my decision and my freedom right. Jim
He expressed his beliefs. Nothing wrong with that. kevin
One day suspension would have been enough for each outburst George
If people do not believe in the bible why should they be worried about going to hell?? Why not the same crap about the Koran, at least Christians do not condemn gays to death and hurry them on their way to hell, if you are a believer that is. Owen
Who cares? The Bible is not “the word of God.” Israel is entitled to his opinion – I am entitled to ignore it. Religious beliefs should be personal & private. Doug
Freedom of speech was damaged irreparably with the sacking of Israel and the result will be that we are all going to be muzzled as a result of his sacking. Diana
Everyone loves to be outraged these days! Jan
Israel Folau is nothing than a f***ing showpony who thinks he is bigger than the game. He agreed not to post oppressive remarks on his social media page, but went ahead and did so and basically breached his contractual agreement with RA. He deserves to be sacked. What effect will this have on the younger generation who want to aspire to play the game at the highest level. Keep your religious beliefs to your self. He is a total disgrace to his faith, to Rugby and to the community. I hope he never plays for Australia or any one else again. As for crowd funding his appeal, words fail me. Graham
Another example of the freedoms of all individuals silenced by the radical few. Caro
Sport should stick to their knitting – SPORT not POLITICS. I do not agree with Israel’s stance and views of religion, but they are his and should be respected as such. What right has any organisation or person to muzzle anyone’s beliefs, even if the CEO and his/her acolytes, or supposedly general opinion, believe something different. They do have the right to present an argument presenting their own views to oppose his beliefs,, but to take such a draconian action of terminating an individual’s employment and livelihood so as to illustrate their separation from the opposing view, does them no credit and earns them scorn. It certainly earnt mine. If the CEO of QANTAS played a role in this affair then he also deserves our scorn. As pointed out by Dr Newman, the action has direct parallels to what is happening in New Zealand – Massey University can ban a presenter, promoting unity of a nation, from talking on the campus whilst they give residence to Tame Iti, an anti-colonialist and co-governance adherent who was convicted for the illegal possession of arms he used whilst training adherents in weapons and tactics. Seems like another person in authority making a “Captains Call” so as to ensure her and her adherent’s views prevail. It looks like a God of a different Ilk is going to defend our Nation! Michael
Freedom of speech is not limited to vocal speech. Also, freedom of religion is another fundamental right being attacked by a small minority of white liberal non-thinkers. Neville
In a democratic society free speech is part of our rights as free people. Our Grandparents, Fathers all fought and gave their lives in different world conflicts so we could all enjoy freedom. Lest we forget. Wayne
He should be free to air his opinions. We should be free to be offended if we want to be offended. Huria
It’s not only undemocratic but attacks the moral foundation of our society. Mark
In my view this whole situation has nothing to do with freedom of expression It has everything to do with one persons ego. Israel has been reading too much media hailing him as the greatest rugby player ever. So, in spite of him having been warned before about bringing controversy and disrepute to his employer he went ahead with his rant anyway, working on the basis that he is so irreplaceable to the Australian Rugby Team that he would get away with it. His own foolish actions left the ARU no choice but to fire him. Ronmac
Freedom of personal expression should be tantamount even if unacceptable to some Bryan
There is too much PC nonsense today. We should have a common sense attitude. Brian
He compromised his contract. Graham
This is just one of the many unjustified attacks on Christians! Cyril
all should have the right to free speech William
I am totally against the “muzzling of free expression” in all it’s forms. I support everyone’s right to feel, think and express what they want, whether I agree with them or not. Brenda
He is entitled to his own views, but he went about it the wrong way. He broke his contract even after being warned. Frank
Aussies rugby like our left wing government are badly advised Brianb
Of Course not . Money certainly influenced their decision as they would lose sponsorship of Gutless PC Companies who would lose sales of their products because they would be offending the So called Gay Community. What a misnomer the Word “Gay” Is now in the language. Colin
Thank you Dr Newman for your very fair and balanced article, and for the facts ignored by the media and Folau’s critics who have so blatantly mis-represented him. Arthur
Australian rugby along with their Kiwi lady boss are bloody stupid, it would be great to see them crash and burn. Israel was only following his religious feelings and if the media didn’t just concentrate on the poofy side it would have been no problems, there is to much PC in the world. Les
Hell no!! Peter
He ignored his contract rules. Darryl
It was nothing to do with free speech as such but his contract that he broke.. A different matter altogether ROD
he defied Code of conduct for players & set himself up against Christians who also read the Bible written & re-written by countless people over hundreds of years in a vastly different age & experience Gillisn
Of course not. He’s entitled to express his religious beliefs. Laurie
They should burn the Biblesin every church Brian
Freedom of speech. Mark
Folau’s views and comments had no bearing on rugby or the Australian Rugby Union and therefore none of their business. Gifford
This time I disagree with you. Freedom of speech is vital, but he is a team player under contract to keep his private thoughts to himself. He earns millions, common sense would have told him to shut his mouth. It is a totally different thing to what this govt and the Maori extremists within it are trying to do and i am surprised you missed it. Rod
I do not agree with Folau’s opinion’s but Freedom of Speech is paramount Rod
No , they shouldn’t have. But in context to your entire article – which is as usual to the point- the question asked should have been a different one. The majority of issues mentioned have to do with the accelerating destruction of our democracy under the so-called leadership of this appointed ( not elected) PM. Hence the question is: Do you see a massive threat to our society under this leadership today? Michael
Keep politics out of sport. Reuben
Let’s see if the Australian Courts protect a citizens right to free speech over an employers actions to shut him down. Keith
He signed a Contract and ignored the content. Peter
If free speech was really free Folau would have been fine with his views. We all think and say what we think still but now those ideas and utterances are kept in our own homes. There are too many hand wringers,, and PC people trying to enforce their thoughts upon the many of us who still have a modicum of active, reasonable thought on many subjects.. This is an abuse of free speech as I see it. Elizabeth
I believe in free speech UNLESS you have been specifically asked by your employer to not discuss a given topic in public (wages paid is a good example). In this case he had. Had he not then termination was wrong. Nick
They should have ignored it Gelffrey
Israel Folau and I are of the same opinion and have the right to express that. We do not expect everyone to agree with us. The Aus Rugby Union should be the ones to have their contract terminated Johan
The Australian made a big mistake of sacking Israel Falau as the article said if you are not a left wing supporter you are racist and a bigot Stuff news paper is a champion for that any thing slightly right wing waste of time putting it up so freedom of free speech is gone for me so Jacinda is duming down those that don’t agree with her Russell
It’s an employment dispute. Folau choose to play rugby and was employed as a result, which he signed a contract. What about Ruby’s ability to free speech and behaviour? Graham
His personal view. Nothing to do with rugby except that I understand the head honcho for Qantas Australia, a primary supporter of Rugby Aust. is homosexual Carolyn
I don’t know Israel Falau, but I am 100% in support of him. He is a decent human being, with great morals and principals and should be free to express his opinions whenever and wherever he likes. Most of his critics could well take on board the lesson as many of them are grubby unprincipled corrupt mongrels who might well heed Israel’s scriptural commentary to their benefit. Dianna
Rules are rules. I have been in the military for my adult life and I learnt to take and give orders and did not expect those orders to be disobeyed. He flouted his contract, just disobediant no matter what his views. Barbara
Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are fundamental human rights. The words Israel spoke were not his own but the words of another man named Paul, also known as the Apostle Paul. who wrote about half of the New Testament.. As such, to deny any individual the right to quote Scripture is tantamount to forcing them to deny God as Christians are called to be evangelists, to go into the world to teach, preach and baptize in the name of God. And, to see an employer present a contract which requires an employee to surrender those rights must surely be both a breach of democratic rights and ones moral dignity. But then, doesn’t this explain the breakdown of society we have seen in recent decades.?? James
The comments were a direct quote from a book held by many to be the absolute truth. Deirdre
If you listen to the Noise Media you could be forgiven for thinking that homosexuals were the only people on his list. We need a “Me Too” movement for the rest of us who are on that list. K
Freedom of speech and of religion are absolutely fundamental in a free society. For a Christian to quote the bible on his/her own social media page should be expected and if you don’t like it you don’t have to follow that person. Australian Rugby have shown themselves to be anti-Christian not inclusive at all. Kirsty
Definitely not. Dene
They employed him to play rugby, his religious beliefs should not have any bearing on those skills. Paloma
Politics has no place in sport. Change the name of the Crusaders, What about the Reds or the Mystics , what about the Blues , makes me depressed just thinking about it. I’m scared to say what I really think, i’m sure i’m not the only one who feels that. Graeme
Only because signed stating he would not make the statement Dennis
Israel is entitled to his own opinion as I am mine. You don’t have to agree with what he said and you can choose to ignore it if you want to. Thats freedom of speech. Unless you live in North Korea or China. Mark
The ARU had no ‘right’ or reason to terminate Folau’s contract. Ced
our countries were based on Christian principles and quoting the bible and believing it are now under threat. What is wrong with society? Kath
Makes it look like Australian Rugby is run by homosexual activists. Howard
I have similar views to Folau but cannot get a paper to print my opinion. I consider some Green Party members to be a danger to NZ’s way of life,is that hate speech? Peter
because we should have freedom of speech, on and off the field. Gerard
They need to sort out their rugby first before attempting anything else. Folau only expressed what is written in the Bible. Is the ARU going to examine the scriptures of every other religion. If they do then they will find similar comments in many of them as well. Are they going to then ban believers in those faiths as well if they publish similar quotes from their beliefs? It is a one eyed view. The broader picture needs to be looked at. Kevin
i am an atheist, and maybe committed some of the other sins too-but I’m not telling you! I didn’t complain, not because I wasn’t offended (I wasn’t) but couldn’t be faffed getting into a lather about it. Folau was NOT fired because of his religion, let’s be clear about that. Somewhere out there in Rugbyland will be a burly young man of 18-20, who worships Folau, and on the basis of his holier-than-thou rant, will, with a few of his mates, beat, possibly to the point of death, a person or persons perceived by them to be homosexual. That is why he was sacked. Didn’t Jesus say “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”? Funny, I haven’t IF quoting that one… Lesley
He breached his contract, dragged his sport into a media and public controversy. Hugh
Truth and freedom are worth fighting for speaking out honestly and with conviction is vital. Jack
As said in the article only those that prefer themselves have got up set. Hugh
Well, of course not. But Australian Rugby (no doubt consisting largely of people who have never had cause to think about it) were just following what newspapers, so-called journalists, and politicians (who set themselves up as our leaders) are all doing this and Australian Rugby simply did what “everyone else” seemed to be doing. They probably never heard of the famous man who had the courage to say: I don’t like what you are saying, but I will defend with my life your right to say it.” Have those brave days gone? Not with me. Rob
I thought he was sacked for refusing to comply with a term of his contract, written 12 months before, not to rave on about his beliefs Bill
Bowed to pressure from Quantas John
No – if we lose the right to freedom of speech by allowing it to be taken off us, then we have lost everything. Scott
Everyone is entitled to their opinion but shouldn’t preach it. Jan
Rugby Australia are hypocrites – excluding Christians in the name of inclusion – what a joke. jeff
He should never have been sacked for speaking his beliefs, and as we all saw the Media took it out of context and all they really concentrated on was about the Queers, he covered all the sins not just one. I think this country along with other countries and all their Governments are falling over themselves to be seen to embrace sinners, IE queers, dikes transwhat evers etc. It really makes you sick to the stomach with all these immoral people. Frank
Absolutely NOT- freedom of speech demands that we can say anything as long as it doesn’t call for violence. The left here in nZ are determined to limit our free speech…..for our own good of course! Roger
Wether you like it or not we have to have free speech Colin
I’m not sure – perhaps he should have kept his opinions to himself. Jo
This is a very sad case.Israel should be allowed to express his views, however cranky they may be but unfortunately he was in breach of his contract. I was much conflicted in deciding how to vote. Wah
Definitely not. Pamela-Joy
It’s a freedom of speech issue. Gregory
Of course. John
They should keep out of these issues and stick to sport. Fraser
I’m sick of being told what to think and say free speech is our right to many people are on the I’m offended wagon get a life and grow up That’s the problem today no one has any respect it’s all about poor poor me!! Peter
Absolutely not,.Folau like everyone else is entitled to express his opinion without fear . Tom
The ARU are not above the law which enshrines a person’s right to express their religious beliefs. The contract they have with players must be within the law to be enforceable. Falu is right to challenge this fundamental point of law and bring the WRU and other employers into line. jd
The punishing of Israel Folau for expressing his firmly held opinions is a disgrace. The sickness lies in a society that suppresses opinion contrary to the Marxist groupthink. Lee
So called correctness gone berserk John
His religious views have nothing to do with rugby and do not bring rugby into disrepute. Its just Australian Rugby buying into political correctness and public indignation. Maurice
The pendulum has swung much too far to be able to reign it in easily. We are stuck with this nonsense at least as long as this govt is in power. Richard
If they had left well alone there would be no continuing fuss. Jack
They didn’t ‘sack’ him. He breached the contract he had signed and as a result the contract was void. There is a need to debate the degree to which employment contracts should be allowed to control private time and activities but the line will always need to be drawn somewhere. Hans
What a stuff up. Roger
No! The sponsors and nutters re right behind it! bruce
Shame on Australian Rugby for sacking Israel Falau for upholding Christianity with a simple poster while Gay Rights are paraded through the Central Business District with half naked men and women flaunting their ideals in front of children with impunity and Australian Rugby ignore it. George
He has not imposed his will on anyone, neither has he forcibly coerced anyone. He has merely stated his opinion. Other individuals have the right to disagree with him. They do not have the right to censure him. Bruce
while not agreeing with his comments I do think every one should be able to express their opinions Cherryl
Given that the tendency of modern youth to proclaim themselves ‘gay’ in ever increasing numbers has no biological basis, and is purely the result of a need for attention – it was always going to be them and their apologists who complained about Folau. The thieves and adulterers and so on couldn’t care less. It would be interesting to learn if any of the inadequate personalities who take offence at his words actually profess a belief in the concept of hell. TOBY
Every preacher in the 50s and 60s made similar comments Jim
No No No ! ! ! Joseph
I say no. In sacking Folau they have created a much bigger problem and exposed themselves as possibly a bunch of cash hungry bigots. Peter
No way Rex
Australian rugby has folded to the demands of it’s financial supporters These include Quantas who have been reported as supportive of Folau’s sacking. In spite of the attention paid to the homesexuality reference in Folau’s post, there was also reference to other miscreants (in Biblical terms). Somehow the hysteria has been all about one item only, with no apparent concerns being expressed by assorted fornicators, thieves and so on. One wonders why the shrill left do not take up the defence of these people as well, or is it that they might find it difficult to arrange wild-eyed support for the neighbourhood con-man? Theo
He was stupid to make his statements of course knowing that it would cause the furore, but that does not mean his personally held beliefs are any more wrong than anyoner elses, and he should be free to state them without recrimination. Mike
free speech. I don’t have to read it or agree with it. The silent majority has pushed back .Great roy
He and any one else should be free to express their views Maurice
it was never they’re business as to what he stated in a religious blog Graeme
It should keep to rugby and not have any official opinion on religion or anything else for that matter. Who voted them in as social police?!! Sarah
Freedom of expression chris
In today’s climate, individuals rights, or sexual persuasion, discrimination against them, can cause distress. You are entitled to your own opinion but you cannot impress your views or ridicule others, if they differ from yours and cause them harm. Peter
Never should anyone be sacked for the right to speak out. Murray
Biased minds that are not defending free speech – and influenced by their Sponsors Hylton
They are there to administer Rugby for Australia . Wendy
Let the truth reign, in all respects. NO muzzling, and no muzzlims. Coral
Where did Freedom of speech go Gareth
He breached the conditions of his employment. His employers had the right to take action. Kirke
Our forefathers gave their lives in two world wars to protect our freedoms., speech being one of the most important. Mr Falau rewrote something that he read in the Christian Bible., does that mean the Bible should be abolished as well. A wise man said recently; It is not hate speech that is being banned, it is speech that the LEFT hate. A.G.R.
They crossed the line into unwarranted censorship. And why, it was nothing more than an over zealous religious fanatic, declaring his stupidity. Everyone should retain that right. Steve
Sticks and stones will break my bones names will never hurt me! This is all we need to know when dealing with so called ‘hate speech’. Name calling only reflects on those shouting the abuse. Go beyond that and there are plenty of laws to deal with common assault, murder and property damage. Israel Palau is entitled to make public his views and to the entitlement of free speech which our European heritage and culture have had enshrined for centuries. David
Absolutely not! Brian
Where is “hell” or for that matter “heaven”? Religious constructs both of them, fiction if you want to put it that way. As a past fornicator I am not offended or threatened by his statements Ian
The irony is that the Australian RU has brought itself into greater disrepute than Folau’s comments have, especially given that it now appears that the main imperative to its disciplinary action has been a commercial one. Graham
It stands to reason that Rugby Australia’s main sponsor, Qantas, and their chief and gay activist Alan Joyce, had a lot to do with Israel Folau’s sacking. Apart from an attack on free speech, conflict of interest and coercian should be investigated. Kris
Their Loss Allan
Australian Rugby act is retrogressive in the extreme. Punishing Israel for standing up for his Christian belief and repudiating anything to do with God let alone FairPlay. Maybe Israel’s behaviour was an over reaction but their’s the “greater sin” for such hypocrisy. Ian
He was warned, and went ahead anyway. Kevin
This is a contract of employment issue and Rushdie makes little contribution to that debate David
Not for sharing his religious views but for breaking his contract, albeit for speaking out. Brian
Just look at history – when suppression of ‘alternative’ speech was politically disallowed; and the number of people who were consequently quietened or worse still killed off! I think that is called socialism. Beware! Stuart
If the drums, adulterated and all the other sinners are not offended then the gays need to pull their heads in. Terry
Israel has shown a strength of character very rare these days. Chris
What Folau says show’s he is a bigot of the first order and being wealthy but asking for money makes him worse, but what he said/says just makes me ignore his rantings, but did notice he refrained from slagging the muslim mob who treat women with distaste and contempt and few if any rights whatsoever, and all other religions including Folau’s. Richard
The contract itself was a violation of human rights. Chris
Even if you don’t subscribe to his ideals he still has a right to express them. After all Islam openly preaches death to the infidel which is everyone who doesn’t follow their religious Cult Greg
For abusing the terms of his contract as a high profile representative of his profession with clearly defined boundaries of public behaviour. Kevin
The comment was a breach of contract. He surrendered his right to be contentious when he signed to contract.  
must keep freedom of speech….. Murray
No. Qantas threatened to pull sponsorship,and they fell into line. It’s not Hitlers’ Germany – YET. Israel needs all the support he can get, and he seems to have it. Dick
Freedom of speech is an inherent right and not to be controlled by others. Ian
Definitely, for spouting his anti gay and homophobic garbage Graeme
He’s a fool but entitled to his views. Ian
It appears a well known gay started the ball rolling and put pressure on Aussie Rugby Robert
People are entitled to their views but he went too far. Kit
More PC control opposing dissenting views Collini
RA supports the radical homosexual agenda – forced projection of ungodly views Bruce
Definitely not Barbara
His personal beliefs have no consequences to the ARU except the Qantas MD was offended because of his personal situation!! TONY
This is not over, and they will regret the costly mistake made. Ken
I think the whole fundraising thing went too far. Jo
Even religious nutters have the freedom to say what they want to say so long as they do not impinge on the freedom of others. Richard
You have to understand team sports to make this judgement. Pete
I don’t agree with what he or the bible said, but I agree with his right to express his own opinion on any matter. Mark
Don’t agree with him but he has the right to his own opinions. What do they do next — burn books !!!! (NZ is going close to that now) Alan
He is welcome to his own view. Do not use his position to ram it down the throats of others. 2. He was clearly told not to do so by his employer or lose his job. He did so. Wayne
He still has the right of expressing his opinion and that is important. But if he wishes to draw a not insignificant million dollar salary then surely Australian Rugby also has the right to first warn and then dismiss an employee who threatens their income from sponsors by ignoring such warnings. George
Absolutely NO!!! Steve
Your column says it all. Colin
Quoting the Bible should be OK in any country. I’m not a religious person. Peter
The ARFU is there I believe to promote and manage the sport of Rugby Union.After the previous round with Folau, you would have thought that someone with a few brains would have foreseen the dissent that the clause in the players contract was likely to cause. Barry
simply because he breached his contract for a second time having being forewarned Robert
Israel Filau should not of been sacked from what he quoted from the bible. The authorities went about it the wrong way they could of fined him heavily if he was signed to an agreement not to. The Australian Rugby Union could of kept increasing the fine until he conformed to their agreement. ARU went about the sacking the wrong way and are all Christians now going to be stifled for quoting from the bible. Roydon
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. Even if it offends. Society should be freely allowed to debate all issues thereby arriving at a consensus(hopefully). Robert
Religious freedom and freedom of speech is paramount to our society. Chris
Bowing to pressure from sponsors – The piper always calls the tune… Calvyn
He signed a contract to avoid controversy. John
He has the right to express his opinion whether we like it or not. There’s a little devil in me that’s hoping he cleans out Rugby Aus! Jenny
Definitely not. Trevor
Brought discredit to his employer. Graeme
Its the Law Warren
Of course not. Seems that no matter what is said, written or even thought these days, somebody somewhere will take offence and show outrage until an apology is forthcoming or worse. Ray
Free speech must be protected. Rugby Australia have turned into wimps. They should have toughed it out and told all of the detractors to get lost. Frank
This whole issue has been handled badly. But the jerks who complained about a Bible quote are the real villains. Israel Folau should not have been sacked. He should be entitled to speak his mind. The lawful freedom of expression should over-ride all other considerations. David
No he should not have been sacked. He should be entitled to speak his mind. His rugby bosses do not own him. Julie
Protecting free speech is crucial, otherwise we are all doomed. Look what’s happening in NZ with the cops interrogating people about their views on social media. We need more freedom, not less. Thomas
Israel Folau was caught between a rock and a hard place in wanting to take down the post but being warned he would go to hell if he did so. The rugby union should reinstate his contract, and the gay extremists who are behind all of this should pull their heads in and learn to ignore stuff they don’t agree with, like the rest of society. Bill