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22nd May 2019

“Shut up and keep those bigoted, ignorant opinions to yourself”


Israel Folau.

Perhaps the only fractionally redeeming thing he’s done since the decision to post a warning to a number of groups of people on Instagram is that he hasn’t appealed Rugby Australia’s sacking of him.

Fornicators, drunks, atheists and homosexuals – among others – were called out by Folau in a message that said, ‘hell awaits you’.

When he was communicating that to that many subsets of society, there were going to be consequences and, on this week’s PlayXPlay show, Ireland rugby international Jenny Murphy gave it to him straight.

“Folau is in a position of privilege and he can use his voice for good. And if he can’t, then just shut up and keep those bigoted, ignorant opinions to yourself.”

It sparked a wider debate on the episode.

Free speech

Free speech matters.

But free speech isn’t a defence of everything you say. It just means you have free will to say things and then what you say will be thought about. And what say can be challenged. And have consequences.

On the matter of freedom of speech, Conan Doherty broke down the argument for anyone who automatically peddles the line that it’s an excuse or a defence for every single thing people say.

It’s not. And you can hear why from 49:50 here:

On the matter, Doherty said:

“Freedom of speech is not designed to just relentlessly protect every single piece of speech. It’s designed to protect your speech, to protect my speech, it’s not designed to protect the speech of an idiot no matter what he says.

“It doesn’t mean that you can just say that and nobody will challenge you. That’s not what freedom of speech is about.

“It’s about making sure that me and you and everybody isn’t shut down from saying things. But when you do say something and it’s something like that, then it will be challenged.

“That’s a proper world. That’s how the world should work.”

Subscribe here or watch the Folau clip below.