There’s been plenty of defenders of Israel Folau and his religious beliefs this past week, with the Australian Christian Lobby able to raise $2 million in his wrongful termination lawsuit against Rugby Australia over his sinners Instagram post.
But Rugby Australia have defended parting ways with Folau arguing that sponsors would have deserted the sport and LGBT employees could have filed lawsuits against Rugby Australia for creating an unsafe work environment.
Rubgy Australia also believe that despite the support Folau has received that public opinion is still on their side. LGBT activists have maintained that Folau’s post was hurtful to young LGBT people, especially since it comes from someone in a high profile position in elite sport.
The crowdfunding of his legal case is another point of criticism given Folau’s already existing wealth from his playing career. Those giving to Folau have also been criticized as donations to sick children or the disadvantaged would be a cause more fitting for those of the Christian faith.
One critic of the Folau legal fundraiser was actress and comedian Magda Szubanski who was one of the most public faces of the same sex Marriage Law Postal Survey in 2017.
Szubanski decided to launch her own interfaith GoFundMe ForLove which has a target of $500,000. 90% of funds raised will go to the Children’s Cancer Foundation, 10% of funds raised go to Twenty10, an LGBT social service organization. The GoFundMe is at half its goal.
Szubanski on Twitter has engaged in many back and forths with other users over her entry into the Folau saga, the theological debate surrounding his Instagram post and whether she herself is infringing on Folau’s right to free speech and religion.
One exchange that gained particular attention was one between Szubanski and Tyson James Hayter who identifies as a conservative country gay.
FYI this is how the “good cop” hater playbook works: the comment always starts with “I adore you but” or “I loved you when”. This is the way they try to establish their bona fides and impartiality. And then go on to say I’m appalling. Check it out. There’s a deaset pattern. https://t.co/vMe64DFlsZ
— Magda Szubanski AO (@MagdaSzubanski) June 29, 2019
The exchange had a bizarre addition to it by indigenous academic Professor Marcia Langton who claimed Hayter must have thought he was gay because of too much masturbation.
Langton was roundly criticized for this crude remark, and so was Szubanksi for not condemning it. Langton then went on a Twitter blockathon. She claimed all her trolls were followers of Lyle Shelton and part of ‘White Australia’, even though the man at the centre of this week’s saga Folau is a Pacific Islander.
Langton then went onto attack Hayter further digging up an unfair dismissal claim he had made against his mother’s and stepfather’s company.
Given that one of Szubanski’s high profile defenders had inadvertently attacked a young man’s sexuality, among other attacks, many went on to accuse Szubanski of further double standards given that in sketch comedy program Fast Forward during the early 1990s Szubanski had appeared in blackface which is deemed ‘racist’ by today’s left.
With the Twitter conversation becoming more toxic journalist Julia Baird, herself coming from a Christian family called for the attacks on Szubanksi to stop.
Just saw the ugly hate campaign on here against @MagdaSzubanski. A note for those who support Folau's desire to protect & assert Christian faith: you cannot preach peace in the language of war. Or love in the language of hate. Jesus said to love your enemies, not troll them.
— Dr Julia Baird (@bairdjulia) June 29, 2019
Then Israel Folau himself also agreed things had gone too far and called for attacks on Szubanski’s character to stop.
Hey everyone I totally agree with @bairdjulia – please stop the anonymous online attacks on @MagdaSzubanski who has entered this debate very respectfully. She is entitled to express her views – let’s all have this important discussion with love in our hearts.
— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) June 30, 2019
Magda Szubanski graciously thanked Folau for his intervention wishing that the personal attacks on him and his wife also ended.
Thank you Israel Folau I hope the same for you and your wife Maria 🙏🏻 Israel Folau, Magda Szubanski: GoFundMe, online attacks, Rugby Australia https://t.co/URpYZ1OHHd
— Magda Szubanski AO (@MagdaSzubanski) June 30, 2019
With the toxicity of the previous day online it is pleasing after a bruising week that Folau and Szubanski although they disagree with each other can agree to engage with each other in civility and encourage their supporters to do the same. Maybe this new battle in Australia’s culture war doesn’t have to be so vicious and personal.