Friday, May 3, 2019

The Mirror: Choking on Gnats

Is James Faulkner gay or not? Apparently this is a major issue. His social media post saying he was out with his mum and boyfriend, and his subsequent backflip to clarify the other man was his best mate, has caused a media storm. I'm not sure why I am writing about this, but Israel Folau is facing the music today over his "homophobic" comments on social media, and a lot of people are frothing at the mouth. Both Folau and Faulkner seem to be a cynosure for outrage on the touchy subject of inclusion.

Apparently there are no "out of the closet" homosexual men in either cricket or rugby union, or indeed any of our major, high profile sports. Evidently this is a problem. There are no "out of the closet" homosexual men in my workplace either...should I find one (either by outing them or hiring them) so that my employer can't be accused of homophobia? Every television show now has a homosexual couple de rigeur, so I can recognize the need to have more homosexuals.

I am strongly opposed to discrimination on the basis of sexuality, gender, race or age. The fact there are still people in our country, and you probably know some of them, who still view people who are different from themselves, as inferior is a shameful indictment of humanity.

However, this obsession about people's sexual preferences is surely
a distraction from the main game, and the hysteria surrounding Folau and Faulkner and everyone else who puts their head above water and into the sights of "news" creators* is really annoying. In the information age people's opinions on social media generate more news stories than actual news. I don't even know what "news" is anymore.

Warnings are ringing out now, as if they haven't been ever since the advent of social media, about the need for circumspection with regard to what one posts online. A relatively recent and delightful cliche: "the internet has a long memory" states the proof of your bigotry, your indiscretions, your crimes is available forever - well, not exactly forever. You could lose your job or not be able to get one because of something you once said. You may have changed; not just your mind about a particular issue, but your whole outlook on life might have changed. Nevertheless, apparently you can still suffer the consequences. And there is no statute of limitations.

In two weeks Australia will hold a federal election. What dominated the campaign this week? You guessed it: social media posts. Liberal candidate for Lyon, Jessica Whelan's resignation is the latest example of controversy brought about by inappropriate social media comments, in Whelan's case; anti Muslim statements. Labour Candidate, for Melbourne, Luke Creasey, is under pressure due to his activity on Facebook which included such delightful things as sharing rape jokes and pornography, and distasteful comments about 2012. He might no longer do that, or think that is acceptable behaviour - in fact he said so when he apologized - but too bad. He said it and it can't be unsaid. It's too late. You can't grow up, change your view or adjust your attitude.

Can we talk about the issues now? I mean the issues that really matter. Education. Health. The environment. The economy. Can we have some serious discussion about what really matters? Can we stop focusing so heavily on individual indiscretions and examine the causes of our problems? Can we even agree on what those problems are? Can we stop using band-aids to treat cancers in society? Or are we going to continue to choke on gnats while swallowing camels?

In Matthew 23:24, we read about Jesus identifying this problem. He was speaking to the religious leaders of his time, but of course he was referring to people generally. He was not only saying that our priorities are wrong, but worse, we deliberately foster hypocrisy by participating in "stone throwing" exercises. I don't understand why so many people think Jesus and his teachings are irrelevant and unimportant, but James Faulkner's sexuality is. We would rather discuss Luke Creasey's comment about lesbians and their vaginas than Jesus' teachings about justice and mercy.

Anyway, as we say in Australia: she'll be right mate.

* there is a big difference between reporting on news and creating it. The latter is becomingly increasingly common, and especially evident in sports journalism.

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