Enjoy speaking your mind and sharing your views while you can. The rights to freedom of speech, conscience, and religious belief look set to disappear very soon from Australia.
And it will certainly happen if the corporate guardians of public morality have their way following the grilling given to Wallabies superstar Israel Folau who is a devout, conservative Christian.
Falou holds some very traditional Christian beliefs about sin, heaven and hell, and homosexuality. He expressed his view that gay people should repent in this life to avoid being sent to hell.
You can agree or disagree with Izzy. But either way, if Australia is a genuinely free country, he should be free to express his genuinely held religious beliefs.
And if we are a genuinely tolerant country, we will let Izzy say what he thinks even though many of us may strongly disagree with what he says. Remember: tolerating views you agree with is easy.
We often confuse tolerance with ‘respect’. But real tolerance means putting up with the opinions of others that you think are simply wrong — or even abhorrent and repellent.
After all, we clearly expect Izzy to tolerate all the views bluntly expressed by his many critics, including corporate sponsors such as Qantas and ASICS, who accuse him of homophobia, and worse.
Obviously, when he answered the Instagram question, Izzy wasn’t representing the views of Rugby Australia, or ASIC, or Qantas. Only a fool would have failed to see they were his personal views.
Yet now there appears to be a concerted push to silence Izzy and force him to keep his religious beliefs to himself. But why should he keep quiet?
Freedom of speech means sometimes people will say things that others find disagreeable. And if we truly value such freedom, we will stop trying to silence those who offend us.
We are gradually, but inexorably, tipping towards a new kind of totalitarianism where any controversial or awkward opinion is silenced, and all dissent is crushed into submission.
Now is the time to stop this dangerous slide towards tyranny and intolerance. If we delay too long, it will be too late for us, and we will all be muzzled for good.
This is an edited extract of a piece written for the Daily Telegraph.
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