Israel Folau isn’t backing down from his views on gay marriage, child transgenderism and all that. Which is fine – of course it’s fine. He is indeed allowed his views and also to speak them – that’s what a liberal society means. Being liberal doesn’t mean we’ve got to agree with him. Nor praise him for his views, support them, approve of them. But we do have to tolerate him, his views and his right to express them. Because, you know, definition of liberal and all that.
A point that rather too many don’t quite grasp. Because we are indeed talking exact mirror image here. Blokes in frocks? Why not? In the absence of third party harm – and there ain’t no third party harm in the basic idea – then the rest of us must indeed tolerate how another consenting adult wishes to live their life. The chop? Hey, their gonads, not your or mine.
Yes, third party harm does come into it. Just because a convicted rapist slaps on a bit of rouge we shouldn’t then be placing them in a female prison where he’s a good supply of fresh meat to oppress. Something which did actually happen and which shouldn’t have. Quite apart from anything else why should we lock up women with a convicted, male, rapist?
We’ve also got to be precise about our meaning of third party harm here. Which, in standard law, we are. Actual actions to harm, yes, that’s harm. Incitement to causing harm – immediate incitement to violence for example. That’s a crime, should be a crime and will remain one. Hurting feelings? Nope. That ain’t and shouldn’t be. Although there’s a certain insistence out there that stating something that others consider hurtful or hateful should be a crime.
So, Folau’s sermon:
Agree or don’t agree with what is being said. As you wish. But to argue that he shouldn’t be allowed to say it, nor broadcast it, is to be illiberal.
Talking to the congregation at the Truth of Jesus Christ Church in the Sydney suburbs, the 30-year-old said the devil was encouraging children to change gender. “They are allowing young kids in primary school, to be able to have the permission to change their gender if they want, by taking away the permission of their parents,” Folau said. “Now they’re trying to take control as a government to make those decisions for young kids, basically that are 16 years old or younger, they don’t even know what they’re doing… this is what the devil’s trying to do to instil into this government, into this world, into society, and it’s slowly happening.”
As it happens I don’t see any harm in the 7 year old Eric demanding to be called Erica and do in anyone flashing drugs or scalpels around for anyone less than fully compos mentis and fully adult. But that’s just me.
Which is exactly the point. We’ve all our foibles and errors and the only useful definition of a liberal society is one that tolerates all of them – absent that third party harm.