Billy Vunipola’s Problem Is They’re Rugger Buggers For A Different Reason

If you were less than fully aware of the intricacies of colloquial English you’d be wondering what all this fuss was about concerning Billy Vunipola and whether gays are condemned to hellfire by God or not. For Vunipola is a professional rugby player. Rather a good one in fact. And it’s long been true that we call those heavily interested in that game rugger buggers. The problem here being that it’s a colloquialism, meaning people who play rugby, not an attempt at an accurate – nor even insulting – description of what goes on in the scrum.

Having had our fnarr fnarr of the day this is of course about Israel Folau. Who said, as is asserted by a number of the major religions around the world, that gay sex is not part of God’s will and that people who partake will be off there in Hell along with the perjurers, adulterers and so on. This does not, as we’ve all noted, sit well with the current societal insistence upon tolerance. Actually, it often seems that we’re not asked merely for such tolerance but must actively approve.

Folau’s playing career in Australia was placed in jeopardy following an Instagram post on Wednesday in which he proclaimed hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters”. It was the second time the NSW Waratahs player had used social media as a platform to disseminate homophobic sentiments, following a series of posts last year, including one which said “God’s plan for gay people was hell”.

Folau has since been fired. And the idea that any employer may fire any employee for any damn reason they like is just fine with me and us around here. Yes, even if it is over some ideological litmus test. Billy Vunipola’s problem is that he shares the religious view:

“At Saracens, we are one family, open to all, with the firm view that everyone should be treated equally with respect and humility. “We recognise the complexity of different belief systems and understand Billy’s intention was to express the word of God rather than cause offence. “However, he made a serious error of judgement in publicly sharing his opinion, which is inconsistent with the values of the club and contravenes his contractual obligations.”

Saracens can make not dissing gay sex a condition of employment if that’s what they wish to do.

Has to be said, there’re going to be problems with that as the sport recruits heavily from Pacific Islanders, often as not believing in a fairly fundamental form of Christianity. Those Victorian explorers and their Bibles, d’ye see?

However, that right does come with a caveat. Or at least it should and if it doesn’t then we’ve a problem. If it’s fine to fire people for their views on gay sex then it’s fine to fire people for their views on gay sex. A Catholic – to name another religion that shares the Folau view – institution should be allowed to fire someone for stating public approval of gay sex.

Note here not for someone being gay. We are talking about words and views being expressed here. If it’s right and proper that an employer can fire for views being expressed then it’s right and proper that an employer can fire for views being expressed. If one employer is allowed to impose an ideological litmus test – over what may be publicly said, say – then all employers are allowed to do so.

And the chances of this being generally agreed are what do you think? Quite, so we’re not actually in a world of the logical appreciation of civil rights, are we? We’re in this world where we’ve the censorship of unfashionable ideas in the form of employment limitations. And isn’t it darkly amusing that this very world was built by those arguing in favour of freedom and liberty?

About the only lefty I approve of on this sort of issue is Peter Thatchell. Some hellfire and brimstone preacher was arrested and charged with, umm, behaviour likely to or summat. Basically for reading the nasty parts of Leviticus at people. You know, the bits about the death penalty for shrimp, cotton polyester blends and buggery. Tatchell turned up in court to defend him. Sure and he’s saying I’m going to Hell. It’s his right to say so too, however uncomfortable I might find that. You know, free speech?

Which is the correct set of priorities. Along with that freedom and liberty to do as we like – absent third party harm – comes that vitally important freedom to speak as we wish about those actions.

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