Why Folau And Mundine Are Like Bart Simpson With A Megaphone
Growing up, I thought the most publicity a sportsperson could get was to do post-game interviews and eventually ride off into the sunset and feature in Lowes commercials.
But the world is different now -- anything and everything we do can be broadcast to thousands of people with one or two clicks. You can be on a Lowes commercial 24/7, and you don’t have to stick to the script.
I'm not saying people in the public eye shouldn’t have agendas, or use their voices for good, but social media means that anyone can be heard and there is a lot of absolute rubbish on the Internet.
With any venture into new terrain, new issues (or the re-hashing of older issues) arrives. With social media, this is pretty evident around the concept of free speech.
Now, the hard thing is that free speech means that anyone can, for the most part, essentially say what they want and we cannot silence their opinion just because we don’t agree with it.
Social media feeds the beast of free speech because it amplifies the voice that speaks.
It’s like in that Simpsons episode, "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", where Bart chains 10 or so megaphones together to create a noise so loud that it wreaks havoc on the unsuspecting townspeople below.
Now you could say that some people with a lot of followers on social media are like the young rambunctious Bart here.
You could also say they are like the fly that drifts past before Bart speaks, spreading their nonsense buzzing with people who quite frankly didn’t ask.
Well last night there were two flies buzzing around the realm of social media:
Anthony Mundine and Israel Folau.
Mundine got the ball rolling with some unsolicited medical advice: “Don’t vaccine your kids period… do your research on the shit & watched the documentary vaxxed.”
Okay Anthony. Never mind the people who have spent large portions of their adult lives studying and training to become medical professionals. A seven-minute YouTube video will overturn everything that research tells us.
I don’t expect the scientist saving lives from disease to score a try on Grand Final day, so I’m not going to expect intelligent scientific reasoning to come from Mundine. Heck, maybe we should treat him like a streaker causing impedance to the normal state of play.
Several hours later Folau, not to be outdone, posted on Instagram that “those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent".
He that stated that Hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters".
I’m sure the atheists are terrified of this Hell he forewarns of.
Now, It’s easy for me to sit back and laugh and dismiss both of these guys and think that if we don’t give them attention they will just go away. But I also know there are groups who may be hurt by this.
So when Israel Folau posts blatantly homophobic comments I just don’t think we can hide behind free speech anymore because it crosses that line from free speech to hate speech.
He cannot hide behind his freedom of speech, or freedom of religious expression, and condemn the LGBTQI community.
I bet there’s a few uncomfortable teammates sitting around Falou today who may have gay family members, or who have a gay friend. One of those players themselves may be gay -- but do you think they’d confide in someone who thinks they belong in Hell?
And what about any young people who idolise you for footballing abilities and are scared to reveal their sexuality?
How do you think they feel?
The issue is that social media gives people an unfettered and unfiltered platform to share their views with others.
Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that we give away blue ticks on Twitter and Instagram because of popularity.
Perhaps we should look to give verification to people making an actual contribution to the betterment of the world. Maybe these people should get a new colour tick (seems a tad Brave New World to me… but it’s just an idea).
I understand that we live in a world where free speech is protected and there is this constant struggle to balance free speech and other human rights, but in the social media age, we need to really think about who’s on the other end of those 10 interconnected microphones and the harm that their words can do.