Religious freedom, freedom of speech and a whole lot of other concepts are being discussed with people’s views fluctuating wildly depending on who or what we’re talking about.
Take the protesters who lost their High Court case. The Court ruled that a deeply held religious conviction didn’t mean that the government couldn’t legislate to stop them protesting near a clinic which performed abortions. The protesters argued that they should have the right to protest anywhere. It would be interesting to ask their position on the recent vegan protests and whether they supported vegans going onto farms to make their position known to farmers.
And let’s not forget Scott Morrison’s little non-campaign invitation to the media to join him at his Easter Sunday worship. When one of them caught him in an unfortunate pose, social media had a laugh at his expense. Scott normally has a great sense of humour. For example, his recent attempt to extend his refusal to talk about “on water” matters when he was Immigration Minister all the way to the water buyback scheme. Good one, Scott. However, he was certainly not amused by the way he was portrayed by a scurrilous few whom he felt were mocking him at a very private moment, calling them cowardly and suggesting that they were living in their mother’s basements. Strange. I would have thought that the basement belonged equally to both parents. I mean, think about your own basement… You don’t have one? Mm, strange to refer to the basement at all. If anything, I would have thought that Australians would have a cellar, but hey, Scott does try to copy Trump at every opportunity.
My strategy is to try and take personalities out of the situation and to judge how I’d feel if the same principle was applied in a totally different circumstance. Let’s say, I invite the media to watch me take a shower. While it’s true to say that I generally regard showering as a personal thing, in an election campaign, I want to demonstrate just how clean I am. Now, I have every right to get upset when someone comments on my lack of muscle tone and tries to body shame me, but I’m not sure if that extends to someone pointing out that I took extra care to ensure that my genitals weren’t exposed and this suggests that I’m hiding something because that would put me in a no-win situation. I could hardly scream that I have nothing to hide, because that could start a whole series of nasty tweets.
Notwithstanding all that, it’s the Israel Folau controversy that seems to be dividing people. After all, argue some, he has a right to express his view. Others argue that his view was homophobic and hurtful to a large number of people. As a side note, I think it should be remembered that he didn’t single out gay people; he also suggested that adulterers, drunks, fornicators and many others who were also going to burn in Hell’s flames. One wonders if he had any politicians in mind…
Many people have questioned whether a sporting body has the right to censor somebody. Others have suggested that, as he’s an employee, his employer has the right to determine what he puts out because he could be seen as representing them.
To apply my earlier strategy, I think it’s important to take both sport and religion out of the equation and consider it as we would any other circumstance. After all, to many people, religion is almost as important as sport, and both can get people quite worked up when they encounter someone who supports a different team who refuses to understand exactly why theirs is the only one worth following.
Let’s say that I work for a large retail company as a sales assistant. It comes to the attention of my manager that, using my own name and identifying myself as a worker for that company, I have been tweeting messages along the lines: «While National Party voters are all stupid, people who vote for One Nation shouldn’t be allowed out of the house without a minder as they’re clearly incapable of crossing the road without help. » After I argue that these are just my opinions, my manager tells me that some of the customers are, in fact, National and One Nation voters and while I have a right to my personal views, I can’t express them when it’s going to be linked to the store.
Now, some of you may still argue that I have the right to express my views. However, if I were to say that I see the point and in future, I’ll be more circumspect, I can hardly complain if I’m dismissed when I suggest that I’d like to have some of what Clive Palmer has been smoking…
By the way, Clive Palmer’s latest newsletter tells the faithful not to believe the fake news and that they’re on track to win government. He says that their polling says that 15% intend to vote UAP and that there’s a 28% undecided vote who’ll vote for him giving him a total of 43% which will be enough to win government apparently… Yep, that’s convincing!
Forget the sport and religion for a second and go back to the retail assistant. Does the employer have the right to determine an employee’s public tweets? Does your view on this change if the employee has agreed not to publicly say anything controversial? Or does it simply change depending on who said it and what they said?
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