One of the greatest things that came out of the European Enlightenment is the concept of a human right, and the freedoms everyone possesses regardless of race, sex, class, or creed. These rights are inherent to all people, and are not given by a human authority, and cannot, therefore, be trodden upon as such.
However, a growing question of the modern times is; where are the limits of such rights? Can we impose limits upon them? Should we? Who gets to decide such things?
With new technologies such as the internet and social media that allow international, near-instant communication across the globe, how do these rights apply to the users of such technology? Does a Fair Go Casino Bonus count as part of the Right to Life, Liberty, and Property described by John Locke?
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let us look at the case of one Israel Folau. Folau is an Australian Rugby player from New South Wales and has played Rugby his entire life.
In 2006, he got the opportunity to join the National Rugby League and has been playing Rugby for a variety of teams ever since.
In 2007 he won the Dally M Rookie of the Year award and in 2008 won the Dally M Centre of the Year (Centre being the position he played). Folau is also very much a religious Christian and makes daily posts about his belief, which is why he just got sacked from the Rugby League.
As I mentioned, Folau is not shy about his beliefs. His Twitter feed is full of posts about Jesus and calling for sinners to repent. What particularly triggered the head of the League was Folau’s stance on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
In 2017, while the Rugby Australia announced support for it, Folau dissented and opposed it, and expressed that gay people should repent or face hell.
In 2019 he made a similar post just before Easter, for which Rugby Australia claimed was a breach of the commitment to “inclusiveness”, and then held a disciplinary hearing about the matter, before they terminated his contract.
So what’s the problem? Let’s try to take a look that this objectively, regardless of our own personal opinions on same-sex marriage.
If everyone is born with the right to practice religion how they want, then Mr. Folau is surely entitled to his beliefs and his opinions? Does that mean that Rugby Australia violated his Mr. Folau’s rights by essentially discriminating against him for his religious beliefs?
Is there a point where Mr. Folau’s right to free speech and religion ends?
Well, at least in the United States, the rule of thumb is that one’s rights end where another’s begins. Until my rights begin to violate yours, I can live as I want to the fullest extent of my rights. So I guess the question becomes, did Mr. Folau stating his opinions violate someone else’s rights?
I am neither qualified nor knowledgeable on the subject enough to give a definitive answer. Australian politicians, however, seem to think that Mr. Folau did, in fact, have HIS rights violated, by being fired for expressing his beliefs.
Conservative Coalition MPs in Australia are calling for stronger religious freedom laws, and Attorney-General Christian Porter is supposed to bring a Religious Discrimination Act to the Australian parliament in July. Folau himself is currently considering hiring a workplace-relations lawyer to take Rugby Australia to court over the sacking.
“You can’t bring people’s faith beliefs into a contract,” former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce told the Sydney newspaper.
“Your own views on who God is, where God is or whether there’s a God should remain your own personal views and not part of any contractual obligation.”
Joyce added that such a law shouldn’t be nicknamed “Folau’s Law” as it “should be designed for everybody”.