Israel Folau found guilty of insulting our aristocratic class

Israel Folau found guilty of insulting our aristocratic class, by Henry Ergas.

Had he consigned climate change deniers to eternal hellfire, rather than gays, he would surely have been hailed as a hero, instead of being accused of bringing the sport into disrepute.

What if he had said “climate change deniers” instead of “homosexuals”? Okay then!

But by including homosexuality among the sins he castigated, he infringed on the rules of polite society. Not the society of his peers, perhaps, but certainly that of his self-proclaimed betters, who regard his views with the condescension, and all the arrogance of wounded pride, which only the highly educated can muster.

That he was found to merit the severest punishment is therefore unsurprising. And it is even less surprising when one considers the long history of prohibitions on ­offensive speech.

Those prohibitions were not born from concerns about protecting tender feelings. Rather, their origins lie in medieval laws that inflicted fierce retribution on commoners who insulted aristocrats or impugned their honour.

Dissent has always appeared uncivil to those privileged by existing arrangements, and the new laws invariably repressed the opponents of an unjust status quo.