Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

11.7.19

Conversation in a bar.

BARRY THE BARRISTER: Now Gordon, this Folau business ...

GORDON THE JUDGE: What would you expect of an uneducated Pacific Islander, Barry?

BARRY: That comment is offensive.

GORDON: Only when amplified in public, Barry, where the great unwashed roil around in confected outrage twenty-four hours a day. But here in this comfortable bar where intelligent adults can have a conversation without stamping their feet or throwing a tantrum worthy of a two-year-old, the question is both rhetorical and ingenuous. And therefore by definition, inoffensive. What would you expect of an uneducated Pacific Islander? – or, indeed, Barry, of an educated one? And the answer, my friend, is that you would expect exactly what we have seen.

BARRY: Stop talking in riddles.

GORDON: That, from a barrister!

BARRY (TO THE BARMAN): Another whisky for my loquacious friend here, please, Charles. (TO GORDON) Then get to the point.

GORDON: There's no point. Only a collection of random observations. This distinction is forgotten in today's dialectical atmosphere in which every verbal exchange is a fencing match. Without the protective mask.

BARRY: (LAUGHS) Except people never say touché any more. No acknowledgment of another argument, just the last word every time. Like fishwives at the market shouting each other down.

GORDON: Who's offensive now?

BARRY: Oh, for Christ's sake, Gordon, it's a fucking metaphor.

GORDON: I think you mean simile. Nevertheless, your observation is apt. There is no resolution; so we trudge off to court. Where you will find Rugby Australia will be subject to many questions; whereas Israel Folau's case will essentially rest on one small but cast-iron point. He will win or lose on that. But RA has opened a Pandora's Box.

BARRY: I think Pandora's Box has been unfastened for quite some time. RA just tripped on it. You reap what you sow. Appoint people of the quality now seen on boards everywhere and they will trip every time. They follow each other like lost sheep.

GORDON: Sheep don't have to be lost to follow each other, Barry. But you are right: quality is now second to a candidate's ability to mimic peer opinions dressed up as collegiality. They accuse the legal fraternity of verbosity but seriously, collegiality? But of the case at hand: Folau quoted words from the bible. Is that an opinion?

BARRY: No, it is a 'post' containing a tract with which Folau agrees.

GORDON: But what is a 'post'? Has its meaning ever been tested in court? Is it like a private letter that RA has opened and examined and redacted like wartime censorship from the battlefront? Illegal now, of course. If it is an opinion, separate from its method of transmission, then it is one person's alone and impervious to legal action.

BARRY: I see where you are heading. The key word is 'transmission'.

GORDON: Exactly. RA's claim is 'breach of contract' or 'bringing the game into disrepute' - the phrase itself is highly suspect and susceptible to being shot down in flames – but the point turns on to whom the courts decide the mode of transmission – 'using a carriage service' was once a quaint description of this – belongs.

BARRY: Well, it doesn't belong to anyone. It belongs to the state ... or to everyone ... or no-one ...

GORDON: You're floundering, Barry. I'd have you on toast in court. But never mind. The truth is, no-one knows. And it is complex. It is an opinion, yes. Who owns the opinion?

BARRY: Folau, obviously.

GORDON: No, Barry. You're slow today. RA owns the opinion. Its entire case rests on that supposition. Effectively, it owns all of Folau's opinions. As in, has authority over their content and transmission. It has already claimed that.

BARRY: That is an absurdity.

GORDON: Indeed. It is utterly absurd. What is more absurd is that we have reached this point in a supposedly sane society. Yet the blinkered superciliousness of the hyper-opinionated class cannot recognise its own hypocrisy when rejecting the opinion of one of its own. Orwellian, or just stupid?

(HE SIPS HIS DRINK)

I say stupid, because stupidity shadows the corrugations of political correctness like a jackal shadowing a kill.

BARRY (AS IF TO HIMSELF): Kanakas.

GORDON. Precisely Barry: Kanakas. I wondered when you'd twig. The Shorter Oxford: 'A South Sea Islander, esp. (hist.) one shipped to Queensland, Australia, for forced labour on the sugar plantations'. Take away the sugar and you've got Rugby Australia and its slave class, the players. RA has turned Folau and his Pacific Islander friends and relations into a new Kanaka class, moral slaves to their overlord's views. This was proven dramatically and ridiculously last week by one of RA's timorous little acolyte sponsors, who bullied Folau's wife, purely because she had the nerve to support her husband. Imagine that! (READS FROM A NEWSPAPER)
"We do not support the views of Silver Fern Maria Folau and have made our views known to her employer, Netball New Zealand," (ANZ) spokesman Stefan Herrick told the New Zealand press.
BARRY: So the sin is visited upon the wife.

GORDON: Indeed. See the pattern? The 'employer' is now the new inquisitor. The 'sponsor' is the new avenging angel. Perhaps even the new judiciary. Perhaps even the new God. Sponsor a rugby club – or the entire organisation – and get a league of moral slaves who must agree not to contravene your prescribed set of beliefs: each individual who is 'the property of another or others and is bound to absolute obedience, a human chattel; a servant, worker, or subject ... '

BARRY: Yes, the new God. To paraphrase the words of The Who, meet the new God, same as the old God.

GORDON: Which would be ironic given that this whole thing started with a quote from the Bible.

*

We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song.


- Pete Townshend, 1971

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