When it comes to freedom of speech, people can talk but you're not obliged to listen.
The traditional rule holds that we may not agree with what someone says, but we can respect their right to say it, or failing that ignore it completely, particularly if it's said on social media. But there are limits.
Which brings us to Israel Folau. Unfortunately, the Australian Rugby Union felt it had to do something about the maligned but far from muzzled superstar for his repeated Instagram abominations. And fair enough. He was hard to ignore once the flame was lit.
But in tearing up his contract it appears the ARU may have stumbled into a legal firestorm because it seems Folau was in breach of the ARU's code of conduct, but possibly not his contract. It's not clear yet what was written and what was implied but once in court lawyers won't be referring to the Old Testament in submissions, even though Israel keeps banging on about it. Meanwhile groups like the Australian Christian Lobby claim it is a test of free speech and religion, which it is not.
The lawyers will focus on clauses and cash - believe in that - and if the ARU loses, marching Folau may prove more expensive than establishing a Super Rugby team in Perth.
It's already costing those "quiet Australians" donating their money to support Israel's legal fees after GoFundMe told Folau to go fund himself. With Folau not talking anymore, we may end up with an unusual case of donated cash for no further comment from the silent majority in the interests of free speech.
Funny things happen like that when people seek to discriminate but arc up about being discriminated against, invoking their right to express what they believe, and what other people find hard to believe they express, in public at least. The debate gets convoluted pretty quickly and little wonder wise heads try to avoid it.
The well established principle for intolerance is say what you want behind closed doors, but go public and there are consequences. Not necessarily ones you'd expect though. Take the AFL for instance, where fans were dumbfounded recently when escorted from stadiums for calling the ref a *&^%*&^%* in the traditional AFL way. Like a religion, they thought they were free to say what they truly believed.
It took Jeff Kennett to establish the ground rules for true discrimination when he suggested security forces policing the rules of abuse so unsympathetically that weekend had done so because they were, to paraphrase Jeff, "fresh off the boat".
That was unfortunate and so is the Folau situation and the way it has escalated so illogically. If Folau wins some might think we've had a triumph for freedom of speech and religion, when actually it'll just be another win for contract lawyers.
In retrospect, it might have been better to let the coach express his freedom of selection and drop the bloke until they got something binding about thou shalt not be a pest.