The Sydney Morning Herald - Editorial - July 31, 2015
This is a personal plea from the Herald to every Australian who thinks the controversy over booing Adam Goodes is a media beat-up or just another case of a minority playing the victim; that the Sydney Swans player is being a sook and should be more grateful for the opportunities an Aborigine like him has been given; that this is more political correctness gone mad and just another case, as columnist Andrew Bolt claims, of the "racism industry" running rampant.
Yes, as a footy fan you do have a right to boo players on the field. It's a tradition to target rivals – usually those who are the most threat to your team getting on top and staying there.
Yes, you have a right to follow others when they boo, too, to magnify the effect and perhaps put the player off his or her game.
You even have a right to be a bigot, according to federal Attorney-General George Brandis last year as he prosecuted the case for more hate speech: "In a free country people do have rights to say things that other people find offensive or insulting or bigoted."
But first ask yourself these questions in regards to Adam Goodes, a proud Indigenous Australian, unquestionable footballing great, Australian of the Year and most of all a human just like you, your children and your friends.
Am I booing Goodes because I have the right to boo and the right to be a bigot or I am doing it because I am too scared to say no, that this is not the right thing to do; that this is not okay for Australia, that this has gone too far, that this has given ammunition to those who have more sinister motives?
Ask yourself: Am I drawing on the values that we as Australians hold dear, like standing up for the underdog and giving everyone a fair go?
Is it right that I vilify Goodes because he called out a 13-year-old fan who called him an "ape", even though he pleaded afterwards that she not be targeted and he refused to lay charges?
Is it right for me to punish Goodes for daring to say as Australian of the Year what so few other Indigenous people get a chance to say, which is how he feels let down by the reconciliation process, that there is unfinished business in the constitution, that mutual respect remains lacking and that institutional and community racism lingers?
Is it right to show my children and my mate's kids that when we disagree with someone that makes it okay to kick people when they are down, at their weakest and when their head is in a bad place, feeling isolated and hurt?
How would we feel if we were in their place – a minority, the little guy, the underdog – and we saw an extreme, uncaring, negligent or even racist element within the majority go hunting for us, then everyone else followed without asking the important questions, and we could do nothing more to protect ourselves than to draw on our culture and perform a traditional war dance of defiance?
What if I decided my rights to free speech and views on Aboriginal Australians – magnified by the rights of all those others who haven't asked the right questions of themselves either – still outweighed any damage our behaviour is doing to Adam Goodes, all Indigenous people and our nation as a whole?
What would I do then?
Facebook - I stand with Adam Goodes