Hands up if you care.
It is possible to cast Israel Folau’s views as being as relevant to your life as the notion that spinsters will be carried away by flesh-eating unicorns – absurd on their face and unworthy of serious debate – and still be infuriated that this is what is deemed to preoccupy the nation. For the better part of half an hour.
Which brings us back to Rugg, executive director of change.org and expert with the meaningful side eye.
Asked how Folau’s comments affected gay people, Rugg calmly cut to the chase: “How do they make me feel? They make me feel sick. They make me feel tired.”
Rugg returned again and again to the key point: here she was, on national television, being invited to take part in a civilised debate about whether she and her like should be condemned to burn for eternity.
“I feel like we have been doing Q&A for, what, four minutes now, and already we’ve had several people repeat the claim that someone like me is going to hell unless I repent or there is something vague about me needing to be saved and that was an act of kindness for someone to say that I would need to be saved … as if these words don’t mean things. And they don’t do things.”
This is where we’re at.
For “something vague”, Rugg had only to turn to her right, where she would find the Q&A “People’s Panellist” for the week, Ash Belsar.
For viewers wondering what it takes to become a “People’s Panellist”, ask yourself:
“Am I a people?” Tick.
But it goes downhill from there. The notion that the “People’s Panellist” might be anybody you had ever met was blown up by the selection of Belsar.
He was introduced by host Tony Jones innocuously as: “Small business operator, committed Christian and People’s Panellist”.
You had to go to the Q&A website to learn that Belsar had stood for Federal or State Parliament three times as a representative of the Australian Christian Party and had columns published in the very conservative Australian version of The Spectator.
Line up, ordinary people! This is your gig.
In keeping with ordinary folk given a national television platform – when they have no agenda to speak of other than having run for Parliament three times and space in The Spectator – Belsar barely shut up for the entire hour.
And who could blame him? He must have been thanking his lucky stars.
And I do mean lucky stars. Which are real. Take my word.
Other than the Folau carry-on, the debate traversed a range of issues – assisted dying, taxes, energy prices and private schools.
But what lingered was Rugg. Her side eye summed it up, along with her withering deployment of thanks to federal minister Dan Tehan on his expression of support for her right to protest against, you know, being told she would go to hell.
“Thank you so much,” she said.
It was devilish.