At some point in the past few weeks, I have managed to miss a nationwide-turned-international controversy. I missed Panti’s TV appearance, the complaints made about his comments, the settlement with the Iona Institute, the complaints made about that. I’ve been busy. I’ve been working and studying and avoiding studying by procrastinating on the fun parts of the internet, reading actual paper books, watching ridiculous quantities of Would I Lie To You?.
In the past few days, I became aware of it, but kept it peripheral in the same way I avoid political and religious debate on the internet. Then today it was pointed out to me that RTE is a state-funded broadcaster. The payment to the Iona Institute was made with taxpayers’ money.
I am, terrifyingly grown-up though it feels to say it, a taxpayer. As of this evening, I am a taxpayer who has read enough of the Iona blog to be made deeply uncomfortable by the claims to support gay rights (but not gay marriage) while quoting some horrendously homophobic opinions; by the use of those quotes to make their position clear while carefully never overtly stating the same opinions themselves; by the demands for reasonable, open discussion and debate as long as no one gets to criticise them.
I was born and brought up in a province still struggling with sectarian and partisan violence and discrimination. I was raised Catholic by a kind, loving, generally amazing, Catholic mother who has traditional views of sex and marriage, and a kind, loving, generally amazing father whose religious convictions are somewhere between “deeply private” and “what your mother said”. I was, more importantly, raised to think for myself, to ask questions, to use logic, to engage in “reasonable, open discussion”, to make up my own mind. The end result of this is a liberal atheist who is borderline allergic to politics, who is a source of pride and frustration to her mother.
I believe in equality, personally and as one of the tenets of my chosen profession. I believe in everyone being treated equally regardless of race, religion, social class, sexuality. I believe in free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of sexual expression between two consenting adults. I believe that my gay friends should be able to love and marry as freely as my straight friends. I believe my religious friends have the same right to their faith as I do to my conviction that God-with-a-capital-G does not exist. I do not believe that any of us have the right to oppress those freedoms in others.
I don’t know anything about John Waters or Breda O’Brien. I don’t know much about the Iona Institute. All I know of Rory ‘Panti’ O’Neill comes from the calm, articulate, heartfelt speech he made in the Abbey theatre.
I do know this - RTE chose to censor Rory O’Neill and give my money to the Iona Institute in a reflex attempt to avoid a defamation scandal, over offering the Institute a similar interview, a chance to respond in the same medium, opening the debate the Institute claim to want. Let’s do that,next time. Let’s see how that goes.
When I went home for Christmas I had to make space on my shelves for the 30 or so books I brought with me, and because I’m a little bit obsessive about my books I couldn’t just shove them in anywhere.
Stage one of the great reorganisation made me think my mum had a point when she bought me a Kindle against my will. The full bookshelves just made me incredibly geekily happy.
Rainbow mobile for a rainbow baby.
This is how I read. Except for the first and last pictures, they just look uncomfortable.
This is what contentment looks like.
In which a bookshop converts a fireplace into a bookshelf to accommodate more books. (Photo by Joni Van Bogaert)
Winter is coming. Get your direwolf now.
My sister has the best of taste in presents.