Wednesday 20 September 2017

Radio: God grant me the serenity to ignore this nonsense

TD Ruth Coppinger. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
TD Ruth Coppinger. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Well, am I the Nostradamus of radio columnists or what?

Only last week I wrote about how, while I'm atheist - indeed, opposed to religion on a point of principle - I no longer get all riled up about it, like a teenager trying to annoy their parents. You know the type: atheists who are more obsessed with religion than any mujahideen or Bible-thumper.

God, they're painful. (Pun only partly intended.) If you're a grown adult, living in a society constructed on 2,000-some years of Judeo-Christian mores, and getting bent out of shape over the Angelus, crosses in public places or any of these relatively harmless expressions of faith - you need to get some priorities, a hobby or therapy.

Really - who cares? Religion is all made-up nonsense, but who cares if the Angelus rings on telly? In fact, as an atheist, this stuff should mean so infinitesimally little that you're completely indifferent, and let others pray to whoever they choose.

Which brings me to Ruth Coppinger. The Solidarity TD, as we heard on The Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 9am), is refusing to stand for the Dáil's pre-business prayer.

The details of this latest political snafu are as stupid and tedious as you'd expect. But in brief: new rules state TDs must stand for the bit that, I presume, goes something like, "Dear Lord, help us legislate and answer constituents, and initiate action plans and so on, with a clear heart and good grace. Amen."

Coppinger, however, is refusing to do so, because this Christian prayer doesn't reflect a secular, multicultural society. She argued her side, Mattie McGrath argued t'other. And all I could think of was, wow - what a rebel.

Nah, 'course not. I actually thought: my God (pun, et cetera), how dreary and tedious can someone really be? And how can anyone make me agree with Mattie McGrath? It's a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

And let's not even start on the fact that people like Ruth Coppinger invariably screech loudest about "Islamophobia" and what-have-you. God damn it (pun pun pun), these people give atheism a bad name.

Nostradamus Part II: a few weeks back I pondered why so many Irish people, and radio shows, seem curiously obsessed with Israel, while ignoring virtually every other conflict in this horrible world. This week we reached "Peak Israel", as Breakfast Republic (2FM, Mon-Fri 6am) ran reports from there.

That's right: Keith and Bernard off the hyperactive morning show travelled to meet Palestinians and Israelis and find out just what the Sam Hill is going on altogether. Gee, if only we'd known a broadcaster and comedian were all that was needed to solve one of the planet's most intractable conflicts…

Oh look, I know sarcasm is childish. I can't help it. The whole thing is/was ridiculous.

I've no doubt they mean well, but it's beyond surreal to hear snippets about the Israel situation, mashed in between pop songs, lame jokes and the general air off ADD-addled skittishness that suffuses this and most breakfast shows.

And there's an undeniable bias here. First, in that the item was skewed towards the plight of the Palestinians, and the awful things Big Bad Israel does to them.

And second, doing this at all shows bias. Why Israel, folks? When can we expect the reports about human rights and injustice from… pick a place. Literally, anywhere. Say, Sweden - one of the biggest arms dealers in the world, who sell to some awful people.

"Bernard and Keith go to Stockholm to investigate the plight of Yazidi civilians killed by ISIS with Saudi-purchased Swedish arms." Nah, I can't see it happening either.

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