independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Ian O'Doherty: It was just like watching Martina Luther King

Playing to the crowd: Panti Bliss’ speech at the Abbey was an example of whining self-pity not courageous civil rights oration. Photo: Douglas O'Connor

It was the story that grew legs and has been cantering around the national psyche for the last few weeks, stopping only to grab you by the lapels and scream in your face: "Well, are you a homophobe? You are, aren't you? You want to beat up gay people and kill us all don't you, you horrible homophobe."

The chances are you didn't even realise that you were a homophobe, but that's the problem with the straights, you see. They fill you full of insidious propaganda and before you know it you're looking at a culchie in a frock and not finding him amusing or inspirational. Which means you are guilty of the 'H' word.

It's hard to think of a group of formerly oppressed people who have so managed to completely turn public sympathy against them. In fact, it's hard to imagine any debate in recent times when the average punter will hold both sides in equal, weary disdain.

In the green corner stand the social conservatives who have shown their willingness to sue when they feel slighted. In the pink corner, we have Team Panti, the ones who think that even mild disagreement is a sign of bigotry and oppression.

And then, in the neutral corner, stands the majority of the population who don't really care that much one way or the other. They are the ones who have a healthy dose of contempt for the strident, tedious militants who have hijacked the debate from the original participants and are duking it out in an increasingly ridiculous war of words. And before we start to lose the run of ourselves, this is a war in which those militants on both sides seem quite happy to slur and smear the other.

The irony, of course, is that both sides are equally quick to cry about oppression and being silenced. So much so, in fact, that barely a day goes by without them taking to the newspapers, radio and television to loudly complain about not being allowed on radio, TV or in the papers.

In the interests of full disclosure I shall now out myself and go public with a shameful admission that has been haunting me – I watched the Panti speech at the Abbey and it was... ridiculous.

I know, I know. We're all good liberal, tolerant folk and we are all meant to stand up on our hind legs and applaud Rory O'Neill for putting on a dress and talking about how much he hates himself.

But here's the thing – if Rory O'Neill hates himself that's his problem. Not mine. Or yours.

What has been hailed as a brilliant piece of courageous civil rights oration was, in reality, an example of someone quite literally playing to the crowd. It was a perfect, shining example of whining self-pity that took an issue of genuine substance and turned it into a tour de force of preening, self-regarding emoting designed to make people feel bad because poor Rory didn't like himself.

To which the response is: who cares? Why should anybody outside his inner circle of friends and family care if he is down on himself? And why should we be expected to applaud him for it?

Of course, orthodoxy is orthodoxy regardless of what flag it flies and the gay orthodoxy states that if you weren't moved to tears by his speech, or you don't want him to be the Grand Marshall at the Paddy's Day parade, then you must be one of those Russian nutters who likes beating up gay people.

You see, there's one argument that is conveniently missing from the debate – lots of people grew up hating themselves. It's a normal part of adolescence and I don't know anyone who didn't experience the odd bout of self-loathing – after all, only true sociopaths are immune from this very human condition.

Does that make me a homophobe? Well you can call me that if you want and, unlike the plaintiffs in the recent case, I won't sue. Part of that is down to a professional disgust at journalists who run to the lawyers but the main reason is that I really, genuinely don't care what people think of me on this issue. I know who I am and I'm comfortable with my views.

But here's a free piece of advice to Panti and his numerous supporters – wearing a dress and referring to yourself as 'she' is a bit rich when you're demanding to be taken seriously. You're not a woman, you're a man.

Anyone ever heard of Mrs Pussy? Nope, me neither.

Oh and by the way, Panti, I hate to break it you – but that speech really was pants.

GTA – THE GAME THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

So, the head teacher in a school in Wales has contacted parents after kids as young as six were "recreating scenes of murder and rape in the playground" after playing Grand Theft Auto.

And the parents have, quelle surprise, started to play the blame game, saying that their children are the victims of these evil doodads.

Here's a question they might like to answer – if you saw a DVD that contained ultra violence, extremely bad language, nudity and a rather loose attitude towards how men should treat women, would you let your kids watch it?

Of course not – so anyone dumb enough to let a six-year-old play something that is very obviously marked 'Strictly Over 18s' can't really complain when their precious little snowflake arrives home from school and talks about killing bitches, shooting some homies and hi-jacking a car.

A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR MEN

Would you believe tomorrow is the day when most people get dumped, which is rather hilarious – unless you are the dumped.

So, lads, in an effort to show just how much you want your relationship to survive, why don't you disappear for the day and go drinking with your mates instead?

And when Herself finally tracks you down and demands to know why you bugged out on this day of all days, simply explain that you love her so much you were afraid she would dump you on Valentine's Day and so you went to ground to preserve your perfect happiness.

And please, do get in touch when the wounds heal and tell me how it went.

Irish Independent

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