Monday 11 December 2017

Radio silence: this broadcast ban insults us all

Sorry Enda, can't hear a word: the pre-poll broadcastng ban is beyond stupid in an age of 24/7 news.
Sorry Enda, can't hear a word: the pre-poll broadcastng ban is beyond stupid in an age of 24/7 news.
Dolores O'Riordan: terrible band.
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

What the hell just happened? Did I miss a meeting? There I was, giving out about the wall-to-wall, 24/7 election coverage and made a simple remark that I wished they would stop talking about the election on the radio and telly and... poof, they just stopped.

Had I suddenly - and finally, after years of yearning - developed some super power that would make Irish broadcasters conform to my every whim?

Sadly for me, but luckily for them, that's not the case. No, the literal radio silence that has surrounded the election for the last 24 hours is the result of yet another piece of State interference in something that has absolutely nothing to do with them. We're one of the few countries in the civilised world where the broadcast media is forced to introduce a moratorium on their election coverage slap bang in the middle of those precious few hours when politicians are busy trying to hoover up those last few undecided voters.

There are two questions which immediately spring to mind - who comes up with this nonsense and why do we tolerate it?

The brains trust at the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland are never slow to provide us with examples of their essential pointlessness and they have excelled themselves with this ridiculous blanket ban.

But, hey, it's for your own good.

In fact, proving that the BAI knows so much more than you do, their regulations on this issue stress that: "Radio and television broadcasters will not be permitted to carry any content that relates directly to General Election issues, including material pertaining to the merits or otherwise of General Election candidates."

And why are broadcasters not allowed to discuss the one thing that the entire country is talking about?

Well, according to chairman of the BAI, Michael O'Keeffe: "The moratorium remains an important measure for ensuring that fairness is achieved by the broadcast media prior to, and during, the period when citizens cast their ballot. The prohibition of electioneering and references to election issues will allow voters a period for reflection in the final stages of the election campaign."

Ain't that a doozy.

In their constant effort to look out for us, the little people, our intellectual betters at the BAI don't think we can handle democracy without a period of State mandated "reflection".

For starters, only mad people and priests use words like "reflection". It's up their with "contemplation" as words that normal people simply don't use.

But these aren't normal people. They're quango people - different and inferior to the rest of us in every way possible.

Apart from anything else, the moratorium proves that Official Ireland hasn't a bull's notion about the real world. After all, there is no such prohibition on print media, and social media has been as mad and frenzied as ever.

It's a bit like the now defunct position of Irish film censor. You can angrily shout at the waves lapping on the shore but that doesn't stop the tide from coming in. Similarly, the BAI can enforce a pointless and indefensible ban on election coverage and all it does it remind us that the quango is not fit for purpose.

People are smart - certainly smarter than these eejits - and we don't need a bunch of unelectable bureaucrats dictating the terms of political engagement.

It's none of their business, but that's what Official Ireland does - stick its beak where it doesn't belong.

They treat us with contempt. We should return the favour.

Twitter abuse? Remember, social media isn't real...

In much the same way that you're not a model until you've had your own stalker, you're not really a politician until you've had some gobdaw threaten you on Twitter.

The latest politician to face the wrath of the keyboard kommandos is Labour's Anne Ferris, who was the victim of the usual Twitter nonsense the other day when someone said she should be "stoned to death".

I have sympathy for anyone who receives threats via social media but people also need to remember that social media isn't real.

It is, instead, a forum for nutters and bed-wetters and should be treated as such.

Of course, Ferris was quick to turn this into a gender issue, whining that: "I've had protests outside the office but this is another level. You have to ask, 'would a male candidate get this kind of abuse?'"

Well, that's a simple question which deserves an equally simple answer - yes. Yes, they do.

The latest Pew research shows that, actually, men are more abused on social media than women and - no great surprise here - the most prolific abusers of women are... other women.

That doesn't fit in with the cosy narrative that women are poor unfortunate victims of nasty phallocrats. But, like all cosy narratives, it is false.

The other day, some little feminist tweeted that I "needed a slap", so, playing the SJWs at their own game, I claimed this made me feel "unsafe", to which she replied: "A slap doesn't have to be physical or violent."

When she started to receive the mockery she so richly deserved, she immediately deleted it and that's what Ferris should do - ignore them or play them at their own game.

But never take them seriously.


Dolores O'Riordan: terrible band.

Back in a previous life, when I wrote about music for a living, one of the perks was the amount of free CDs which would pop through the letter box.

Most of them were rubbish and every few weeks I, like every other impecunious rock hack in town, would head into a particular second-hand record store and flog the unwanted booty. It was a handy way of picking up a few hundred quid (if you collected enough) but I remember the look of despair that fell across the face of the guy behind the counter when one of the CDs was The Cranberries new album.

"Jesus," yer man said, "That's the fourth one today. And none of them were even opened."

Yes, the cream of Irish rock hackery had all received a preview copy of Bury The Hatchet and had, en masse, immediately tried to flog it. That was an entirely reasonable thing to do, because The Cranberries were a terrible, terrible band.

Still, Dolores O'Riordan (above) finally did something properly rock'n'roll when having a spectacularly amusing air-rage incident.

From wearing a superhero mask on the flight to telling people she pays their wages, it was an old-school strop. But my favourite rock star gone bad remains the great Peter Buck, who became enraged when the CD he tried to insert into the drinks trolley wouldn't play.

Welcome to the hall of fame, Dolly.

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