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Michael O'Doherty: I'm all for free speech, but this is just car crash radio

I'm all for free speech, but a blanket willingness to let anyone with an opinion on any subject voice it in public can be a dangerous thing. Much of what is defended under the banner of 'the right to free speech' is often a product of laziness, or an attempt to get publicity.

Just last week, the founders of Facebook wheeled out the 'right to free speech' excuse when they refused to close down a site which glorified murderer Raoul Moat -- the site referred to him as a 'legend' -- no doubt believing that they were standing up for human rights by not indulging in censorship. But there's a difference between censorship and editing, a point that could be heeded by one Irish radio talk show.

There is one simple to follow rule which generally holds true -- free speech good; slurred speech bad. Which is the problem with Adrian Kennedy's late night Phone Show on FM104.

A favourite amongst taxi drivers, and people who like to drink at home of an evening while dining on delicacies from the local chipper, Kennedy's show has carved itself a niche as the outlet of choice for late-night rants.

Most of the targets are reasonable enough, and allow the good folk of Dublin to let off some steam at life's injustices. But of late, the show has welcomed on air the family and friends of slain criminals.

A few days ago, a man claiming to be the father of murdered criminal Stephen 'Madser' Byrne was allowed his tuppence worth to launch an attack on the gardai, implying that they let Byrne die on the pavement rather than try to save his life.

With only the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence to back it up, this allegation was broadcast, and reported by the press the following day.

In giving oxygen to people willing to defend the city's low-life with their bizarre set of values -- "Okay, my fella was no angel, but he was a good son/husband/ pigeon-breeder, and I'll always love him..." -- Kennedy may feel he's a pioneer of free speech.

Sewer

Perhaps he sees himself as a late-night Joe Duffy but if he does, he's as wildly off the mark as many of his callers.

Liveline may be a gladiator pit, but the Adrian Kennedy Phone Show is an illegal bare-knuckle boxing match.

For all of Joe's love of blood on the airwaves, there's a certain class to it, a feeling that important issues are being aired, and good will prevail.

But Adrian Kennedy's offering there are no emperors in charge. Right-wing immigrant haters? Check. Boozed-up loners half way through a six pack of Dutch Gold? Check. Relatives and friends of defending drug-dealing scumbags? Can't get enough of them ...

It may get Adrian's name in the papers, but the unfiltered sewer of ignorant commentary that accompanies some of his topics is an appalling ad for free speech.

I know that FM104 has an editing suite -- perhaps they should learn how to use it ...

Yabba Dabba-don't head up to Castleblayney for a fun old time

The town of Castleblayney in Co Monaghan last weekend managed to get itself into the Guinness Book of Records. As the least attractive holiday destination in the world, you may ask?

Well no, actually -- it gained its place in that famous book by managing to have the highest number of Flintstone lookalikes together in the one place. 905 of them, if you must know.

While the people who converged on the notorious Co. Monaghan hole must be delighted with themselves, it strikes me as as much yabba-dabba do about nothing.

There was a time when the Guinness Book of Records was a revered tome -- a publication to be looked forward to every year which would, pre-internet, provide such crucial information as the the world's tallest, fattest and oldest living people, and act as a chronicle of great achievements.

But recently, as it attempts to keep its name out there, the GBR seems to be accepting entries for categories which involve no skill or endeavour. How many hot dogs can you hold in your mouth? How many games of hopscotch can you play in 24 hours?

And to that list, we can now add 'how many cretins can you get to dress up as Flintstone characters in the same place?'

Stunts like these are just for people whose daily lives are so sad that they think being in the Guinness Book of Records, for any reason, will make them significant. Well it won't -- it simply makes them pathetic and undesirable. A bit like the modern day Guinness Book of Records.

And Castleblayney.

Financial ruin is cure for infidelity

From Post-it stickers to Viagra, many modern inventions were stumbled upon by accident, while attempting to create or fix something completely unrelated. And to that list, we can now add a cure to that most troublesome of modern afflictions -- unfaithful husbands. And the solution? Financial ruin ...

Has anyone noticed the number of businessmen who, despite owing fortunes, are continuing to live in luxury, as many have been cunning enough to avoid losing their homes by transferring the ownership over to their wife, meaning that it can't be touched? And while we all rage at the absurd ease with which these crooks have been able to protect their ill-gotten assets, the fallen businessmen continue to live it up as before. Except for one problem.

With these assets now in their wife's name, these men will only have their gilded roof above their heads for as long as their marriages last. Any suspicion of cheating, and the wife can simply tell them to "get out of MY house".

So they'll have to content themselves with only screwing the taxpayer from now on ...


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