TV debate on gay marriage a farce of epic proportions

Sir, I refer to the Late Late Show of February 1 last, specifically to one of the most farcical panel debates of Irish TV history, where the opener was none other than a highly emotional rugby pundit turned radio presenter apparently standing as the nation's voice of reason.

I looked on in disbelief as George Hook, positioned at a podium in the middle of the floor and set apart from the rest of the panel, launched into a monologue without fear of interruption. He exuded the authoritarian attitude of a contrite genius who suddenly saw the light regarding 'homosexual marriage' because his daughter decided to have an interfaith marriage... Eh?

Ok the man may have had some kind of personal epiphany, people have them every day, but why does this man deserve to have his opinions on 'gay' marriage propagated to the nation in such a detached and autonomous monologue on one of our most watched TV shows?

A gentleman from the audience calmly asserted that Hook was over emotional on the subject, which was not conducive to a relevant discussion of the facts. He needn't have explained why as Hook retorted dismissively with a proclamation that 'one would have to be emotional about love... that Ingrid (his wife, I suspect!) would have shown him the door long ago if he hadn't been'. I was reminded immediately of Yeats' line "...the witty man and his joke aimed at the commonest ear", the audience laughed and the gentleman's apt point was lost in translation. This type of self-indulgent, illogical smoke screen was the entire problem with Hook's contribution. Of course the issue is related to love but it is not merely about love, or Ingrid, or an overly emotional man at a podium pontificating illogical, poorly constructed off-the-point arguments. It IS about defining or perhaps redefining marriage in a contemporary context. It IS about equality. It IS about legal and social standing and rights.

Moving on from Hook for a moment, the debate was ill formed by every side, given that it descended into a chaotic argument around whether or not a study or studies were valid or not. We, the 600,000 or so viewers who tune in, are still none the wiser! Would the entire piece not have been appropriately served if the show's researcher(s) had confirmed the current academic standing of the report(s)?

My feelings on the issue of 'homosexual marriage' are inconsequential. George and I deserve no Saturday night soap box or uninterrupted airtime on this issue. I would prefer to leave that to the experts. In fact I would prefer to HEAR from the experts on the matter. So RTÉ, where were the psychological experts? Where were the academic and social researchers? Where were the facts? Where are your journalistic ethics, your impartiality, and your basic standards?

Is mise le meas,

Maryanne Slattery,



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