It’s been a very bizarre week in the news, a week that no sane person could fail to laugh at.
Take for instance the nutty Christian fundamentalists of Newtownabbey who succeeded in having a play banned from the council-owned theatre because they found it offensive. The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged), a comedy, was due to be put on in the Theatre at the Mill until Rev Brian McClung, a mullah of the lunatic Free Presbyterian Church demanded its cancellation. He took offence, and his righteous wrath was duly taken up by fellow religious fundamentalists on Newtownabbey council, including the gloriously-named Billy Ball. Billy’s DUP colleague, Mandy Girvan, declared that it shouldn’t be shown if it’s against the Bible’s principles, whatever that means, thereby opening the door for every crank and nut-job to demand the cancellation of everything they don’t like. But in fairness, not all unionists are as humourless as the DUP. The Ulster Unionist mayor, Fraser Agnew, rescued the day by injecting a little absurdism: As the guardians of all that is right in society, he announced, we have got to take a stand somewhere and that is what happened in this instance.
So there you have it. Next time you feel something is not quite right about the world you live in, make a call to the Newtownabbey Borough Council, guardians of all that is right in society. Something a bit off? Send for Superprod!
And you thought the Limerick city of culture farce was bad? At least we didn’t have religious lunatics trying to ban things they didn’t like. Where’s this going? Should every purse-lipped prude and ideologue have a veto over things they don’t approve of? Well, we tried that in the South for decades and look where it got us. It seems the Wee Frees have a distance to go before they emerge from the Dark Ages and to be truthful with you, I wouldn’t be holding my breath.
For a little light relief (as if the Newtownabbey story isn’t ludicrous enough) we had the wonderful tabloid scare about an abandoned ship adrift in the Atlantic, full of cannibal rats, at any moment about to crash onto the Irish coast, unleashing a plague of ravenous flesh-tearing rodents. You’d have to admire the hack who dreamed it up, but of course it’s complete horse-shit — not that people have ever worried about such minor details as facts. It’s nonsense, but it got me thinking. How would we deal with that if it turned out to be real?
We’re not a warlike nation and we don’t maintain a large military, unlike our immediate neighbours, who are very warlike indeed, even if they seem to be our best friends these days. In fact, you could argue that their warlike tendencies over the centuries are what brought about the existence of the ludicrous DUP councillors in Newtownabbey, but that’s a debate for another day. One way or another, I’m not sure if we’re equipped to sink the ghost ship as it looms into view through the mists, all draped in seaweed with a giant one-eyed peg-legged rat at the helm. Maybe I’m wrong. Our coastal patrol vessels are armed and for all I know, they could easily sink a normal ship. However, the Lyubov Orlova is no ordinary ship. Designed and built to sail in Antarctic waters, this vessel has a heavily-strengthened hull to resist the impact of ice-floes and icebergs. Would a projectile from our naval guns just bounce off the outer skin and skip across the ocean like a high-speed explosive metallic pebble?
It’s immaterial. If we really wanted to sink it, we’d ask the Brits and they’d vaporise it in the blink of an eye, and they might not even charge us for the pleasure of doing it, but would that be a good idea? Surely it would be a very bad thing to be sending 4,000 tons of cruise ship to the bottom of the ocean? Well, yes and no. If the Canadians already removed all the heavy fuel oil and other toxic components such as batteries, it wouldn’t matter a goddamn and it might even be a benefit. Sunken ships form excellent reefs encouraging local ecosystems to develop but on the other hand it might provoke the ire of the Ego Worriers and since, as we already know, facts count for nothing, the government might not want to face a storm of criticism for destroying the environment.
It’s hard to know what to do. One solution might be to drop snakes from a plane, but even that has its drawbacks, because each time a snake catches a rat, it goes off to sleep for three months while it digests the prey, which means the surviving cannibal rats might simply eat the sleeping snakes, making the problem even worse.
No. I have the answer. Send in a single Jack Russell terrier, but only one, because two would fight with each other. It will immediately kill hundreds of rats and the rest will be so terrified they’ll jump over the side to get away from the crazy bastard.
Absurdity piled on absurdity with the collapse of Irish Psychics Live, a horrible business that preys on the insecurities of emotionally vulnerable people. In a remarkably prescient move, the previous owners jumped ship in 2009, selling the business to new owners who promptly made a gigantic loss. Tom Higgins, and his wife, Theresa Dunne, made €9 million from the deal when they sold the premium phone-call business to its new owners who clearly lacked Tom’s psychic ability to spot a doomed company.
This week, the Revenue Commissioners finally closed the whole thing down, not because of any ethical scruples but because it wasn’t paying the tax it owed. In my personal view, such businesses should be closed down as a matter of course in any civilised society, since they depend on the credulity of people who are already weakened. Tom Higgins and Theresa Dunne were selling absolute nonsense to people and charging €2.40 a minute for the privilege. Spend an hour every night on the phone to one of their fake psychics and you’ll soon find yourself penniless.
Can they sleep at night? I don’t know. We’ll have to ask a psychic.
Nuttiness piled on nuttiness this week when John Waters, a member of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, complained to RTÉ about an interview with Rory O’Neill, aka Miss Panti, during which O’Neill complained about homophobia. RTÉ duly complied with the threat and removed the interview from its website but, as Simon McGarr cogently argues here, Waters himself breached the terms of his BAI membership by claiming to have been defamed even though this was not tested in court. Waters resigned from the BAI a few days later for reasons that are not immediately clear.
However, since the theme of this post seems to be absurdity – as if John Waters was not absurd enough in his own right – the real story to be investigated concerns the flood of legal threats from people associated with the utterly ridiculous, ludicrous, beyond-absurd Iona Institute who all issued the same legal threat to RTÉ concerning Panti’s comments.
It was a clear attempt by an ultra-religious political group to silence people whose views it dislikes, much like the Newtownabbey Free Presbyterians.
Maybe there’s common ground between Catholics and Protestants after all, as long as they’re on the right-wing nutjob fringe, but maybe that’s all that matters, since most reasonable people of any persuasion get along fine anyway. Being reasonable. And not mad.
But finally, as if all that wasn’t insane enough, the big news this week is that the government has reopened its embassy where?
Mars? Narnia? Middle Earth? Gormenghast?
No. You’ll be delighted to know that we now have our embassy back in a state that has no citizens and no democracy, ruled by an unelected monarch, established by Benito Mussolini and boasting the lowest age of consent in Europe.
The Vatican of course. Where else?