Regular readers of An Sionnach Fionn are likely aware of my vociferous opposition to political censorship and my belief that free speech is something that cannot, and should not, be curtailed. However, stout defenders of civic freedoms must also be ruthless guardians of those self same freedoms. They must act with care to ensure that the right to express genuinely-held opinions is not taken advantage of, that it is not used as a mechanism to subvert and undermine democracy itself. As distant observers, we have seen in the very recent past how the media’s inadvertent decision to “mainstream” such political mavericks as Nigel Farage in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump in the United States has led to catastrophic outcomes for those nations. We cannot allow the same thing to happen to this island nation.
Whatever the anomalous levels of support for Peter Casey during October’s presidential election, we must not permit the businessman and his populous right-wing utterances to become a normalised part of our national discourse. His views must remain where they belong, on the edges of acceptable society, sentiments unrepresentative of the citizenry as a whole. RTÉ’s decision to invite the Derry-born entrepreneur onto The Late Late Show, a prestigious and storied light entertainment show, gives his political views undue and dangerous respectability where none is deserved.
It goes without question that Casey should be subject to interview and discussion in the country’s news and current affairs programming, both on television and radio. His unfounded and divisive claims should be challenged and debated. But these are not apt subjects for a congenial venue where he can act the amiable star. To grant him undue notoriety or celebrity, to soften his sharp edges, is to fall into the same trap that Farage and Trump laid for the unwary press in the UK and US, and which Ireland’s own Fourth Estate and its associates seem ready to jump into in relation to the Derry man.
As a defeated candidate for the presidency, the former American resident may require a platform of some sort, reflecting his strong electoral showing. But RTÉ and the media in general must select such platforms with studious care. A cosy, laid-back TV chat show with a friendly presenter and an invariably generous audience is no place for a promulgator of victim-blaming, whether the victims are picked by community or class.
I disagree with you on the “unwary” press portion. They are far from naive or stupid. Those scoundrels know exactly that when they can get us all riled up it means a whole lot of money to them. There haven’t been this many people watching the “news” in a long time – pure money! They are just playing us for fools. A controversial figure in a high place is pure gold to them. Battle in the streets over trivial political idiocy – more money! Scapegoating people and instigating violence upon them – great way to mix things up and report on the disaster while the television and news junkies get plastered with advertisement. People getting hurt or killed – more money, more means to sow divisiveness, more eager listeners and watchers for twists and modified video and sound bites. As for controversial figures getting there, it is up to us to speak at the ballot box (every time we get the chance). Had the britz in opposition done that, there would have been no Brexit. Obviously, the polls are skewed on purpose, they weren’t the last to be lulled into a false security regarding an election outcome that year.
Can’t disagree more with this. You routinely (and rightly) castigate the Irish electorate for sticking with FF and FG and now you want to shove the most categoric statement to ever come from a presidential election right back under the carpet.
The parallels you’re drawing to Brexit and Trump and the rise of populism are a hype fostered in the usual echo chambers where people can’t understand why people just don’t vote the right way. There’s no connection whastsoever between the three situations other than a groundswell of noisy hangers-on who’ve been ignored by mainstream politics for a long time.
Casey, for all that he has no business in politics, was selected as a conduit by a quarter of the electorate. Who better to give voice to that protest vote? You? Me? A nice reasonable man from RTÉ? All the various party alickadoos who’ve obviously lost their confidence already?
Casey is a gal soip, he’ll blow away with the first gust of wind if his issues are given a legitimate airing. The only thing that could give him any continuing relevance is to censor him, make him the man the authorities tried to shut down. Let him speak and make a fool of himself and his arguments. Draw the poison.
He got 342,727 votes how many did you?
Casey is an abnocious bully with a few pounds,sorry dollars. He thinks because he “made it” he has the right to become an Irish Nigel Farage. He got 350 thousand votes. Big deal. If the people of this country agreed with him that much he would be sitting in wee Higgins chair right now. As for him paying his taxes, who to?. As Bradhar says will disappear like a fart in the wind and not a minute too soon. As for the media inadvertently doing anything, OMG, asf I’m shocked at you.
by the way, I still think he is a divisive Gombeen type but you got to deals with the reality not dismiss it like Leo tried to do
Every republican I know ( myself included ) voted for him , so you’re missing a trick .