RTÉ – public service or public insult?

 

Sir, – Our national broadcaster RTÉ thought it appropriate to mark the new year by airing a comedy sketch that joked about God being a rapist.

Organisations such as Atheist Ireland have defended RTÉ’s actions on the grounds that the prohibition against blasphemy was recently removed from the Constitution.

However, just because an action is not identified as illegal in the Constitution in no way invalidates the Broadcasting Act’s provisions to prevent broadcasters from airing inappropriate content that is designed to cause offence deliberately.

A prominent Newstalk radio presenter’s career was blighted in recent years by insensitive comments he made about rape.

Yet RTÉ treating rape as a subject for humour, solely in order to taunt people of faith, is apparently celebrated in certain circles.

In a secular pluralist society, we should all be free to disagree with each other’s views. The ability to express that disagreement, and to engage in debate on such issues as faith and religion, is important.

Few, if any of us, would exchange that freedom for the intolerance that is sometimes enforced by both religious and atheistic regimes.

But freedom carries responsibilities. And a national broadcaster should be mindful of those responsibilities. – Yours, etc,

NICK PARK,

Executive Director,

Evangelical Alliance

Ireland,

Dublin 1.

A chara, – RTÉ chose to end 2020 by broadcasting a blasphemous and grossly unfunny “sketch”.

I cannot say I am disappointed, as it would imply that I expected better of RTÉ to begin with.

But I am saddened. RTÉ can only have known this broadcast would be distressing and offensive to every faithful Christian in this country.

To add insult to injury, RTÉ claims to have offered an “apology”, yet it refuses to remove the offending material.

Compounding the insult, Ireland’s Christians are forced to contribute money to this constant loss-making organisation in the form of an annual licence fee. – Is mise,

NICK FOLLEY,

Carrigaline,

Co Cork.

Sir, – One of the true tests of a pluralist society is surely the respect shown to the beliefs of others whose convictions we do not share.

Thus RTÉ would rightly be very reluctant, I believe, to broadcast material that makes fun of the sincerely held religious beliefs of minority groups. It would appear from the “God sketch” broadcast as part of the Waterford Whispers section of the New Year’s Eve show that this reluctance does not extend to the Christian beliefs of the majority of Irish people. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL McCANN,

Knocknacarra,

Galway.

Sir, – I wonder if RTÉ, and the “cutting edge” comedians who produced this trash, would be brave enough to mete out similar treatment to Islam and the prophet Mohammed. The answer to that question is self-evident. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL

HEFFERNAN,

Castleknock,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – The sketch on RTÉ showing a newsreader informing the public that God has been arrested and convicted for rape 2,000 years ago brings into sharp relief freedom of expression and the responsibilities that come with that right, but it also raises questions about RTÉ’s attitude to certain groups in our society.

The sketch highlights the partisan nature of RTÉ’s interpretation of religious sensitivity, and the selective wokeness that is endemic within RTÉ.

It goes out of its way to highlight how inclusive it is, and it should be inclusive. But that inclusivity only extends as far as certain groups. It does not obviously include Christians.

Others will say that no one has the right not to be offended, and that satire has a long an honourable tradition. But the satire shown on RTÉ as expressed in the “God sketch” is not edgy, and it is not challenging an omnipotent church. It is instead aimed at a church that has lost its power and is not in a position to fight back in any meaningful way.

If anyone doubts this, they should ask themselves if RTÉ would show a similar sketch depicting the prophet Mohammed. Any honest person would have to conclude that there is no possibility that RTÉ would ever, under any circumstances, show such a sketch. That could be for any number of reasons, including not wanting to cause offence to Muslims, especially as they are a minority and, in RTÉ’s woke world, minorities should always be spared offence. Another reason might be the fear of an attack such as that on the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

The sketch is not edgy or brave, but rather it is in poor taste and achingly unfunny. And that perhaps is its greatest sin. – Yours, etc,

TREVOR TROY,

Baile Átha Buí.­

Co na Mí.

A chara, – If RTÉ wishes to apologise, it should do so for broadcasting the sketch or for its content; otherwise, it should not apologise at all.

To apologise for offence caused is to invert the alleged transgression, to transfer blame from the sinner to those sinned against – saying in effect, if you weren’t so sensitive, there wouldn’t be any problem. – Is mise,

NEIL CRONIN,

Mallow,

Co Cork.

Sir, – Where is the judgment and oversight in RTÉ that would have prevented this appalling disgrace? – Yours, etc,

HILDA

GERAGHTY,

Shankill,

Dublin 18.