‘Why I will not appear on Newstalk again’

Sir, – Fintan O'Toole has every right to tackle the host of Newstalk's High Noon radio show for his insensitive comments and dubious apology ("Why I will not appear on Newstalk again", Opinion & Analysis, September 12th).

He points out the insincerity of the “Poor auld George” shtick that Hook pulls whenever he has transgressed but then, without a hint of irony, launches into his own very unconvincing “Poor auld Fintan” routine; lamenting that his voice – being like that of an insignificant insect – will be squashed against the juggernaut-like windscreen of the Newstalk organisation.

You would swear that “Poor auld Fintan” was just a regular auld citizen or even just a regular auld hack, instead of the chief opinion writer for a national newspaper. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole in criticising Newstalk for its supposed strategy of imitating American talk radio – which may in fact be their intention, for all I know – derided the format thus: “The trick is to present reactionary clichés as if they were brave transgressions.”

I’m becoming very tired of this critique. Are reactionary clichés any worse than progressive clichés?

George Orwell famously said that, from the freedom to say two plus two equals four, all else follows. “Two plus two equals four” is certainly a cliché.

The sad truth is that there are many propositions that should indeed be no more than truisms, but which do in fact require courage to express today, and which urgently need to be expressed all the same.

Some examples; the fact that men and women are very different; the fact that free speech includes speech you hate; the fact that words are different from deeds; the fact that a Muslim who commits an act of terrorism in the name of his religion is a Muslim terrorist by definition; and so on.

Are “reactionaries” obliged to keep coming up with novel arguments to support obvious truths? Do we need original theorems to demonstrate that two and two equals four?

If statements that were once truisms have now become unspeakable, what does that say about Irish society today? – Yours, etc,




Dublin 11.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole won’t be appearing on Newstalk any more, he modestly informs us. Even such an assurance from Kevin Myers wouldn’t tempt me away from my beloved BBC Radio 4! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.