Gavan Reilly

thinking out loud

“And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger”

with 14 comments

So “the powers that be want action taken” on Conor Casby’s nude portraits of the Taoiseach that appeared in the National Gallery and the Royal Hibernian Academy.

For anyone who didn’t catch it, RTE were asked to remove the online footage of Monday’s news report from their website, and to broadcast an on-air apology for the piece.

Today on his radio show, Ray D’Arcy (who happily and freely named the artist on the show, incidentally) said that the Gardaí had been in touch wanting to speak to Casby and to charge him with three crimes: “Incitement, indecency and criminal damage.”

On the show (kudos to Cian of Irish Election who grabbed the audio, which you can listen to here) D’Arcy explains the reasoning behind the three charges. At about the same time, meanwhile (about 10.35am for fifteen minutes), FF backbencher Michael Kennedy went on Today with Pat Kenny and tried to defend the apology request.

Kennedy’s major point was that while he had no problem with the Sunday Tribune (who first broke the story, let it be noted) publishing a piece, RTE featuring it was another matter, partially because it’s taxpayer funded, but mostly because it was disrespectful to the position and office of Taoiseach.

God forbid Michael Kennedy should ever be Taoiseach. If he does, we’ll never have anything to continue the Scrap Saturday / Bull Island / Nob Nation tradition that RTE has forged for itself. Even The Panel will probably be pulled for the guff it offers.

When the audio goes up later today (it’ll be here when it does) skip forward to about 50 minutes in. You’ll hear endless dialogue such as:

“I’ve just been handed a picture here of President Obama sitting naked on a toilet.”
“Is that broadcast on national airwaves?”
“I assume so. It’s part of their proud national tradition of toilet humour.”
“But it’s not on a national broadcaster.”

The fact that the United States doesn’t have a public broadcaster apparently being void here. Finally, though, he gets his comeuppance.

“I have a picture here, from the BBC Politics Show, of Gordon Brown in a compromising position” [Note these aren’t direct quotes, I’m working from memory here].
“Is that on a public broadcaster though?”
“Yes, it’s the BBC’s Politics Show [presumably the Daily Politics on BBC Two] for the world to see.”
“Right.” And there’s a stunned silence.

Kennedy has already been calling for Cathal Goan, RTE’s Director-General, to resign over his decision to air the piece. Too right he should resign: he should have had the balls to take on the Government who, let it be reminded, don’t pay for the service themselves.

Mulley says it best in his outright disgust:

Let’s set a date and start a protest, let’s bring all the world’s press together and have them record caricatures of a naked man from the sticks. Let’s keep the momentum going. Let’s send naked pics of Cowen via MMS to each other and wave our phones, let’s encourage the opposition parties to wave these phones in the Dáil. Have them wear t-shirts under their shirts/blouses. Let’s walk up and down outside RTE news broadcasts. Please please please don’t roll over on this because next time we won’t know what else the news is hiding from us.

Get this caricature by Alan Cavanagh, print it on an A3, and put it in your window. Let’s see them stifle that. Let’s make the freedom of our press an election issue for June. Let’s print this poster onto backing boards and put it on lampposts alongside party candidates.


Brian Cowen naked

Edit: You can also buy this caricature on a T-Shirt with proceeds going to the Rape Crisis Centre.

Suzy has a take too.

Edit 2: Apparently the artist’s name is “Caspy”, mistakes fixed.


Written by Gav

March 25th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

14 Responses to '“And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger”'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to '“And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger”'. Comments are Gravatar enabled.

  1. What are they going to do about the BBC covering the story? http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article5971027.ece
    It’s gone global now.

    If the Gardai are going to charge with criminal damage, incitement and indecency (are nude bloated bellies indecent?), they also need to charge the security staff who heard nothing when nails to hang the paintings with were presumably being hammered into the plasterwork with ading. This is unbelievable. Cowen could easily make this go away – all he has to say is “let a prank be a prank, lets laugh at ourselves and forget it.” He clearly has a giant poker up his arse. Maybe that is why he looks so constipated on the loo. FFs inability to laugh at themselves will do nothing to enhance their popularity ratings! :-)

    laura

    25 Mar 09 at 1:48 pm

  2. […] Gav Reilly is pissed off […]

  3. […] much covered in the blogs, and we’re quite late getting to it. Best coverage I’ve found is here, which includes a link through to Ray D’Arcy naming the artist live on air, and the original […]

  4. If it was your father or mother being made a fool of on the evening news and in the galleries, would you be so smug??? Brian Cowen has 2 young daughters and a wife, you know. Which is more than you have if you have all this time to try and ridicule the man. Get a life!!! I KNOW you won’t print this UNCOOL view on your biased, narrow-minded page but at least I got it out of my system.

    Ed

    25 Mar 09 at 5:59 pm

  5. Ah, Ed, whoever you are, I pity your pessimism in thinking I wouldn’t print your comment – not being of the Cowen School of Dissent Management I have no problem dealing with people who disagree with me. Are you one of those types who thinks bloggers are a motley crew of rabblerousers who can’t ever be satisfied too? Cheers for the suggestion that I haven’t the time for a wife or kids aswell by the way, as a 22-year-old final year student I’m happy to report I have no intention of children right now, and nor does my long-term girlfriend.

    So. Did I know that Brian Cowen has a wife and two children? Yes, yes I did. Would I know what its like? Well, having been in public office (admittedly of negligable importance) before, and being close to someone who currently occupies a fairly major one, yes, actually, I do know what it’s like to have someone near and dear to you becoming a media plaything.

    If I were Taoiseach, would I be quite so smug? Therein is the crux. If I ever volunteered myself for public office to the point where I was the head of the Government, then I’d like to think I was happy to participate in a fully democratic country, with Constitutional guarantees of the freedom of speech (Article 40.6.1(i) here) and such – just like I am now, on my “biased, narrow-minded page” that allows all and sundry to publicise their opinions in return. Thus I ought not to have any major problems with the national media, as funded by the public-at-large, doing what they want. If you volunteer yourself for public life, you endorse the democratic system that puts you there, warts and all, including the freedom of society to satirise itself and its leaders, including oneself. If you’re not happy with being an object of fun then you don’t volunteer yourself for public life, and you certainly don’t wait until you’ve been the leader of the country for nine months before you decide you’d rather not be made fun of. That’s part and parcel of public life and it’s a fundamental facet of a functioning democracy.

    Listen, Ed, if anyone is offended by what appears on the news – or any other TV broadcast in Ireland – they can freely lodge a complaint with the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and have it neutrally dealt with. What happened here is that the Government press officer complained directly to RTE, kicked up a fuss, and RTE were essentially bullied into retracting all mention of the piece and publically apologising for it. So instead of abiding by proper procedure, RTE were basically told what to do, and not merely offer an opinion or suggestion in that regard.

    There’s two offending parties here, Fianna Fáil for demanding an apology, and RTE for rolling over and giving it to them.

    Have you ever listened to, and liked, a Nob Nation sketch? Were you a Bull Island viewer? Can you remember Scrap Saturday? Have you ever laughed at a political joke on The Panel? If you have, or if you value your right to, you ought to be very pissed off with how the Government is dealing with this kind of dissent. If you don’t, fair enough, that’s your opinion.

    But, then again, apparently on this “biased, narrow-minded page” I don’t tolerate that kind of thing. ;-)

    Gav

    25 Mar 09 at 6:21 pm

  6. Ed,

    I am one of your ‘young daughter’ types, my father isn’t a politican, but as good as. I’ve opened envelopes with death threats and bullets meant for him. I’d reckon Sinead and Maedhbh Cowen (lovely girls they are too) have been subjected to worse over the past few months. It’s shitty little cartoon, a feckless stunt of nothingness, a scribblingof a public figure, it’s what happens in a country (that ONCE was) built on humour and satire.

    Oh and I’m also Gav’s partner of 3 years and I’ll be sure to tell you when we have two of our own for you to protect and jump to the rescue of when someone draws a nudie picture of their Daddy.

    JUST had to get that out of my system, you know how it is Ed.

    Ciara

    25 Mar 09 at 6:47 pm

  7. RTE did not paint the pictures, RTE did not break into the national gallery, RTE did not hang the pictures, RTE did not lampoon Brian Cowen’s appearence. RTE meerly reported that someone did these things and got away unnoticed. Will RTE now be apologisizing for the next hurricane in the Carribean or the weekly redundancy roll call !?! For RTE there can be nothing to apologize over, only the artist can apologize as he alone offended Mr.Cowen.

    More importantly I would call on Mr.Cowen to apologise immediatly for using his position as Taoiseach to influence editorial control on the main evening news of the state broadcaster. In Ireland in the year is 2009 our “glorious leader” does not understand the critical role free press plays in a healthy democracy.

    Kieran

    25 Mar 09 at 7:30 pm

  8. […] Loathing in North Tipperary | Ferghal Sexton | Foreign Policy | Functioning Alcoholic | Fústar | Gav Reilly | Gavin here, here, here and here | gaelick | Gombeen Nation | Guardian | Head Rambles | Hugh […]

  9. […] Gadget Republic | Gaius C | Gav Reilly | Gavin here, here, here and here | gaelick here and here | Gombeen Nation | Grand Gesture | […]

  10. It may seem excessive to credit the squalid affair of the Casby paintings with representing a threat to democracy, but undoubtedly such vacuous interventions are becoming increasingly the norm in a culture valuing far above ideas a propensity for “the craic”.

    Intrinsically devoid of intellectual content, they nevertheless cumulatively contribute to a climate in which public discourse is cheapened and debased, rendering it less likely that people of intelligence and sensitivity will participate. What kind of society do we expect such a culture to conceive?

    ED

    1 Apr 09 at 6:11 pm

  11. Here’s the Full Context of John Waters article and it’s TRUE

    OPINION: CONOR CASBY, the artist claiming responsibility for the notorious nude paintings of the Taoiseach hung for a “joke” in the National Gallery and RHA, has said that he wants to let the paintings “speak for themselves”, writes JOHN WATERS

    He did not intimate what he thinks they might be saying. That the artist has an infantile obsession with toilet humour? That he nurtures some deep animus towards politicians?

    That he cannot draw?

    The only amusing thing here is Casby’s deluded belief that he has something to say. His response is typical of a public discourse almost fatally degraded by internet auto-eroticism and an obsession with what is called “comedy”. His works are crude, unfunny, vindictive, without intrinsic content and wholly lacking in artistic merit.

    They would never have been heard of had the national broadcaster not misplaced its editorial instincts and, faced with an alternative between soberly reporting a minor crime and engaging in a snide attack on the Taoiseach, chose the latter.

    This episode, which continues to be misused by a media increasingly debased in its desire to pursue popular opinion to the gutter and below, comprised four separate elements.

    First there was the execution of these grotesque, bad paintings. There is nothing exceptionable in this, since schoolboys have been making similar sketches on their copybooks for as long as copybooks have existed. In a balanced culture, Casby (a teacher!) would never have been heard of.

    The second phase involved a breach of security at a national institution.

    The third stage involved the news division at the national broadcaster choosing to ignore this element in favour of an, at best, thoughtless exercise in humiliating the Taoiseach and bringing his office into public contempt. RTÉ has rightly issued an official apology for this breach of its public duty.

    The fourth stage is the aftermath, with some media people determined to wring every last snigger out of these distasteful daubs and suggesting that anyone who objects has no “sense of humour”.

    On his radio show, Pat Kenny implied that RTÉ should not have apologised for reporting the story as it did. If someone produced a similar portrait of himself, he would buy it and hang in in his toilet, so that visitors there could get “a bit of a laugh”.

    The difference between himself and Brian Cowen, he asserted, was that he, Pat Kenny, has “a sense of humour”.

    Well, no. One difference is that Brian Cowen is Taoiseach and Pat Kenny is not. A second is that these paintings were not hung in the toilet of a private house, but placed in two prestigious galleries, without permission.

    The idea that everything exists to be laughed at is now almost unchallengeable.

    The internet has reduced public debate to the level of a drunken argument, in which no holds are barred, in which deeply unpleasant people get to voice their ignorant opinions in the ugliest terms, in the name of “free speech”. The idea that we all need “a laugh” has allowed the “joke” to become elevated beyond everything. Nobody may object if others have declared something “funny”.

    What is so important about people being enabled to indulge themselves in nervous spasms triggered by, for example, cultural incongruities, that all other criteria – good taste, decency, human dignity – must be jettisoned? Much of what is now called humour is bullying, picking on an individual or group for a cheap guffaw. Anyone who doesn’t think this hilarious has “no sense of humour” – than which no more serious indictment is possible.

    In his 2004 book What the Media Are Doing to Our Politics , author John Lloyd cited David Steel, the former leader of the British Liberal Party, in his belief that his portrayal in the sketches on Spitting Image destroyed the chances of the then alliance between his party and the Social Democrats replacing the Labour Party as the main party of opposition. Spitting Image invariably showed Steel as the fawning puppet of SDP leader David Owen.

    Elaborating on the power of such crude stereotypes, Lloyd wrote: “Once again, choices made by electors were being very substantially altered by media; and because of the nature of the culture which assumed a right to intrude ever more decisively into what had been forbidden territory, not only was nothing being done about it, no serious questions were even being asked about it. Politicians became, in a variety of ways, more and more scorned, and could barely object. The media would not allow it, it had been defined as a joke, millions of people liked it . . . and thus its effects – whatever they are – cannot sensibly be discussed.”

    It may seem excessive to credit the squalid affair of the Casby paintings with representing a threat to democracy, but undoubtedly such vacuous interventions are becoming increasingly the norm in a culture valuing far above ideas a propensity for “the craic”.

    Intrinsically devoid of intellectual content, they nevertheless cumulatively contribute to a climate in which public discourse is cheapened and debased, rendering it less likely that people of intelligence and sensitivity will participate. What kind of society do we expect such a culture to conceive?

    ED

    1 Apr 09 at 6:13 pm

  12. I’m not going to tolerate the opinion of a writer, whether nationally published or not, who can’t understand the value or the internet, of blogs, or the ability that medium has to connect public figures to those to whom they are responsible.

    Opinion void. Next?

    Gav

    1 Apr 09 at 6:17 pm

  13. […] much covered in the blogs, and we’re quite late getting to it. Best coverage I’ve found is here, which includes a link through to Ray D’Arcy naming the artist live on air, and the original […]

  14. Hi I reach this site when i was searching bing for this

    Brandy Mainland

    16 Jan 10 at 8:12 pm

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.