Breda O’Brien, of the Iona Institute, and Colm O’Gorman, of Amnesty Ireland, appeared on last night’s Late Debate on RTE Radio One.

The programme hosted by Audrey Carville began with a discussion about the recent Saturday Night Show/Miss Panti brouhaha…

Audrey Carville: “Before we get into the substantive discussion tonight, I want to mention the fact that, over the past number of days, RTÉ issued an apology and made a financial settlement to you, Breda, and to a number of others, including the Iona Institute and this followed allegations made on the Saturday Night Show, on television two weeks ago, during an interview with Rory O’Neill, who’s better known as drag queen, Panti Bliss. Now RTÉ have not issued a statement to us about this matter for our programme tonight. But Breda, as far as you’re concerned, has a line now been drawn under this?”

Breda O’Brien: “Yes, I think it’s really important that we have a rational and a calm debate and that people don’t reduce it to hurling insults at people to close down debate. I think RTÉ let its standards slip in that regard but they were big enough to come forward and to apologise and I’m certainly very pleased with that, very pleased to accept the apology and move forward..”

Carville: “Colm, O’Gorman, as an openly gay man, what do you make of all of this?”

Colm O’Gorman: “Well to be honest, I’m, I’m, well, to put it simply, I’m rather stunned by where all of this has gotten to and I don’t understand how we’re ever going to have a reasoned, or reasonable debate, if we can’t challenge each other’s viewpoints and even question what those viewpoints might be based upon. As it happens, I didn’t see the programme but when I saw it being reported, and some of the comments, that were being attributed to Rory, in the programme, I was lucky enough to grab before it was, on foot of legal action by Breda and others, removed and censored from the public airwaves. So I went into it and I listened to it and I have to say, I thought it was one of the most considered, inclusive, insightful explorations of how we are all capable of holding views that are discriminatory and that can cause us to make statements that are hurtful, that are damaging, that are destructive of other people. And what I heard Rory say is that we’re all capable of holding homophobic or racist, or xenophobic views and that we occasionally need to check ourselves, now I think that’s a really important discussion that we need to have. You know, to be honest, I don’t understand why anyone feels enormously insulted by being accused of being homophobic. I mean I’m a gay man and I’ve certainly been guilty of holding homophobic views – both views that I held about myself but also views I held about other sections of the LGBT community and other people who live lives in ways I perhaps didn’t understand.”

Carville: “You’re saying we’re all capable of being bias?”

O’Gorman: “We’re all capable of bias. We’re all capable of holding views that are based on discriminatory views, or internalised bigotry that we’ve taken on in other ways and I simply do not understand how challenging people, to examine the basis upon which they put forward certain arguments is defamatory and, you know, equally, quite frankly, I don’t think..People have a right, I think, to express views that other people might be offended by. Nobody has a right not to be offended. And I will defend Breda’s right and anybody else’s right to say things that I find offensive but I think I also have a right to name them as offensive and to seek to have a clear, rational, reasonable discussion about that.”

Carville: “Do you want to come back on that, Breda?”

O’Brien: “If it had been a case that it was talking about, in general, about all of us examining our consciences, I don’t think that I would have been, and other people would have been, in discussions with RTÉ. What it was about was naming a specific individual who was not there to defend herself and another individual who was not there to defend himself. It was claiming bad faith on their part, that they were, that my position, which is that a child, where possible, should be reared by their own mother and father, is now deemed homophobic commentary. RTÉ obviously felt that they had something to apologise for and the reason that they did so is because the legal definition of homophobia is that you have a fear and loathing, and suspicion of people who are gay, which is an appalling thing to throw at somebody. And I…it was then compounded later on by people in the Irish media, in their columns, saying that people who are against marriage equality, if you want to use that term, that people who are against that, are people who are responsible for gay people being beaten, murdered, fired from their jobs and that there should be a defamation watchdog set up so that people couldn’t express these views. Now this is very far from a rational and calm debate. This is actually going way into the territory of saying that we will declare your views out of order before you even begin. And I don’t think the Irish people want that. Like, during referendums regarding abortion, people were immoderate on my side of the fence and I always called them out when they were, when they used appalling expressions. I think we have a right in this debate to have the same level of respect, mutual respect and that you don’t label people and that you don’t dismiss their good faith. And, really, I think, I came here tonight to talk about Catholic education, I think it would be really good if we got onto that debate.”

O’Gorman: “Well..”

Carville: “Just briefly, Colm..”

O’Gorman: “Yeah, absolutely. I do think this has been a very, very damaging incident. and I really do think RTE needs to explain the basis upon which they felt entitled or required to pay damages from taxpayers’ funds on the basis of this. If this was indeed defamatory then indeed the rationale or the basis, upon which RTE believes this was defamatory, needs to be explained.”


Listen in full here.

Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland, YouTube

53 thoughts on “Late De Hate

  1. missred

    A woman who is a member of a homophobic organisation and will never suffer that kind of discrimination has F*CK-ALL right to try and define what it is or isn’t

  2. Salmon of Nollaig

    Breda O’Brien’s definition – or any one else’s definition – of homophobia is irrelevant in circumstances where Rory specifically defined what he meant by homophobia in the transcript.

    “What it boils down to is if you’re going to argue that gay people need to be treated in any way differently than everybody else or should be in anyway less, or their relationships should be in anyway less then I’m sorry, yes you are a homophobe and the good thing to do is to sit, step back, recognise that you have some homophobic tendencies and work on that. ”

    He did not call anyone a homophobe out of the blue. He defined what he meant by the term and not only is his definition of it not defamatory but it is actually true in that all the individuals concerned are opposed to gay marriage.

    In addition when you read the transcript the term ‘homophobe’ was primarily used re. John Waters.

    In relation to Breda and Iona, all that he said was that she ‘really cheese[d]’ and “that are people out there in the world who devote quite a large amount of their time and energies to trying to stop people you know, achieving happiness because that is what the people like the Iona Institute are at.”

    Those comments are not defamatory. Indeed on the same crap reasoning you could argue Rory has been defamed by being accused unfairly of making defamatory comments.

    This is completely daft as there are so many reasons why Breda and Iona, in particular, does not have a defamation case. it would be funny if it were just money wasted, but it goes beyond that and affects the future of public debate in this country.

    1. Medium Sized C

      I’m in two minds on that point.

      I mean its right, but also, you can’t just make up definitions for words which are already so loaded.
      Because there is a certain understanding of the meaning of a word and really we can take what ever meaning we like. A person can reject his definition in claiming that calling them a homophobe and point to the harm it does to their representation.

      I mean surely the harm it does to ones good name isn’t the harm it does in the view of the guy who called you the name, but in the view of the observers. And at that I think its a stretch to say he defined what he meant by homophobe. Its kind of retroactive logic. He didn’t, really. He just equated holding a viewpoint with being a homophobe.

      I agree with him, I just think he fucked up in his choice of words.

      1. Cean

        Yet Breda can claim she was called a homophobe for her view on children and parents. So how can she define a homophobe but Rory can’t? Especially as Rory didn’t mention children and parents?

        That’s where my issue is.

        1. Medium Sized C

          She can’t, and she is blatantly wrong in that “legal definition crap”
          But this bit is important, this isn’t a play ground argument ffs.

          Rory said some stuff that could be construed as calling Breda O’Brien & the Iona Institute a homophobe/homophobes. Her description of her own beliefs are completely irrelevant to that fact. Her definition of homophobia is also irrelevant to the fact.
          In fact ALL OF THIS STUFF IS IRRELEVANT because RTE didn’t for what ever reason choose to contest the claim.

          Breda hasn’t said anything here that could be called defamation of Rory.
          So talking about it like it is some sort of tit-for-tat thing is nonsense.

          1. Cean

            That’s the issue though! That RTE took the Iona’s view on homophobia and allowed Iona to define the issue and silence it.

            It’s not with Breda or Rory it’s the way RTE handled the whole thing!

          2. Medium Sized C

            (unless you either know the reasons why RTE chose the course of action, i.e. you were one of the people who made the call or you have some evidence as to why they made the call.)
            That is your heavily loaded interpretation of the issue.

            What happened is RTE got a legal threat and for reasons not known to you or I
            they chose to settle.

            It is absurd to say they took Ionas definition of homophobia from that. Even if they did you cannot say that in anything other than speculation.

            They accepted that the parties who made the threats may have been defamed with no right to defend themselves and that as the publisher of the show, they are responsible for that defamation.

            IF a court found that there was defamation, RTE would be liable. They are entitled to protect themselves from defamation, even if you or I think the claim is absurd. They did not allow Iona to define the issue and we wouldn’t be talking about a news item ON the issue a week later if they had silenced the issue.

          3. Cean

            I’m finding it hugely mystifying that you are saying “you don’t know what RTE” did and you are doing the same thing!

            It’s your interpretation of the issue too!

            If you listen to the audio clip you’ll even hear the presenter say that RTE did not furnish them with a commentary about the lawsuit.

          4. Cean

            It is absurd to say they took Ionas definition of homophobia from that. Even if they did you cannot say that in anything other than speculation.

            “They accepted that the parties who made the threats may have been defamed with no right to defend themselves and that as the publisher of the show, they are responsible for that defamation.”

            You know this for a fact or this speculation on your behalf?

          5. Medium Sized C

            They made a public statement to that effect.

            Now, I know what comes next, you respond with some sneering bollox about how that is just a story or I am naieve or whatever, but here is the thing, what you are accusing them of, comes exclusively from your head.

            Me saying the chose to settle a defamation claim is fact, it is on record.
            You saying the chose to stifle free speech, redefine homophobia and allow the Iona to kill a debate WHICH IS STILL FECKIN RAGING, is your imagination.

          6. Cean

            RTE made no public statement. TDs have asked why Iona were paid by RTE and not received an answer.

            Can you show me RTE’s statement please?

          7. Medium Sized C

            Sorry, I assumed they had.
            So congratulations, you win internets for being so persistant in your argument that your arguement changed wildly from one wrong thing to another wrong thing untill you found something in my point to pick on that IN NO WAY invalidates what I was saying.

            Enjoy your keyboard.

          8. Cean

            Sorry you went on your high horse about how people don’t know what RTE did and it’s all their interpretation. All based on your mistaken belief that RTE have issued a statement.

            You’re damn right I won that argument.

  3. Cean

    “It was claiming bad faith on their part, that they were, that my position, which is that a child, where possible, should be reared by their own mother and father, is now deemed homophobic commentary”

    That was not mentioned at all by Rory on his interview.

    “What it boils down to is if you’re going to argue that gay people need to be treated in any way differently than everybody else or should be in anyway less, or their relationships should be in anyway less then I’m sorry, yes you are a homophobe “

    1. Cean

      Breda’s other comments

      “Gay people deserve rights and recognition. However, a same-sex relationship cannot provide a child with a mother and a father. This makes it profoundly different to marriage. Therefore, it is not discriminatory to treat same-sex relationships differently.”

      “It is never pleasant to take a stance like this, and it must be a thousand times less pleasant to be the person who is told that important values like equality must take second place to the common good. I would prefer if the conflict could be wished away, but it can’t.”


      1. bruce01

        “Therefore, it is not discriminatory to treat same-sex relationships differently.”
        Therefore, it is not discriminatory to treat anything that is different differently.

  4. Pedanto

    1. That is not the “legal definition” of homophobia. O’Neill said precisely what he meant by the term, and what he meant was perfectly sensible.

    2. Nobody mentioned her preferences for a two-parent family.

    3. If she insists that she’s not homophobic, maybe she’d like to explain her last article on the subject, where her analogies for gay people making love included gluttony and lying.

    4. “My discrimination against gay people does not proceed from fear or hatred. Therefore I am not homophobic.” This seems to be the only argument they have, and someone should call them on it. But not on RTE, obviously.

  5. Ron

    Every member of the Iona Institute should be made sit down and watch this movie. It defines our generation on matters like this.

  6. bewildered

    I don’t understand why not one, but two Iona members were on this panel last night? Am I missing something, it was discussion about education right? I say this not just because of what has unfolded over the past two weeks but in general, why are representatives of the Iona Institute given airtime time and time again. It baffles.

  7. Ray

    ” there should be a defamation watchdog set up so that people couldn’t express these views”

    Hold on, this is what O’Brien is _against_?
    But she just threatened to sue someone for expressing views that she thought were defamatory.

    This ability to hold two contradictory thoughts at once, is it a Catholic thing? Something they teach you in Opus Dei?

    1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

      Why should anyone be afraid of a defamatory watchdog if they don’t say defamatory things??

    2. Clampers Outside!

      It’s not a Catholic thing, no…

      “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Crack-Up”, Esquire Magazine (February 1936)

      It would also hold true for what Rory says in that we are all a little racist and homophobic but in various degrees and we need to an awareness of that. Breda is not aware of it.

      Breda isn’t holding two conflicting ideas, she has one. And waters it down in fluff speak about family in order to hide her (I believe) straining homophobic tendencies. I get this from reading her pieces, not from anyone else but from what she herself has written. And, this is what Rory was speaking about.

  8. lolly

    I agree with the comments from pedanto, missred and others above wholeheartedly. I really wish Colm O’Gorman had been firmer and angrier with her. The time for measured subtle debate with the likes of her and her cohorts is over imo, they have upped the stakes with their writs and they need to be properly called out as homophobic bigots. this is my opinion of what they are and they can sue me if they want.

  9. Ernie Ball

    “Yes, I think it’s really important that we have a rational and a calm debate and that people don’t reduce it to hurling insults at people to close down debate.”

    Yes, I much prefer that people use the threat of lawsuits rather than insults to close down debate…

    1. Mr Meh.

      That was the bit that had me spluttering. I listened to the rest of the debate about education and it’s atually mind numbing that these people actually exist in real life.

  10. Jane

    Poor old Definitely NOT A Homphobe of Definitely NOT Homophobes United. How dreadful to be so misunderstood. I think it’s a wilful misreading of measured expressions of sincere concern by well, you know. Them. I don’t know why they aren’t happy with the way things are. I think they are and are only a load of troublemakers who are only doing it to look good in front of, well, you know who. Not that I’ve anything against them or anything, but if it was natural we’d all be at it. But we aren’t. So, you know…

  11. Popeye

    It’s so interesting how people from Iona and those who share their views keep trying to shoehorn the idea that children should be raised by their own parents where possible is somehow under threat by gays and gay marriage. Gay people aren’t going to start kidnapping children from loving heterosexual parents as soon as gay marriage becomes a reality. The only children who tend to be adopted are those who don’t have parents who can look after them. It’s such a bizarre stance to keep repeating everywhere as a part of this debate.

  12. Jane

    Indeed, and strongly suggests that they’re unaware of the fact that gay people can – and do – have children already, by the same means as notgay people. So it’s a bit of a futile argument. I imagine they think that’s the least homophobic they can possibly sound though. Not that there’s any reason to use people who make that argument in the same sentence as the word “homophobe/ic”. That was a pure accident. They’re definitely, definitely not.

  13. dee

    Why are these people brought into debates about education? And most things? I don’t understand why they are continuously wheeled out as some sort of knowledge base?

  14. Al

    O’Gorman said “I don’t understand why anyone feels enormously insulted by being accused of being homophobic” and this seems to be the basis of most of the defense of Rory’s comments.

    Somehow, I don’t think he’d argue that gay-bashing should be treated as common assault. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d expect him to argue that homophobia was an aggravating factor.

    Now either homophobia is something bad that should not be acceptable in normal discourse (in which case it’s probably defamatory to accuse someone of being a homophobe) or homophobia is just part of a range of acceptable behavior.

    Coming up with your own definition of homophobia doesn’t make it non-defamatory – why bother using the homophobia label at all if you weren’t trying to imply something negative?

    1. Ernie Ball

      Calling someone “homophobic” is defamatory, provided it’s untrue.

      Lost in all this is how much the right-wing homophobes have conceded on this. By threatening legal action for defamation, they’ve effectively admitted that being a homophobe is a bad thing to be. That alone indicates that the Overton Window has moved. Eventually, these people will look as silly as American segregationists and anti-miscegenationists do now.

  15. Jane

    Well the thing is, if they’re big enough and straight-talking enough to bravely take on the jackbooted forces of the stifling poltical correctness forced on us by the D4 set and the meejia that is destroying our once-great country and say homophobic things, then why would they not accept the label? .

  16. Bogman

    Think the message is that if you’re going to send out the LGBT soldiers, make sure they know their legals. Right and wrong is very different from legal and illegal.

  17. pedeyw

    Does anyone know if there is a legal definition for Homophobia in Ireland?
    I wonder would they have demanded damages if he had said like Anti-gay, rather than homophobic.

  18. Ron

    From bocktherobber.com:

    Wasn’t Tom Savage once a catholic priest?

    Isn’t Tom Savage Chairman of the RTÉ Board?

    Didn’t Tom Savage set up The Communications Clinic with his wife Terry Prone, who is now its chairperson?

    Aren’t Fine Gael one Communications Clinic’s biggest clients?

    Wasn’t Senator Ronan Mullen of the Iona Institute very vociferous in insisting that Tom Savage not resign in the wake of the Father Kevin Reynolds affair?

    Aren’t the Iona Institute sort of an aggressive PR company for the very powerful Catholic Church?

    Wouldn’t we all love to know what the fup is going on and when this incestuousness will end?

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