Hatred, Malice, Bad Faith And Me



[John Waters (top and Patsy McGarry]

Further to Pantigate, etc., etc.

Seán O’Rourke played a (pre-recorded) interview with John Waters on RTE Radio One’s Today With Seán O’Rourke this morning.

Grab a tay.

Sean O’Rourke: “Now the past three months have been a time of upheaval in the life of journalist and author, John Waters. It began in January when he was described as a homophobe on RTÉ’s television’s Saturday Night Show. The station apologised and paid him €40,000 in defamation damages, unleashing a torrent of criticism of RTE, of John Waters himself, and of the Iona Institute, whose members were also compensated. More recently, John Waters resigned as a columnist with the Irish Times, saying that the highly toxic of illiberal antagonism towards particular viewpoints exists at the heart of the paper’s editorial operation. That’s what he wrote in a long article in the current issue of Village magazine. So when he came into studio, I first asked John Waters if he’d any regrets at all about threatening to sue RTE and then taking the money?”

John Waters: “No, I don’t because all I did was I sent, I got my solicitor to send a letter requesting an apology, a clarification for what had happened. And there was a lot of prevarication which followed on that. And, because of that, we lost the first opportunity for an apology which is the most critical moment, the week afterwards. So things escalated from then and this society offers as a means of recompensing somebody who’s being defamed, just two things. One of them is an apology done in the quickest possible time and the other is damages. And therefore the process which requires, which arose, occurred because of the prevarication of RTÉ. This could have been sorted out on day one with an apology and a minimal cost, a donation to charity, to St Vincent De Paul, that’s all that was asked for. So I’ve no regrets about that. And I never will have regrets about defending my reputation because it’s vitally important for a commentator, of any kind, to preserve the one thing they have, which is their reputation, their credibility in the public sphere.”

O’Rourke: “And you’re emphatic that if RTÉ had been prepared to include the following, which you quote in your, or which you reproduced in your article in Village magazine this month. There would have been no more about it. “We accept that it is an important part of democratic debate that people must be able to hold dissenting views on controversial issues, without characterisations of malice, hatred or bad faith”.”

Waters: “Absolutely right. I mean, it’s vitally important that it be seen that I’d intervene, my job was to intervene in public debate and have controversial views and have robust views and if you can be portrayed and presented as being motivated by malice or hatred in what you say, then you’re entirely disabled as a commentator. And, so for that reason, it’s vitally important that I preserve my, the sense that I have, that I actually contribute intellectually debates, on the basis of my understanding of the issues, not because I hate particular individuals or because I hate any particular kind of individual, that’s indispensable to my role as a public commentator.”

O’Rourke: “But, at the same time though, as I said earlier in the introduction, a torrent of criticism, of RTÉ in the first instance, for caving in to what was seen as pressure from yourself, and the Iona Institute and others, and not standing up for robust debate.”

Waters: “Well you see I think, this word debates keeps coming up. But there’s no right to defame as part of debate. I’ve been writing columns for the Irish Times for 24 years. If I defame somebody I’ll be sued. And if we lose a case, I’ll probably have got fired. But there’s no right, there’s no free speech right to defame someone, just steal somebody’s reputation because how can you answer this kind of charge?”

O’Rourke: “Well, right of reply the following week, you were offered that…”

Waters: “A right of reply can work, if there’s an allegation put forward of a factual nature which you can respond to ad seriatum. This was not that kind of allegation, it was simply part of a smear. It wasn’t, and interestingly it wasn’t the first time it happened. This arose a couple of years ago during the Presidential election campaign when, if you recall Seán, there was a controversy about [Senator and former Presidential candidate] David Norris and an interview he had given to Magill magazine. At the time, which, back in 2002, when I was the consultant editor, and I became embroiled in that, defending Helen Lucy Burke’s position because she was attacked that time. And I was called a homophobe on a programme on TV3. Now I raised this issue with the programme in question, I asked for an apology and the apology was given immediately, so there was no money changed hands, there was no question of money. I didn’t even ask for my lawyers fees. So the same could have happened this time if RTÉ had acted with alacrity and with a degree of gravity with regard to what had actually happened.”

O’Rourke: “You wrote as well that, in the aftermath of this, or at the height of it maybe, I don’t know, maybe it’s still going on, it became unsafe for you to walk down the street. Really?”

Waters: “Yes, I felt that, whether that was objectively true in the sense that, obviously a lot of this can occur in one’s mind but, at the same time, there were a number of incidents which were disquieting, you know people would come on..Mostly, I would have to say, they kind of, a dominant note of these was the cowardice of the individuals concerned because they almost invariably came up to me on bicycles and start roaring ‘homophobe’ at me, or ‘f-ing homophone’ or whatever and then scooting off. And this kind of thing happened several times so gradually it got to me, I didn’t really want to go into certain places. I didn’t want to go into Dublin, I don’t have a great time in Dublin anyway, to be honest but I did feel in myself that I was becoming changed and that worried me as well because the nature of my job is I have to be able to look people in the eye, to actually stand up and defend my positions and if I find myself under this kind of barrage of assault, then I have to consider my own position and my position as a public commentator.”

O’Rourke: “We’ll come back in a few minutes to what happened in the Irish Times itself but, apart from what went on there and the abuse that would have been hurled at you occasionally in the street, what else did you have to deal with? And you mentioned Twitter?”

Waters: “Well I outlined in the, I gave some flavour in the Village article about the kinds of emails I was getting and these were absolutely vile, you know, very short, always a certain pattern: short, very often in capitals, you know expletives, splenetic language, the word homophobe always there, terrible personal commentary about my family life perhaps, or about my appearance, all that kind of stuff. And there was like hundreds of these and I began to notice a pattern in this which was really astonishing. That, even though in the public domain in the Dáil, this came up in the Dáil and the Seanad, it came up in RTÉ, it came up in lots of places and it was being talked about for, particularly for about a week or two all the time and yet I noticed in that period, there was a certain pattern. That the one day – on a Wednesday, say – I would get 20 or 30 of these emails, and I would think, this would go on, then on Thursday, there would be none. And I’d think: it’s finished. But then Friday morning, I’d get another one and then on Friday, I’d get 20 or 30 more, so it seemed to me there was a certain orchestration about this whole thing that was actually, that there were people actually working hard to send these messages to me.”

O’Rourke: “Well you were criticised as well by the Minister for Communication, as well as his other responsibilities, Pat Rabbitte. Basically saying, look if you’re in the public square having a debate, you gotta be able to take it as well as give it.

Waters: “I’ve said it before, you know, Pat Rabbitte is entitled to express his opinion, just as anybody else is but I think Pat Rabbitte might be better off looking after his job as Minister for Communication. This was nothing to do with his job as Minister for Communications.”

O’Rourke: “Well, except for the national broadcaster, for which he has responsibility, shelled out over €85,000 in compensation.”

Waters: “That’s a legal matter and is entirely a matter for the people in charge of the national broadcaster and it’s contingent on the legal peculiarities. It is not a political question.”

O’Rourke: “Coming to the Irish Times, now you’ve identified, by my count, five people who were critical of you. Either openly, in print or tweeting openly, or using a nom de plume or maybe by what might be called a passing innuendo in various pieces they wrote. Now we don’t have time to go into every detail but you wrote a letter of resignation after a fellow columnist, Fintan O’Toole, had a go at you, which you say was utterly cowardly and disgraceful. Why would you use it, why would you speak in those terms? Why would it prompt you to resign?”

Waters: “Because it was part of a sustained campaign, it goes back actually to something that had happened earlier on. Because remembered the accusation was made that I was a homophobe, now on RTÉ, and it would say that I had been campaigning on the issue of gay marriage and that I had been more or less, it was insinuated that I’d been on TV and radio every day of the week. Now anybody in RTÉ can simply, by, within 30 seconds can ascertain how often I’ve been on radio and television, talking about gay marriage because the answer is I’ve never been on, I’ve never been on any programme. Many times I’ve turned down invitations to appear on Prime Time, the Frontline, all these programmes, who’ve asked me to go, because they assume they know my position on gay marriage and I can assure you, they don’t. But there was one time where I did outline my full position on gay marriage in an email to a colleague in the Irish Times, Una Mulally, who actually about five days before the Rory O’Neill interview on The Saturday Night Show, asked me, because she said she was writing a book, and I sat down and I wrote, even though this woman had attacked me numerous times, I sat down, I wrote her a 2,000-word email, outlining in full my position on gay marriage. In which I said, inter alia, that I actually don’t think I am against gay marriage per se. That I have a question because I have campaigned for many years on the question of the relationship between fathers and children and the rights and the lack of rights pertaining to those relationships and I’ve been asking why is this, this situation not being fixed when all these other issues are being dealt with and so I said my problems relate to this problem, this issue. I also said that I got no support from Catholic organisation, from Catholic bishops or priests or popes or anybody like that…”

O’Rourke: “In asserting the rights of fathers..”

Waters: “That’s right. So I outlined in full my position. And when this erupted then a week later with Rory O’Neill and The Saturday Night Show, I thought to myself, well at least, one colleague in the Irish Times has a full account of my actual position and will be in a position to enlighten the public and put an end to all this smearing. But nothing happened. And nothing happened. And nothing happened.”

O’Rourke: “But you could have always written a column about it yourself, surely, but that’s another story.”

Waters: “That’s another story, but wait a minute. This is vitally important. A week later Una Mullaly did write a column which put me in with Vladimir Putin and, you know, queer bashers in Nigeria and all the rest of it.”

O’Rourke: “Well I think she made a reference to the fact or it was done on her behalf by a subeditor, because she didn’t write it originally, to the fact that you had sent a solicitor’s letter to RTÉ. The context was the background that you said..”

Waters: “But that adds another sinister element to it: why is a subeditor adding my name to an article.”

O’Rourke: “Bertie Ahern might say for completeness sake I think is the short answer to that.”

Waters: “Well, that’s one way of spinning it but the actual fact. I would say there’s another explanation. That, because, for completeness sake, there was another name they could have added to that article and they didn’t because another colleague had also sent a solicitor’s letter to RTE, Breda O’Brien, and her name was not included.”

O’Rourke: “Ok. But coming on then to Fintan O’Toole, he basically said look columnists are in a privileged position and that they shouldn’t have, you shouldn’t have taken the action that you did.”

Waters: “Well, Fintan O’Toole spoke about an episode which occurred where he was written about in the Sunday Times, where it was said in a profile that he had driven away from a public engagement, protest about austerity or some such, in a BMW. And he said that this wasn’t true, he didn’t have a BMW and that he can’t drive. And he rang the editor in the Sunday Times and so on, to complain. And he says he didn’t sue. But he did ring the editor of the Sunday Times and the Sunday Times immediately agreed to issue an apology the following week. And Fintan doesn’t draw the obvious conclusion, from that, that, if I had, the same thing happened for me, we wouldn’t have been in the situation we were either.”

O’Rourke: “But why then, at midnight I think you say in this [Village] article, why then did you submit your resignation to the paper? On the basis of this comment?”

Waters: “Not because of Fintan. I’ve nothing against Fintan at all. I have a great admiration for Fintan but this is what I resigned for: that I was told in relation to the Una Mullaly article that my options were to either, quote “go the legal route or write a letter to the editor”. In other words a columnist of 24 years is reduced to writing a letter to the editor, to defend himself. Meanwhile the dogs of war are unleashed, week after week after week, to attack me, who has been a columnist for 24 years. Now, I think that’s outrageous.”

O’Rourke: “But hold on a tick now. That’s a very strong statement. The dogs of war are unleashed to attack you week after week after week. Aside from what Fintan O’Toole wrote in his columns, aside from the reference, I think it was a film critic made some reference which you could say was an innuendo directed at you..

Talk over each other

Waters: “There was also an editorial, it was an editorial in which it was suggested that people who are opposed to gay marriage may well indeed be homophobic. Now that’s..”

O’Rourke: “You are not opposed to gay marriage. You’ve just said that so therefore it wasn’t referring to you.”

Waters: “Well, they didn’t admit that. They didn’t publish that. They didn’t publish. Well, of course people reading the article knew who they were talking about. Because this allegation had been made…”

O’Rourke: “Well maybe you were drawing things to yourself or on to yourself that don’t actually necessarily apply.”

Waters: “Well, who do they apply to?”

O’Rourke: “People who are opposed to gay marriage?”

Waters: “Well why were they talking about it at this moment when there was a controversy going about Rory O’Neill’s interview. This is totally disingenuous, Seán.”

[Talk over each other]

O’Rourke: “No, but I’m just putting it to you, it was a matter of intense public argument for whatever reasons it was that, the airwaves were thick with it, there was lots of stuff in the papers and so forth. Surely, the paper and its writers were entitled to make their comments on it?”

Waters: “And was I not entitled to be invited to actually, you see this goes to something much deeper, which goes right back to something that I’ve experienced as somebody who has a dissident voice in the Irish Times, has been a dissident voice in the Irish Times. Any time I mention certain subjects to do with say God, faith, transcendence, any of these questions which are big questions of me, not necessarily from a Catholic point of view but from a general human point of view. My article would be subjected to a tsunami of hatred at the comments, in the comments at the end. Many times I asked that these be moderated, that they be suspended, that something be done about them. And I was told to go take a hike. So the idea…”

O’Rourke: “And other people would have had to endure similar opprobrium, be they columnists in the paper or…”

Waters: “Well, yes, other people, for example Breda O’Brien, yeah. But all the other columnists were receiving high fives and approval from the same people because there is a culture, an ideological dimension to this. And this ideological dimension goes to the heart of the question here. This isn’t about personalities. It’s not about Fintan O’Toole, it’s not about Patsy McGarry, it’s not about Una Mullaly, it’s about a culture, the culture in a newspaper that’s changed. I went to the Irish Times in 1990. But actually the first time I went into the Irish Times was four years before that when Douglas Gageby was the editor. He invited me in one afternoon, on the 28th of January, 1986, it was the day of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. And I was sitting in with Douglas Gageby, at his desk in the newsroom, and he asked me to join the Irish Times. I didn’t want to at that time because I had a job, I was editor of In Dublin but I came in a few years later. Now that newspaper, Douglas Gageby was a great, great man, a great editor who fearlessly defended the right of people to have dissenting views but I want to talk about what’s happening now. Because, you see, the Patsy McGarry thing is really interesting.”

O’Rourke: “You better explain that. Now I have to declare an interest, I’ve know Patsy McGarry for 40 years, he wrote a very nice piece about a member of my family a few months ago and, you know, he’s somebody I would have known fairly well. He chose, as is his perfect right, not to engage in debate with you, as indeed the paper. But he had this Twitter account, with very few followers, it seems, certainly at the start, in which he used a nom de plume. Now you describe that as a very kind of a sinister development, that he was taking potshots at you, not in an open way?”

Waters: “Well of course he did but the point is not about Patsy McGarry. Patsy McGarry was a friend of me too, of mine.”

John Waters: “But I want to talk about what’s happening now. You see, the Patsy McGarry thing is really interesting..”

Sean O’Rourke: “Yes you’d better explain that. Now I have to declare an interest. I’ve known Patsy McGarry for forty years, he wrote a very nice piece about a member of my family a few months ago and you know he’s somebody I’d have known fairly well he chose as has the perfect right to do not to engage in debate with you as indeed did the paper but he had this twitter account with very few followers, it seems, certainly at the start, in which he used a nom de plume, now you described that as a very, kind of a, sinister development that he was taking pot shots at you, not in an open way…”

Waters: “But of course it is. But the point is not about Patsy McGarry. Patsy McGarry was a friend of me too, mine too, as you know…”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, but have you not built this up in a whole way, John, now he actually put his own name and home phone number onto this twitter account.”

Waters: “Yeah but this is one of the things that is being fudged and I want to address this because its very important, people are now saying well, he was completely open, but he wasn’t, if he was completely open why did he as soon as I…”

O’Rourke: “Well he left a trail, he left his paw marks over it…”

Waters: “Yeah but he didn’t know, when he set up the account, over a year ago, he didn’t know what he was doing really and he put down a certain trail but then he went on later on to attack me and attack others seemingly oblivious to the fact he had actually left this trail and in fact you had to dig deep to find this trail…”

O’Rourke: “Well actually you didn’t John, I’m looking at one here from p20 of the Village magazine and the word used is thomas 59.”

Waters: “Yeah but where does it come from, where do you think that comes from? I found that.”

O’Rourke: “But hold on, here is what you found. You found Thomas59 which was his twitter account and then at Thomas his home phone humber.”

Waters: “But his name is not Thomas. But why did he then, when I finally told the editor about this on the 21st February and finally seemed to act on this why was his first tweet ‘One has been rumbled by H20 but does one care? No.’?” But it’s not about Patsy McGarry. it’s about the fact when I drew this to the attention of the editor nothing happened for a week or more and then when something happened it’s almost like a quiet word was had, listen, back off for a while there Patsy, you know, he’s on to you and then it went on…”

O’Rourke: “You for whatever reasons decided, well you’ve explained them, to resign from the paper…”

Waters: “To some extent I’ve explained them.”

O’Rourke: “That is precisely what to some extent may have played into the hands of your biggest critics within the paper. Surely the thing to do was not so much threaten to leave but threaten to stay. You had one of the best platforms in Irish journalism.”

Waters: “Yes.And that’s why I wanted to alert the Irish people to what had happened. I wanted to say this is important. This is important enough for me to give up a position like that. This is what is at stake here. Your freedom is at stake. The Irish Times is not just a private, institution. Hang on Sean now, this is very important. The Irish Times is a bulwark of Irish democracy, it belongs to this country, it belongs to our democracy and democratic discourse, so what happens at the Irish Times isn’t just a domestic matter, it’s a matter for the nation and the people, and what I want to do is draw the people’s attention to what is actually happening not just at the Irish Times but generally in our media where it seems to me that a mob, on Twitter, is dictating what actually is important in Irish media.”

O’Rourke: “But here’s the thing, you had the perfect platform, you had a column in the Irish Times to explain all that to people, why didn’t you just write it?”

Waters: “Because I found it increasingly intolerable, the lack of support I had from senior editors, the condescension I was meeting every day from people I was dealing with in the Irish Times, from senior editors.”

O’Rourke: “But you didn’t even have to go in there you could email the column in as people do and you could simply express your views and put it up to them.”

Waters: “Why should I have to endure this kind of abuse from people simply for expressing my opinion which is my own honest opinion?”

O’Rourke: “Because you’ve a huge number of followers out there perhaps who agree with you and are now really disappointed that you’ve left the paper?”

Waters: “I’m saying to them you know, wake up, there’s something happening you need to be aware of, that your newspapers your media are being taken over, the chanting mob on twitter has been able to dictate for example last week….”

O’Rourke: “But they can’t be controlled the editor of the Irish Times can’t control those people the only person who can be controlled….”

Waters: “You can control what happens in your newspaper.”

O’Rourke: “Look It was fairly robust, there’s no doubt about it, you were being got at, you were being slagged you were being mocked by people.”

Waters: “This has happened me many times.”

O’Rourke: “Tim Pat Coogan had a great phrase to describe people who were annoying him. Dust under the chariot wheels…”

Waters: “And that was my attitude for many years but when you have a friend of many years who has turned against you by a culture internal to the Irish Times, then it’s time to ask what in hell what’s is going on here.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, but you and Patsy McGarry had previous. You criticised some of his work in your columns in the Daily Mail, I think you famously had a bit of an argy bargy with him….”

Waters: “No. You’re quite wrong, Sean You’re quite wrong I did not criticise Patsy McGarry in any personal way at all. I criticised journalism I had a theme in my columns..”

O’Rourke: “Well a bit like other stuff maybe he felt that there was stuff that you wrote that was identifiable or traceable to him?”

Waters: “Well I remember a piece I wrote, it was about about the Eucharistic Congress and it was about the way in which the event was being covered by the media which for the first few days focused on the empty chairs and then disappeared while the Congress grew and grew and became a very rich and vibrant event and this wasn’t reported at all and I did write a column on it and he called this disloyalty to my colleagues… You see it’s the extraordinary thing about journalism, you can criticise any one outside, you can criticise politicians or bankers or whatever but if there’s any criticism about journalism per se this is disloyalty. now that’s precisely the charge that people like Patsy McGarry levelled against the Catholic Church…”

O’Rourke: “So is this an irrevocable parting of the ways between yourself and the Irish Times?”

Waters: “Yes.”

O’Rourke: “Do you not think there are people who feel let down, I won’t say feel let down because they’ve no right to feel let down because you’ve taken the decision but they’re disappointed that your voice is no longer going to be there in the paper.”

Waters: “Well then, they have a remedy and there are various remedies and one would be to write to the editor of the Irish Times and ask him what the hell is going on in the newspaper… there was an episode last week.. the Irish Times was forced to issue an apology in its leader column arising from a cartoon that occurred in the Irish Times by Martyn Turner. I want to say two things about this. First of all the comment in the cartoon was on the pretty anodyne side compared to a lot of the stuff that’s been sneaking into the paper in recent years and completely anodyne in comparison to some of the comments that are on on the online posts that I was talking about. The second thing is that Martyn Turner had the courage to put his name to his cartoon and yet the Irish Times sees fit to issue a half page virtually apology by way of a leader and yet the editor cannot even acknowledge an email from me on a subject which I regard as far more serious for the paper, an anonymous invertebrate tweeting from the bowels of Monkstown against his colleagues…”

O’Rourke: “Well we can argue the toss about that and I think we’ve had a fair exchange about it, it was very traceable the twitter account…”

Waters: “It wasn’t traceable, I found it by accident.”

O’Rourke: “Well what could be more traceable than putting his home phone number on it?”

Waters: “It was by accident, I’ll tell you about this, Sean, it’s very important, he put it there and then he thought it couldn’t be found, that’s the truth…”

O’Rourke: “But sure how could you not trace a home phone number?”

Waters: “But a home phone number, who would recognise a home phone number?”

“But sure there it was 280 whatever….”

Waters: “But why didn’t he put his name on it?”

O’Rourke: “Well I think it was done as a matter of convenience…”

Waters: “And why did he tweet one has been rumbled by H20?”

O’Rourke: “Because he had.”

Waters: “So what you are saying is contradictory. Sean, you cannot have it both ways.You cannot defend Patsy McGarry on the basis he was being open and honest…”

O’Rourke: “I’m saying he left a very … I’m saying he left a trail that was very easy to track.”

Waters: “Yes he left a trail. No, it wasn’t easy to track him, let me tell you that. A complete accident…”

O’Rourke: “A phone number?”

Waters: “Who would recognise a phone number?”

O’Rourke: “All you have to do is check it out. Dial it and see what happens”

Waters: “Well dial it yeah, but who uses phone numbers nowadays? That’s an old phone number.”

O’Rourke: “Well I think it is still a phone number to his apartment.”

Waters: “But his name is not Thomas.”

O’Rourke: “Well he just put it there as a convenient way of using twitter.”

Waters: “If you want to make strong comments about people the convenient and the decent way to do it is to put your name on it. I put my name on my articles.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, but there were only five followers.”

Waters: “But that’s not the point, the point is that this is being encouraged in the Irish Times which purports to be engaged in divergent discussions about things in an open and transparent manner.”

“I think a lot of people may be asking themselves – is there any way back?”

Waters: “Back where?

O’Rourke: “To the Irish Times for you. Because they did ask you to put the original resignation letter on hold.”

Waters: “Look I am a journalist I am a writer. I have a position. I am prepared to put my name to any articles that are commissioned from me. I am not prepared to be abused in this manner. The Irish Times owes it to itself to reassure the public that it is capable of maintaining the high standards set for it by Douglas Gageby which have slipped dramatically and drastically in the recent past.”

(Photocall Ireland)

141 thoughts on “Hatred, Malice, Bad Faith And Me

    1. well

      Agreed, this bigotry against bigotry is getting out of hand! The liberal twitterati have gone to far in calling bullsh*t on this mans views.

      Next thing you know they’ll be banning heterosexuals for marrying.

      1. Mister Mister

        I was being sarcastic. Just to be clear, I have no problem with people doing the exact opposite. The man can’t have his own unique brand of free speech.

  1. bisted

    …damn Patsy McGarry….I just know that H2O will forever conjure a horrible image in my head.

  2. Dubh Linn

    I see the media conspiracy to silence him is going bang to plan then. Jeez the sod is never off the bleeding air nor out of the papers. You would think he liked the publicity or something.

  3. Am I Still on This Island

    For someone who wants to be left alone he is spending a lot of time seeking publicity and promotion. He is like a Journal.ie reader looking desperately for Green thumbs.

    I do like his suggestion about a letters to the Irish times so he can be reinstated! I for one expect a flood of letters to the Times but not containing what Mr Waters expects.

  4. Leo Dowling

    This is the root of his trouble: “if you can be portrayed and presented as being motivated by malice or hatred in what you say, then you’re entirely disabled as a commentator.”

    This is not true at all. You absolutely are not “disabled” as a commentor when someone insults you, even if they’re wrong. You can respond. You can refute the charges. That’s debate.

    If you remove the hyperbole and simple inaccuracy from his stance here, it boils down to what so many people have accused him of. He wants immunity from criticism, and is prepared to sue (sorry, “send a letter”) to get it. It’s a really weird position for a controversialist to take.

  5. Dubh Linn

    Here is what I took from that interview: “Wah wah, I want to say what I want when I want without any disagreeing with me”

    1. Medium Sized C

      I think, in fairness, he is crying about people walking up to him and bellowing “Homophobe” rather than just disagreeing with him.

      I for one have been sorely tempted to scream at him when passing in the street on numerous occasions before I even knew who Miss Pant was.

      I didn’t though.
      Because that would be being a total feckin arsehole.

      1. ZeligIsJaded

        Yet it is that behaviour that he is criticising – nothing more.

        He is criticising cowards.

  6. Pretendgineer

    “Any time I mention certain subjects to do with say God, faith, transcendence, any of these questions which are big questions of me, not necessarily from a Catholic point of view but from a general human point of view. My article would be subjected to a tsunami of hatred at the comments, in the comments at the end. Many times I asked that these be moderated, that they be suspended, that something be done about them. And I was told to go take a hike.”

    So, JW wants to have special treatment on the basis that people strongly disagree with what he is saying. Why on earth would he get preferential treatment? If he is so confident in his position as a “commentator” he has to accept that not everybody agrees with what he spouts from atop his soapbox.

    1. Nigel

      Of all the things I might take issue with over Waters, given the crazy evil shite people of all persuasions and none spout on the internet, the idea that a comments section should be reasonably moderated would not be one of them.

      1. John

        Yes but he is being disingenuous by suggesting that only himself and Breda O Brien are the subject of abuse in the comments section. Anyone who has read them will testify, there have been some extreme homophobic remarks in the comments section of some of these articles. Now I’m not opposed to moderating them but it works both ways. Of John Waters obviously doesn’t want to admit, he wants to play the victim.

        1. ZeligIsJaded

          I think if he’s getting abuse shouted at him on the street, its safe to assume that he may well be victimised.

          Unpopular opinions should be attacked – not those that hold them.

  7. Sgt. Bilko

    Yet another wandering, incoherent screed of largely irrelevant blather. Comments of his, that prima facia appear motivated by homophobia, have been referenced, quoted and linked to on here countless times. He has some cheek.

  8. droid

    The good news is that because of all the legitimate criticism/vile abuse (tick which applies) he now does not want to ‘go into Dublin’ and is considering his position as a ‘public commentator’.

    The system works.

  9. Nigel

    Heh, if the water protestors and the Waters protestors joined forces, they would be unstoppable.

    1. euro88

      maybe we can all get waters meters installed outside our houses, and then if you dont pay the water charge the council will pump the opinions of waters in to your house.

      srsly, can we all stop publishing anything to do with this man. i’m sure there’s better things to go on a soapbox.

      down with this sort of thing.

      1. Nigel

        But we have to pay our Waters charges or we can’t upgrade the Waters treatment plants or repair the Waters pipes. Our Waters infrastructure is creaking at the seams, frankly.

  10. Whattheyreallymean

    Oh look, lots of opinion contrary the Broadsheet groupthink is being deleted.

    The irony of it.

    1. Leo Dowling

      They deleted a string of the most mildly anti-Waters guff last week. I don’t think they’re being biased in this case, so much as timorous and stupid.

    2. Anne in London (form. Anne)

      The straw man playbook:
      “Someone said something I don’t agree with = groupthink / sheep”
      “Lots of peoples said something I don’t agree with = groupthink / sheep ”
      “Waaaahhh no-one agrees with maaaahhhhh = groupthink / sheep”

      Go on, give us the one about everyone who disagrees with you being a bully / facist / anti-church / anti- Waters / pro-liberal / Auntie Mary / pro swimmer malarky and you will have the straw man full set of cards.

      Much easier to Waahhhhh on a point than address it. I notice this b0ll0x a lot of that on these threads lately.

      (Now BS, I’ve finally said something to warrant being put under moderation for!!)

  11. ferg

    It’s brilliant the way we can all gather round and bully someone who we don’t agree with, and it’s ok cos we’re cool and he’s an old bigot.
    Most of the comments on here would qualify as hatred of someone for their beliefs anywhere else.
    The fucking laugh is that our lives have become reduced to where we stand on single issues and there is no room for complexity or nuance.

    1. Anne in London (form. Anne)

      It’s not bullying to disagree with a point being made … ish called a deerbate, innit?

    2. Cohen Hand

      Yep. On the money. I’ve no time for John Waters’ opinions generally, but there is a grain of truth to his incoherent ramblings: namely, that a mob mentality dictates the moral agenda. The goal-posts may have shifted (and certainly for the better), but the moral majority still make outcasts of those who hold contrary views.

      1. dandedandan

        If those views include keeping certain classes of people as second class citizens, imo that’s fair enough. No-one’s trying to put him in a laundry are they? One of the consequences of having horrible views towards people for no reason other than bigotry is that those people, and those who support them will reject you.
        All that’s happened here is that someone with horrible views put them in the public sphere, and the public has reacted.
        A reasonable reaction would be to review those opinions, an unreasonable action would be to protect that person and their views from criticism.

  12. Micko

    Sorry. But are we all reading the same interview.
    Instead of people shouting “Homophobia!!!”. Sit down for a moment & re-read
    Patty & RTE libeled John Waters. There’s no debate. RTE paid damages.
    He left The Irish Times because he felt other writers didn’t stand with integrity, Una Mullaly in particular. That a mob mentality took over debate of shouting Homophobia. This extended to him as he walked around the city.

    What’s the problem ?

    His stance on un married fathers right is a good point.

    1. droid

      They did not libel him, there was no libel proven. Several legal opinions have dissented from RTE’s decision to pay damages, and published quotes from John Waters seem to support their views.

      Im sure he was unpopular in the irish Times, just as he is unpopular everywhere else. That’s what happens when you’re a narcissistic, war-mongering, trolling bigot addicted to self promotion and immune to self reflection.

      1. ferg

        “That’s what happens when you’re a narcissistic, war-mongering, trolling bigot addicted to self promotion and immune to self reflection.”
        Now that’s libel!!!!

        1. droid

          Every single thing there could be supported by quoted evidence. He cheerleaded the war in Iraq, to the point where he was lionising Tony Blair years after the body count had hit the 500,000 mark and WMD had been revealed as the myth we all knew it was. His comments on gay marriage as quoted here and other places constitute bigotry in the form of homophobia in the minds of any reasonable person, and afaik, its not actionable to describe someone as narcissistic or a self promoter, and if it was, then Im sure there’s a few dozen psychologists who would testify on my behalf.

      2. Clampers Outside!

        Worth repeating that …”That’s what happens when you’re a narcissistic, war-mongering, trolling bigot addicted to self promotion and immune to self reflection.”

    2. Dubh Linn

      Micko, no-one has ever tried (that I have seen) to take away from him the issues he was right on the money about.

      However, right now, he is a bumbling, short-sighted, out of it dinosaur asked to contribute to programmes and magazines because of the shock value he brings. People will listen because his name is in the media for giving quotable copy right now. People are laughing at him, not taking him seriously. He’s like a museum piece we can point and laugh at and feel relieved that things have changed now (thank goodness) It is not 1955 any more.

      Whereas he may have has his points bang on the button before (Father’s rights, the allocation of funding to treat abused men) he has strayed so far off the reservation now that he is on the set of a space (cadet) film!

      Anyone who thinks that the rights of the child should come secondary to the rights of the parents especially where abuse or neglect is taking place is out of touch with reality.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXXhXNnK1MQ – Here is him telling us all about it on video.

      Anyone who thinks that two people in a loving committed relationship bringing up a child healthily and happily are doing the wrong thing if they are partnered with someone of the same gender is just a nut!

      He is a man out of time and I feel sorry for him but his views are backwards, regressive, and poisonous. They deserved to be held up for the ridicule they receive.

      The sad part of it is that he does not think he is doing anything wrong. He yells about not giving children up for adoption to gay couples just in case there is a parent (or parents) who still want the child without saying the same about hetrosexual couples that may want to adopt. What he does not realise is how astringent the adoption process is and an opposed adoption (to any committed couple) would be a last resort. However, why let logic and the facts get in the way of another stick to beat gay people with?

    3. cluster

      There is a debate. In my view, he used a national broadcaster’s fear of a badly worded defamation law to attempt to silence another commentator.

      I also believe that even his own version of events re leaving the Irish Times paints him in a poor light. I think that O’Toole’s point is a good one even if the example given is not exactly analogous – apart from anything else, the defamation of O’Toole was clear cut and not arguable.

      I’m not sure I understand his annoyance that Una Mulally didn’t rush to his defence. His claim seems to be that he is against gay marriage because the rights of straight fathers have not yet been adequately dealt with. Apart from the fact, that this is a silly reason, it does not fit in neatly with his own previous words on the subject.

  13. ReproBertie

    Thanks for posting this Broadsheet. I didn’t get to hear the interview so it’s nice to be able to read his side of this thing.

  14. ABM

    John Waters was used by the Irish Times: if a reasonable person were to observe that the Irish Times was becoming eerily left wing, they’d point over at John and say “no, look, we have our very own right winger in-residence here (who’s also a fruit cake)”.

    Now that Waters is gone, that tool has been taken away from the Irish Times.

    I don’t agree with much of Water’s ramblings. He should count himself lucky that he can go home to his own house, close the door behind him and live out his days in peace. The so-called educated Twitterati who spew bile from their rented flats have no such luxury — they are slaves to New Ireland (an Ireland where the people are poorer and have less prospects than the Ireland their parents lived in). But hey, at least they have their hire purchase smart phones to feed them an endless supply of lols and make their wage slave lives more bearable.

      1. ABM

        What? Patsy McGarry just wrote another article on what Archbishop Martin should be doing in his diocese?

    1. droid

      The educated Twitterati dont want to change the world. Theyre not looking for a new Ireland, theyre just looking for another girl.

      1. scottser

        lol free
        as free as the wind blows
        as free as the grass grows
        lol free
        to follow your heart


    2. Sgt. Bilko

      “…who spew bile from their rented flats have no such luxury — they are slaves to New Ireland (an Ireland where the people are poorer and have less prospects than the Ireland their parents lived in). But hey, at least they have their hire purchase smart phones to feed them an endless supply of lols and make their wage slave lives more bearable.”


    3. Clucky

      Life a fly to the proverbial, eh ABM? Do you seriously expect us to believe that you are from the upper-echelons of society, in gainful employment and self-supporting? You have been trolling on here for years – the actions of a happy man, satisfied and fulfilled with his life or the work of a lonely sexually immature social misfit with too much time on his hands?

      So you don’t like the “Twitterati spewing bile”. You have a bad memory – care to revisit some of your recent telling replies to me here a mere two nights ago: ttp://www.broadsheet.ie/2014/04/22/a-former-irish-times-journalist-writes/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=web&utm_content=most_commented

      “You really are a lovely chap. I’m sure your dad holds the image of you snuggled up in bed alongside your effeminate boyfriend dear to his heart. It find it utterly disgusting imaging what the two of you get up to.”

      “Hi Clucky, how’s your boyfriend? Give him a kiss for me. I know you like to think I’m jealous, but if you asked me to choose between my life of chastity or unsatisfied futility, I’d always take the former…While you’re off in the spending next month’s rent in the boiler house, some of us are busy planning our retirement and making sure that Ireland’s offspring have the best chance possible in an ever materialistic world where Christian morals are increasingly discarded for being “oppressive” or “unequal”.

      “When your adopted designer kids have abandoned you in a State-funded retirement home, you’ll be crying out for a trip to Leopardstown” (to bet on horses – ABM, most favourite displacement activity)

      Of course all of that is *nothing* like the bile on twitter, eh ABM?

      What I find hilarious is that I haven’t ever disclosed any personal details, but ABM let his imagination run wild. I wonder why that is? Snortle…

      1. ABM

        Hi Clucky! So you like giving it but you don’t like taking it? lols.

        You know I disapprove of homosexual behaviour. I believe it’s unnatural, perverse, disgusting and should be ridiculed.

        You’re not doing your cause any favours when you deliberately attribute things I didn’t write and then go on to selectively ignore your own bile!

        Watching you getting worked up reminds me of my cat playing with his ball of wool. What colour would you like this time?

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          “unnatural, perverse, disgusting and should be ridiculed”

          Ah pet, sums up how we feel about you too!

          1. ABM

            A State funded quango even? They could ensure that even though we don’t like each other, we could at least work in the same open plan office together?

          2. Jordofthejungle

            Love ABM, as mad as a bag of spanners and totally screwed-up. Sort of Mena Bean Ui Chribin with an even greater dollop of sexual frustration and frothing-at-the-mouth religious zealotry. A loon for our times.

        2. Clucky

          Who is really wound up I wonder ABM? Don’t like being reminded of the bile you spew?If you were not so wound-up you wouldn’t have betrayed yourself so obviously. Don’t like being reminded that you’re more than likely a lonely, sexually immature social misfit?

          Now, much as I’d love to indulge you in your lies and hypocrisy, I think I have made my point.

          I leave you to your “life of chastity” – working out well for you I’d say.


          1. ABM

            I have to laugh at the mis-quotes you typed out above (I can only assume he typed them out — the neanderthal is too stupid to figure out how to use the copy and paste function on his “smart” phone). Imagine him, hunched over his i-phone on the office jacks (the throne is the most popular location for Twitter users) desperate to get the letters in fast so as not to be seen to be “spending a lot of time in the cubicle”.

            “Anyone seen Clucks?”

            “He’s in the jacks again”


            Anyway, I see you’ve corrected yourself — what was “my life of chastity” (incorrectly attributed to me) is now “your ‘life of chastity'”. Make up your mind. Although I suspect you’ve already made your conclusion (the conclusion being invalid because it’s based on an a priori phobia of those who profess the Catholic faith).

          2. Jordofthejungle

            I don’t think you’re in any position to mock people working ABM. Clucky’s taxes probably pay for your dole. A professional troll isn’t a career. LOLs

          3. Animus

            Do boys have to be effeminate for you, ABM? I suppose, if they’re strong enough to fight back, that’s a huge problem.

            This is all so psychologically interesting, ABM. Thanks for sharing with us.

            Sure a problem shared is a problem halved!

        3. Jane202

          Come on now ABM, I had a look and you did say those things. Clucky is wrong though, life must be good for you afterall you’ve got your cat, your chastity, your nags to bet on and an internet connection. What more could a unnatural, perverse and disgusting troll want? Lols – just ridiculing you, like you deserve.

          1. ABM

            Of course, the Clucky metropolitan pinko fan brigade rent-a-mob are out in force. Clucky can give as good he as gets. He didn’t copy and paste his bile to me but you ignore that.

            I take it for what it is, anti-Catholic, personalised, bigoted ranting. I like to have a bet and a pint, suddenly I am a drunk and a gambler. I live a chaste life and condemn homosexuality but suddenly, I am a sexual deviant. I believe in Catholic and Christian morals and will fight for them to be the cornerstone of our Nation’s belief system as they have always been and suddenly I’m a bigot.

            Then you non-representative and crusading fascist liberals wonder why I empathise with John Waters.

          2. Jane202

            Erm, ok ABM. Dial down the unhinged craziness, just a teeny tiny bit. Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe Clucky has been taking the piss and winding you up? It does seem that way to me.

    4. Lilly

      What the f**k do you know about Waters’ finances, you clown. He might have remortgaged the house to buy apartments in Bulgaria for all you know.

  15. Dick

    Can everyone stop paying attention to this shite-stirring, antiquated and irrelevant windbag?

    1. Casey

      Thank you for drawing my attention to the fact you want everyone to ignore this person by commenting on this thread about him therefore putting your comment to the top of the list of comments or people to click on and driving up the number of comments so it appears in the most popular stories.

      Both guaranteed ways to draw people’s attention to the thread and most likely comment on it.

      By the way, many people on t’interwebs HATE being told what to do.

    2. Jay

      Nah, we should give John Waters and his ilk plenty of airtime. Any time they open their mouths I’m pretty sure there’s a surge of donations to LGBT groups, pro choice groups etc.

  16. Kdoc

    Not a fan of John Waters, but he has a very strong point regarding Fintan O’Toole receiving an apology from the editor of the Sunday Times, whereas he received none from RTE.

    1. Lilly

      He also has a good point about front house security in the Irish Times. It is ludicrous, designed to make staff feel they’re elected, and mere freelancers excluded from the imagined elite. What else can it be about? No one wants to kidnap Fintan O’Toole.

    2. Huppenstop

      Well, from what I can hazily recall, RTÉ was willing to offer some apology but Waters and the others wanted to draft the wording, which RTÉ refused to do, and so it escalated. You can’t reasonably expect to be able to dictate the wording of someone else’s apology.

      1. Shanti

        Plus – what were they apologising for?
        Rory O Neill said the only place people could be “mean and nasty about gays” was Internet comments sections (something Mr waters has suddenly become aware of) and people who write columns in news papers.. After being asked to clarify Mr O Neill names a few names, at this point Brendan O Connor steps in a states that John Waters is NOT a homophobe, and O Neill says the problem is the word homophobe, that people think it’s just horrible nasty people who beat up gays – there’s a subtle type, and that if you want to deny someone what they feel they need to be happy simply because they are gay that you are indeed homophobic.

        Were RTE apologising for defending his good name? Apologising because he was called “mean and nasty about gays”? Because everything Rory O Neill said about homophobia was prefaced with his definition of what he considered it to be. And that definition would include some of the things Mr Waters, Ms O Brien and the Iona institute have said.

    3. cluster

      He didn’t deserve an apology.

      Whether you agree with O’Neill or not, he expressed an opinion and gave the logic behind his decision to label those who oppose gay marriage homophobic.

      The O’Toole case concerned a fabricated ‘fact’. There is no debate to be had about whether a man drove in a BMW on a specific occasion of he did not. There certainly is a debate to be had about whether opposing gay marriage is homophobic in and of itself. There may even be a debate about whether Waters opposes gay marriage or not.

  17. rotide

    So people are coming up to him on the street and SHOUTING homophobe in his face and it’s still not bullying.

    Well done everyone.

    1. Dubh Linn

      I can’t speak for everyone else here but I certainly have never and would never do something like that namely acting in a threatening manner around someone because they held a belief contrary to mine.

      There is a universe of difference between discussing what a person said:
      1) via the internet (as on this forum) agreeing with their stance
      2) via the internet (as on this forum) disagreeing with their stance
      3) screaming abuse and insults when in physical proximity to that same person
      4) acting in a threatening way when in physical proximity to that same person

      However, just because some short-sighted, reactionary and immature people choose to do 3 and 4, it does not make rational public discussion on the internet a forum for anything other than discussion. Shame on those that do it but it on no way reflects on everyone who disagrees with his jurassic opinions.

      1. rotide

        Please, There are few if anyone who actually agrees with his stance on this issue, particularly not on this website.

        However there are many who are not just “disagreeing with his stance” but engaging in namecalling and outright abuse here. Have a peruse through the comments and see what I mean.

        I find it ironic that JW has come in for SO much abuse on this and the dirt slides off the Iona institute members like teflon.
        But sorry, carry on with the circlejerk.

        1. Dubh Linn

          So now you are changing the argument to say that commenters on this site should be slagging off Iona rather that their little playmate JW?

          Yeah, sure we will all do it cos you said it.

        2. Shanti

          You do have some semblance of a point there Rotide, there were other recipients of that payout..

          None of them were board members of the BAI when they sent in their complaints though, and as such – none of the rest of them had over stepped their mark in the role of broadcasting regulator.

    2. BallsToTheWa

      There has to be a point reached where geriatric gee bags realise the inter web enables free speech for everyone, even those with whom we disagree, AS IF the conversation took place in the street. If Waters was not a homophobe, why did he not go to court and have that determined as a fact in law?

      1. rotide

        You think john waters should go to court to prove he isn’t a homophobe?

        You have a great grasp of the legal system there Balls.

        Here, how about this. I think by you’re use of the word ‘gee bag’ that you are a misognystic wife beater.
        How about you go to court and and prove you arent a misognystic wife beater?

        1. BallsToTheWa

          You would have to learn how to spell first before your claim would gain currency. I support your right to call me what you want you idiotic troll. Yes Mr Waters claims he was defamed and as the alleged defamer denies same the only valid test would have been under due process as clearly the alleged defamer’s defence would be ‘fair comment’.

  18. DaithiG

    “Pat Rabbitte is entitled to express his opinion, just as anybody else is”

    Unless that opinion is critical of JW and his buddies.

  19. DaithiG

    “an anonymous invertebrate tweeting from the bowels of Monkstown against his colleagues…”

    Was that directed at P McGarry??

    1. Jay

      He should take legal action! I’m pretty sure McGarry can prove that he has a vertebrae. Though if Waters actions are anything to go by he could indeed be an invertebrate and get a payout.

  20. Buzz

    Boo hoo, I think Johnny boy wants his job back but doesn’t want to beg. Instead he wants readers countrywide to rise up and demand his reinstatement. As columnists go, he’s probably better than Una Mullally but that’s neither here not there.

    1. cluster

      He is not better than Mulally.

      She has had a few missteps, has been guilty of over-egging the pudding on occasion.

      I genuinely cannot remember a time in the last five years (maybe longer) in which I read a single Waters column that made me re-think a position. I can barely wade through the logical fallacies and unsupported generalisations to make ot to the end of his columns.

      There is no other columnist I can think, even ones I rarely agree with, of for whom I can say the same thing – not O’Toole, not Myers, not Ian O’Doherty, not Vinnie B, not David Quinn.

  21. Buzz

    Scanning his Village Magazine piece:

    “I certainly don’t make these arguments from any of the conventional positions, least of all a Catholic one – although it’s no secret that I am a Catholic…”

    À la carte John, à la carte.

  22. Clampers Outside!

    Penguins in Cork!

    (…Cork’s gay penguins. Penguins being gay, being natural, just like many other species, including humans. Intended to be shouted out in the same manner as ‘pigs innn spaaaace’. )

  23. Buzz

    Always liked the look of Patsy McGarry. Now that I know his number, think I’ll give him a call ;)

  24. Rachel

    horrified by this whole saga. The behaviour of the Irish Times and Patsy McGarry, is about as low as it gets.

      1. Rachel

        explain what exactly? Why do I need to justify my opinion to you?
        That’s how I feel, that’s my opinion, and I am entitled to it.
        I am angry and disgusted with the Irish Times. Many other people out there are too. The reasons for this should be obvious to you, without having to spell it out.

        1. cluster

          If the behaviour of the Irish Times was so patently ‘as low as it gets’ then why bother commenting at all?

          The IT has come in for plenty of criticism on this website, yet not on this issue. Could it be that not everyone thinks it obvious that their conduct was ‘as low as it gets’?

          Was it lower than moving paedophile priests into new parishes and schools without warning parents? Lower than being nasty to people on the basis of their sexuality? Lower than taking 40k from the cash-strapped national broadcaster (funded by you and me and everyone else around here) to avoid a court case?

          1. Rachel

            I can comment here and express my opinion, if I wish. Freedom of speech applies to everyone, not just you. You can’t censor everything that other people think or feel. You can throw a tantrum, and as much online abuse as you want, but John Waters is still a highly respected journalist.
            Irish people are not stupid. They can read between the lines as to what went on.
            I like and respect Waters, and I think he was very badly treated by the Irish Times.
            I’m sorry if that offends you, but that’s the way it is.

          2. Clampers Outside!

            “John Waters is still a highly respected journalist.”

            Hahahahahaha, now that IS funny? Is this turning into comedy night? Many people good and evil will imbue respect from a few willing to be blind to the realities. I can see that.

            But “highly” respected is a massive overstatement, just like JWs stubborn ego. If you can “highly” respect JW as a journalist you must be a defender of the illegal war in Iraq, something he still defends.

  25. Leo Dowling

    Jesus, Rachel. Can you not see a problem with this?

    1. You make a point.
    2. Someone disagrees with it, and points out specific difficulties.
    3. You bang on about free speech without addressing one of the points.

    It’s exactly what Waters does, and it’s puerile and stupid.

Comments are closed.