Almost three hundred years ago, in Dublin, Jonathan Swift published ‘A Modest Proposal‘ one of the most famous satirical works in the world – the proposal in question being that the poor should kill and eat their young.
Almost three hundred years later, The Irish Times is doing its best to kill satire itself.
Here is a cartoon by Martyn Turner, published in the The Irish Times during the week:
It refers to the Bill that would make the reporting of child abuse and rape mandatory. Even if one priest confesses to the rape of a child to another priest within the bounds of the religious sacrament.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin expressed his dismay at the cartoon, and The Irish TImes yesterday apologised for causing offence, and withdrew the cartoon from its online article.
The apology is here. It reads in part:
“In making a legitimate argument about the debate over priestly responsibility for reporting child abuse and the concerns for the seal of the confessional, Turner also took an unfortunate and unjustified sideswipe at all priests, suggesting that none of them can be trusted with children.”
Breda O’Brien, of the Iona pressure group, writes about the issue here. She says in part:
“You might even wince a bit at the satire of “singing priests”, given the best-known singing priests are humble men who raise phenomenal amounts of money for charity.”
As pointed out by Michael Nugent, Turner often takes sideswipes at whole sectors of society. Guards. Bankers. Politicians. Lawyers. And you know what? When individual priests and the Association of Catholic Priests are actually saying that the seal of confession and canon law take precedence over the law of the state, even where the issue is child protection – there really is a need to highlight this, with satire, with boycotts, with outrage!
O’Brien… it’s very, very difficult to resist a plain ad hominem attack on this… person.
The most famous Irish singing priest: Tony Walsh. Sentenced to 123 years in jail for child abuse – abuse covered up by the Roman Catholic Church. Good job, Breda.
There was indeed an editorial lapse within The Irish Times this week. It was in allowing Martyn Turner to be censored.
Kevin O’Sullivan now only has two options. Apologise to Martyn Turner and reinstate the cartoon to the IT digital archives. Or sack Martyn Turner, because there’s no point employing a satirist if he’s not allowed to publish his satire.