C: Katie Rainbow via Pexels

Dublin Pride to RTÉ: We decide what you broadcast, not you.

There’s no other real way to read this statement, is there? Dublin Pride clearly feels that, if RTÉ wishes to remain “partnered” with them, then Dublin Pride must have an effective veto over what RTÉ broadcasts. This past week, Joe Duffy allowed some very ungood wrongthink on the radio, and therefore, RTÉ is unceremoniously being given the boot from the Pride Festival:

All of which makes you wonder: Why would RTÉ have entered into a partnership, to begin with, with an organisation that tries to control what RTÉ can say? It was madness from day one, and undermines RTÉ’s role as a supposedly neutral broadcaster. It’s sort of funny that Pride noticed that before the suits in Montrose got around to it.

Note the language in the statement, by the way, which is openly, almost proudly, Orwellian: “Unacceptable, triggering, and extremely harmful “discussions””. RTÉ didn’t actually do anything to Trans people, or LGBT people: It simply hosted an “unacceptable discussion” about a point of public policy, namely whether or not it is too easy for people to legally change their gender. That isn’t a matter, incidentally, of human rights. It’s a matter of state policy. It’s not very far removed, for example, from a discussion on surrogacy: Should Gay people be allowed to pay women to have their babies? That’s not a question about whether gay people are good or bad, but one about what the law should say about the balance of rights between gay people, and women who might feel financially pressured into arrangements that are ultimately bad for them.

Those policy discussions are verboten, per the Pride organisers.

Really, although this is the nuclear option, it smacks more than anything else of fear. LGBT activists are not stupid – they know as well as anybody else that those Joe Duffy shows did not go well for them, and that there is a growing backlash in the country to the idea that gender is something you can change almost as easily as your clothes.

This, though, is an important moment: What we have here, openly, and unapologetically, is a major LGBT lobby group attempting to bully the national broadcaster into silence. The message couldn’t be any clearer: If you do not use your platform as a broadcaster to reinforce our message, and shut down any dissenting views, then you are not welcome in our parade. And not just any parade – the Dublin Pride parade. They may as well just officially label RTÉ homophobic, because that is what this statement means, and how it is intended to be read.

RTÉ have two options, here: On the one hand, they can have the strength to tell Dublin Pride to get stuffed. Our remit, they can say, is to host discussions on all subjects and provide a platform to all sorts of views on the issues of the day.

On the other hand, they can do something weaselly like stand over the Joe Duffy programmes, but promise to “enter into a dialogue” with Dublin Pride to “improve their coverage”. That, my friends, will be code for “we promise never to talk about this so openly again”.

My money, alas, is on option “B”.

In the long term, though, I think this is a big moment. This decision by Dublin Pride really is the equivalent of pushing the big red button: They’ve deployed all of their cultural power, and cachet, in an effort to silence the national broadcaster and signal to other organisations and entities that no discussion on this subject is permitted. It’s perhaps the first formal declaration of what has been informally understood in the media for years: You don’t dare cross the LGBT lobby, and if you do, they’ll punish you for it. That’s out in the open now, which is, in its own way, very helpful.

Ultimately, no matter how hard Pride pushes to silence discourse on this topic, it can’t succeed: People know what a woman is. They know what a man is. They know full well that regardless of what a silly law might say, a man cannot actually enter a registry office and emerge from it a woman, or vice versa. Those who publicly insist to the contrary are engaged in the modern version of the Emperor’s New Clothes – and there will always be a small child in the crowd willing to say “but Daddy, that’s not a woman”.

Because, of course, it’s not. No law can turn a man into a woman, and whether Pride succeeds in scaring RTÉ away from having that view aired or not, it will remain true. Not just for today, but for eternity.


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