(No taoisigh were harmed in the making of this image. You may experience some nausea yourself though, for which I apologise, but this is about principle, freedom of speech, and news staying news.)
UPDATE: We’re going to have an exhibition!
Tonight RTE News issued an apology for reporting news. This will not stand.
You may be familiar by now with the anonymously donated nudes of Brian Cowen in the RHA and National Gallery.
Well RTE has been gradually censoring itself over the course of the day.
First the report which should be viewable on the RTE website was withdrawn. Next the captions on the images were changed. Now the images have been removed altogether. And finally RTE News apologised to Brian Cowen and the office of the Taoiseach for any offence caused.
I know who painted this and I know it has got even more bizarre behind the scenes. The Gardai are involved but funnily enough he hasn’t been charged with anything. Garda resources were squandered on this but what the hell, there were paintings at large.
This needs to be screamed from the rooftops: the very freedom to express dissent and poke fun at those in power is being attacked. Brian Cowen’s handlers have decided that Kim Jong-il has the right attitude and have started leaning on RTE to amend its coverage of our inglorious leader: Nob Nation had to tone it down 2 weeks ago (although the producer claimed there was no government interference with tonight’s form you’ve got to wonder) and now RTE had to apologise because the DG got a bollocking from the Government Press Office.
When the government can so clearly meddle in the broadcast decisions of the national broadcaster this should cause all of us concern. The news was changed today to reflect the offended sensibilities of those in power. This has been par for the course for years no doubt; but when something as frivolous as a report on a funny painting can be withdrawn from the RTE archive, that is cut and dried censorship of the innocuous. We are now not allowed to laugh at Brian Cowen.
Well I say no. That won’t do at all. I’ve written on Culch.ie about the importance of satire in society. Cowen’s handlers are exercising their influence over the increasingly frail RTE but they can’t stop people laughing. So even if you’re someone who’d lay down your life for Brian, you shouldn’t have to suppress your titters in a democracy.
EDIT: Irish Election have t-shirts for sale, proceeds going to the Rape Crisis Network.