00:00 Saturday 19 September 2009  Written by Archon

Alive magazine publishers spark off political apoplexy

SHOULD the editor of the 'Alive' newspaper, Fr. Brian McKevitt, his three staffers and the 1,000 volunteers who distribute the publication nationwide be interned? Should they be dumped in the Curragh's Glass House until they see the error of their ways?

Well, why not? After all, the political great and good - particularly Blue Shirts and Cloth Cap Brigaders - want the newspaper banned and, when newspapers are banned, it's generally because they're 'subversive' and if they're 'subversive', as night follows day, the newspaper's owners, writers and supporters are interned. For the public good, dontcha know.

Sir Garret, for instance, has a very good take on subversion. Having been wheeled from the crypt of obscurity, he made his support for political repression quite clear at a civil rights symposium (of all places). Internment, he said recently, should never be ruled out in principle and he deplored the bags the Brits made of it in the North. Their brutality made internment in the South politically impossible for his government to implement.

As well, the charming liberal staunchly supported his government's banning of republicans from RTE because people like Gerry Adams always got the better of RTE interviewers.

So, if Sir Garret was able to silence people whose views he didn't like, what's wrong with shutting up those dreadful people in 'Alive'? Logically, there's no better way of doing that than internment -or burning them at the stake.

SHOULD BE WAFFLE-FREE

For instance, the editor is a Dominican priest who wears a beard. His newspaper is free, has a circulation of 359,000 and relies on donations. The priest believes articles should be brief, all encompassing, understandable to a 12-year-old, and with no waffle or hiding behind jargon.

Imagine that! A newspaper run by a beardy who doesn't want jargon or waffle! What could be more subversive than that?

Then there's the fact that 'Alive' unashamedly pursues a Catholic agenda. It is anti-divorce, anti-abortion, anti-sex outside marriage, anti-fornication, anti-sodomy, anti-global warming gurus, and -its greatest sin of all- anti-Lisbon Treaty. Oh, and it's pro-Pope.

All of which is a Papal rag to the 'libera' bulls and, believe you me, the bulls are circling, ready to gore the newspaper into oblivion. For instance, last week MEP Miriam Harkin accused it of preying on 'vulnerable people.' She complained that the newspaper published an advertisement with the false argument that the Lisbon Treaty would allow special needs children and people with mental illness to be locked up. The advert said the EU could take children off people who suffer from mild forms of alcoholism or depression, or who do not own a family home.

Whether the political advertisement was accurate or not is beside the point. What took our fancy was the crazed response from the political elite.

MEP WANTS TO BAN IT

Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins wanted the newspaper banned from church porches. Another Blueshirt MEP, Gay Mitchell, wanted to know if Cardinal Brady supported such 'misinformation.'

Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuiness said the advert was scandalous, and the Church needed to 'take on' any group that made statements in its name.

Labour's Pat Rabbitte demanded it to be banned outright. No shilly-shallying, nothing of this free speech lark, just ban it. (Unlike the others, Rabbitte exhibited a sort of anti-libertarian consistency, perhaps because he cut his back-teeth in the dodgy Workers Party and Democratic Left, both great admirers of North Korean totalitarianism).

Of course, the Greenies, those other great defenders of free speech, also had to get in their tuppence worth. Deirdre de Burca, a senator who represents no one and who owes her Seanad sinecure to Fianna Fail generosity, labelled the people who produce 'Alive' as the Irish version of the Taliban!

Similar political apoplexy last year gripped West Cork TD Jim O'Keefe who accused 'Alive' of 'deliberately stoking up anti-European sentiment,' while Enda Kenny disapproved of its mix of politics and religion. A Fianna Fail TD, Thomas Burke, complained that the newspaper gave the impression that it was sinful to vote for the Lisbon Treaty!

Senator Paschal Donohue and Joe Costello TD wanted the distribution of the newspaper to cease outside the Dublin Pro-Cathedral because it confused worshippers trying to make up their minds on the Lisbon issue. They all ordered Cardinal Brady to take 'firm action' against it.

SOMETHING DISTURBING

Now, whatever about interning Fr McKevitt - and, given the nasty authoritarian streak within the so-called 'liberal' sector of Irish political life, it might not be beyond the bounds of possibility - there is something disturbing about the ferocity of the attacks on 'Alive'.

This scribe does not share the newspaper's religious outlook, but admires the gutsy, amusing, no-holds-barred way it presents its message. The newspaper is saying something.

You may not agree with it. Indeed, you may find the message offensive and provocative but the fact that the paper has the courage to make its point is a refreshing change from the asinine timidity of much of the Irish media, and the terror of not being perceived as 'liberal.'

The attack on Fr. Brian McKevitt and his newspaper smacked of McCarthyism and had everything to do with the political elite considering 'Alive' to be a serious political adversary, and an opponent to be smashed.

The newspaper's popularity and the size of its circulation were seen as a threat to the pro-Lisbon argument. The demand that the cardinal 'do something' about the newspaper had a specific purpose. It was this: since 'Alive' didn't fit into the political elite's ideological niche, the editor, Fr McKevitt, had to be pressurised into adhering to established conformist politics, and there was no better boy to do that than Cardinal Brady.

Demagogic assaults on the No to Lisbon camp are common. We've already seen Minister Mickey Martin refer to his Lisbon opponents as 'sinister elements' and Pat Cox contemptuously describing the No camp as 'Little Englanders,' but the attack on a newspaper takes aggression to a new and dangerous height - to a place where there's a deliberate attempt to blur the line between dissent and subversion.

WANTING TO SILENCE

Not that Fr Brian McKevitt cannot take care of himself: Responding to the politically motivated accusations of disinformation, inaccuracy, subversion and religious treason, he genially answered that it was interesting to observe liberals who proclaimed to be in favour of free speech wanting to silence criticism.

Spot on, even though a good chunk of the political establishment might prefer to lock the blighters up and throw away the key. 'It's the only thing they understand' sort of argument!

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