Wednesday, June 25, 2014

DJ Wilkinson and the Good Shepherd Church video

(I have no intention of this blog becoming another NI amateur politico soapbox, so sorry for this digression. Normal service will be resumed, sharing history and culture with like-minded folk around the globe)

I've been saddened by, and musing over, the sacrilege which has taken place inside, and on the altar of, the Good Shepherd Catholic Church on the Ormeau Road in Belfast, captured in a music promo video by somebody called DJ Wilkinson which was published on YouTube* ... and the fairly muted local media comment there has been about it.

In our age of the PERPETUALLY OUTRAGED, the media reaction to this has been little more than a whimper. Compare this with the fallout from the incident two summers ago which took place on the street outside St Patrick's Catholic Church on Donegall Street. Or the recent Muslim controversy which began with some of the verbal content of a different YouTube clip, published by the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle. Both of these issues jammed the radio phone-in shows and late-night tv panel discussions for weeks, Twitter was ablaze and all the usual commentariat got plenty of coverage opportunities to air their views and opinions. Both incidents will be referred to for years to come when opportunity arises. These are just two examples which spring to mind, I am sure there are many more.

But it seems to me that, unless there is some stereotypical political/sectarian controversy to be inflamed around a particular incident, the majority of our commentators don't really give a fiddlers. If DJ Wilkinson had been a member of a flute band, the whole world would know by now and President Obama would have been on the phone to David Cameron about it. The disrespect and sacrilege would be no different, but the context would be 'juicier', sorry I mean 'newsworthy', and the analysis would be wall-to-wall. You can imagine the headlines and tweets - "Loyalist DJ desecrates Catholic Church" - or indeed, the converse, "Republican DJ desecrates Protestant Church". It's all so predictable.

As I mentioned in this post back in April, it's only the sectarian attacks on churches that attract coverage. As a personal example, about 6 years ago I had my car broken into outside a small church in inner city east Belfast  - the window smashed in, glovebox ransacked, mobile phone stolen. But this was just low-level "Prod-on-Prod" vandalism. Nobody wrote an article about it. Had the very same incident happened, carried out by the very same perpetrators, just a few hundred yards away to a car outside the local Catholic church it would have been deemed 'newsworthy' and a handful of politicians would have been wheeled out to issue statements and fill airtime. photographers and camera crews would have been sent out - on a quiet news day it may have made the front page. All because it would have been presented as 'sectarian'. 

Just as I was formulating some thoughts, Gail Walker, in the Belfast Telegraph, nailed it. Just as Fionnuala Meredith nailed the issue of socially acceptable prejudice in the same paper a few days ago.

It is refreshing to see and read some free thinking in our era of stifling (secular) orthodoxy and highly selective (fashionable) outrage. There are things it is now en vogue or maybe even socially obligatory to express anger about. But don't expect weeks of media outrage about DJ Wilkinson - it's not going to happen.

(* PS: by the way, the music is terrible)