Going soft?

This O’Reilly case before the Irish courts has got me in a bit of a bind: a few weeks back I noted that I really don’t care about the sordid details to come and then the prosecution up the circumstantial ante and read private e-mails into the court’s record. The human tragedy at the centre of the case comes to the fore when such private correspondence is aired. Not so much dirty linen in public but the polyester sheets of a 5 year old with food poisoning.

It is very easy to use, hear and recall to your mates over pints words like murder, sexual abuse and domestic violence. The words lose their power in the public sphere when used so frequently. So in this country it can be hard to say the word priest without thinking ‘wonder was he a paedophile?’ It is as if the currency and democratisation of the word makes it harder to empathise with what is actually taking place behind doors, in bedrooms and elsewhere.

The real anger expressed in a medium that does not lend itself to linguistic subtlety is present in all of the accused’s email messages. While his sister, the recipient, tries her best to talk him down from his position of clear anger, the overwhelming emotion coming across in O’Reilly’s words is anger against his present wife and a system that he knows himself will not recognise his rights as a father. He feels let down by the local health workers and knows that it is only a question of access to his kids if he splits from his wife, not custody. OK, so I know there are many problems with family law in this sad little state and I’m not going to come over all John Waters. But coming in the same week as a report that recounts the numbers of children in care, it might make people think twice when criticism is levelled at parents for not doing ‘their very best’ by their kids. As if the kids were the only reason why a couple fell in love, had passionate sex and cared enough for each other that they set up a home.

Relationships are complex and when you add sex into the mix (sexmix?) no amount of legal technicality can hold the stresses and strains of it falling apart.

It is usually not that good but Revolver in this week’s Ticket is actually rather good:

During the broadcast [of Live Earth] the BBC received a number of phone calls from viewers. Some 130 of them rang to complain about Chris Rock using a swear word, while 420 complained that Metallica’s set had been cut short to accommodate a song by Crowded House in Sydney.

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