Don't Be Offended!

Pauline Mellon urges restraint when hearing views we do not share. Pauline Mellon blogs @ The Diary Of A Derry Mother.

The announcement that comedian Frankie Boyle is scheduled to appear as a main act at this years Belfast Feile has caused considerable controversy. This follows jokes made by Boyle five years ago about children with Downs syndrome. Whilst his sense of humour is not to my taste and quite outlandish, I question if attempts to ban him from the festival are really the answer?
If yes then could this action open 'offense' type flood gates leaving all events open to similar scrutiny? Boyle's Jokes are not to everyone's taste but then the same could be said for a lot of comedy. Two films in particular spring to mind; 'Me, Myself and Irene' and 'Something about Mary'. 'Me Myself and Irene' presents a distorted view of Schizophrenia and 'Something about Mary' contains distasteful references to adults with learning disabilities, yet both were big films. 
Having taken time to look at the Feile schedule I have found that all of the events have the potential to cause offense to either individuals or groups within the community. Mark Almond, former lead singer of the eighties band Soft Cell and a self professed member of the Church of Satan is due to perform at the festival. Surely his appearance could send out the wrong message or it could just be a case of better the devil you know! Then we have the music of provocative Irish rebel band the Wolfetones. Is this really an appropriate choice in this a post-conflict and multi-cultural society? After all the Wolfetones chant what some consider offensive and what others can be arrested for saying. Whilst I have no wish to dismiss the depth of feeling over the Boyle issue the common sense side of me questions where this will end?
Surely an easier option for objectors would be to encourage people to avoid the show, as from experience I find this type of attention can often spark curiosity and lead to increased attendance as has happened. This also happened with the Reduced Shakespeare Company production ' The Bible' which had been banned after being branded 'blasphemous' by Newtownabbey Borough Council. When the decision was reversed the tickets sold better than had been initially expected, another event that sold out after people got their backs up was the Belfast appearance by George Galloway.
Two people who I regard as two of the biggest comedians in the North, the PSNI Chief Constable and the Deputy First Minister will be performing at the festival. I wouldn't go and see them because no doubt I would take offense at something they would say, but I do respect the right of others to waste their time and money going to see them, that's personal choice.
From the Life of Brian, to the Sex Pistols' 'god save the queen' there will always be something that causes offense. The bottom line is that if I think something is going to offend me I won't go to it, why would I want to go to or draw attention to something that may cause me distress? 
Essentially, exercise personal choice, and allow others to exercise theirs. 
I will now leave you with the words of a friend......
To all those who have got really hot under the collar about Frankie Boyle. Ask yourself this. If you were disabled who would make your blood boil? A comedian who tells a joke about your disability? Or the politician who claims to be defending your rights whilst making plans to cut the benefits you depend on that makes your life more bearable?

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

12 comments to ''Don't Be Offended! "

  1. Don't be offended? Why protest then? No point in the protest outside St Mary's when the two comedians are inside. Just stay away, from this protest or from all protests? Aren't protests showing that you are offended? Offended at political policing? No point in protesting outside courts when paedophile are on trial, just stay away and don't waste your time? Why bother? I mean the Down syndrome association should just not buy tickets to the daft comedy and not protest at their offence at someone who makes his money from laughing at their vulnerable kids?

    My sister has downs, went to school with Stephen Hartley, so let's all sit back and allow others to laugh? The fuck we will.

    Let's head up to Derry and laugh at Pauline's .

  2. You seem to have missed the point. Boyle is performing at what is supposed to be a "community" festival and many people are offended by that. It is good to see so many protesting.

  3. Does this not go back to freedom of speech? If people want to go see an outrageous comedian then they should go, if people want to protest then they should protest. For what what it's worth I think Frankie Boyle just takes the piss out of a sick society. The man clearly has a social conscience. The thing is do these protests ever work? Protests made Billy Conolly bigger, they made life of Brian bigger and so on

  4. Peter

    I don't believe I have missed the point which is why I took time to point out how other events too have the potential to cause offense within the community. At no stage did I question the right to protest, everyone has that right and I for one would defend that right. What I did point out is that in some cases boycotting can be more effective. To quote David Higgins “Protests made Billy Conolly bigger, they made life of Brian bigger” as was the point I was making with 'The Bible', George Galloway and Frankie Boyle.


    To be honest I was half tempted to ignore your comment/rant given you seem to have taken more issue with the title than the points made. As I have stated above I have never questioned the right to protest what I have done however is defended the right to choose and have also pointed out that in some cases boycotting can be more effective. This is my opinion, you may not like it, but you won't change it, no matter how many you bring with you to Derry to laugh at me, and please feel free to come. Far be it from me to deny you or anyone the right to protest even if it only involves laughing at me for daring to have an opinion that differs to your own.

    In relation to your comments about paedophiles and political policing these issues are a million miles from what over 2000 people in West Belfast regard a entertainment, which is no attempt to dismiss the disgust you feel.. A paedophile inflicts physical and psychological hurt on a child Frankie Boyle at worst causes offense. And as for political policing, this policing fuels mass resentment and impacts both physically and psychologically on people/families, which again is a world away from someone telling jokes whether in poor taste or not.

    One question before I go Gerard. Do you plan to visit the homes of those who attend the Frankie Boyle show to laugh at them?

    Following this will you be picketing the homes and offices of politicians who are cutting services to some of the most vulnerable people in our community, including children with downs? If not then maybe now is the time to re-evaluate your priorities.

    PS I find your use of profanity offensive. .

  5. The down syndrome assoc buying tickets to see Frankie Boyle ?why are those who are complaining about so called intolerance being so intolerant,its because of wankers such as these that tickets for Frankie,s show are now gold dust,I for one will not be put of seeing this excellent alternative comedian, seen him in Aberdeen cant wait for the Belfast gig,if you really want to laugh at something funny ,look at who stands to reap the big profits from this show ,yip quisling $inn £eind they own the feile, their cronie tombstone Tom Hartley was protesting about Frankie making an appearance at this event while all over social media his fucking fat coupon is seen grinning alongside his president for life and beyond with the Israeli ambassador,now Frankie Boyle has never been accused of having blood on his hands the same cant be said for those bastards ,so in essence those who wish to protest should indeed do so but I,ll keep mine for issues that really are relevant,

  6. Pauline, it's a pity I didn't ignore your post for this has to be the first time since visiting this blog some time ago that I've made a second comment on any post.

    Firstly boycotting is effective but not in this case. The festival began from humble roots. I'm sure Anthony or anyone else who reads Anthony's blog from west Belfast would agree. It began with street party's in most streets, which was something I personally never liked because I find them a very British idea. But that was the beginnings of the festival. For the community. The west belfast community, and it shows how far from its roots the festival has gone when someone like Boyle has been invited.

    You don't know that 2,000 people in west Belfast bought tickets, the purchasers could be from anywhere. There's a petition on line with 1500 signatures against Boyle, maybe more now.

    You say you take offence at profanity but visit a censor offenders blog, that was described by Noël Doran as rude, or some such. If that's the case a sensitive soul like you should be careful about what blogs they visit because there's more profanity in the comment after mine. Maybe it's profanity directed at you caused you offence, if so, think how the families of Down's syndrome folk felt like and then you in your wisdom (or arse holery) say don't take offence.

    What do you know about the families of learning disabled or the fight they fight every day for equality and acceptance of their children? Expert on that too? Does your "community activism" include that? Or are you simply a blogger with no insight in to what you spew about?

    As regards protesting about paedos you say that's a million miles away from Boyle because he only causes offence. Don't let your kids free on the Internet then because cyber bullying isn't far off the trail of offence. Offence can cause a lot of damage and has brought chaos to many lives, let's not down play it.

    As regards your different opinions, personally I don't give a stuff what you think. I would never read what you say except it's on this blog. As I said before I will know better in future to ignore your ramblings...

    You say will I visit the homes of those who bought tickets? Will you provide their addresses? Oh that's right, you don't know, but set yourself up as though you do, and then decide to speak on behalf of people that bought tickets claiming they are from west Belfast. What rubbish, nay shite..that is.

    Please reply away but I willbe ignoring....

  7. Gerard

    The only point that you made that was any way relevant was that maybe not all of these people are from West Belfast. Have you taken a census on where the people who bought tickets are from?

    Can I ask from the outset, are you sure you're not a disgruntled dyslexic satanist? Be honest now, do you do the moonlight tango with Beelzebub? The foxtrot with the archfiend?

    I respect your opinion, I respect your right to hold an opinion, and that seems to be the difference between us. From the outset I had made clear I am not a fan of Boyle, something that seems to have escaped your diatribe. You also make a lot of assumptions about me and what I know. I've worked with children, including those with special needs until I had to leave to look after one of my own children who was diagnosed with a medical condition. You know us arseholes who know nothing...

    What's interesting is that you feel you can personalise and hurl abuse yet you are giving off about Frankie Boyle causing offense, must be great to be on a pedestal like you. As for your use of profanity, I really couldn't give a flying one what language you hurl at me, by the way that was what's known as sarcasm.

    I also couldn't care less whether you read what I write, that's called freedom of choice, just as I can exercise my freedom of speech. I will debate my point, I will stand over what I write I don't need people to agree with me, because if they don't I'm not going to threaten to go round to their house and protest. I'll leave that to you and the type of people who picketed Anthony's house when he had the temerity to express an opinion.

    But if you're truly concerned about the impact on the disabled and vulnerable, let me know when you're holding a public protest against the politicians, I'll take off my 'know it all hat' and put on my 'activist' hat, it wouldn't be the first time I traveled to Belfast to support someone. After all Frankie Boyle is here for one night whereas the cuts to services are long-term.

    I now look forward to reading the next exciting instalment of 'Lets get sweary with Gerry'. You should try and get a spot in next years Feile, I might even buy a ticket. And if the audience don't laugh you can always threaten to go round to their houses and give off to them.

    Below is a piece all for you Gerard, as you won't be responding I’ll find out what you think of it when you set about picketing the politicians in defense of the vulnerable you appear to speak for......

  8. If 1500 people were sincere in their disgust of Frankie Boyle then why didnt they purchase tickets and not show up;Frankie of course you,d say would still get paid,but the adverse publicity re empty seats would be a bummer for someone who loves an audience,but as we all know here one or two dickheads with a puter and an electoral register can make a bang from a damp squib,online petitions are as believable as a statement from Gerry Itwasntme,s mouth ,Frankie Boyle is a highly intelligent social commentator who uses comedy as a delivery, unlike comments here,intolerant and ranting to fucking light a description .

  9. Pauline has just given a great example of using restraint on hearing views we do not share....:)

  10. Thanks Gerard.

    The only thing is you haven't aired many views just threats and bile. I also note your refusal to engage with an actual Frankie Boyle fan on this thread which would suggest your issue with myself is a personal one or that you have an issue with women in general, maybe both. That said I'll never know as your identity is hidden, but then I suppose it would have to be otherwise it wouldn't be so easy to spew bile. A bit of advice Gerard (if that really is your name) next time you respond to something take time to read it first as this has been a problem with other contributors in the past. And if you should choose to come to Derry in the near future let me know and I'll get the kettle on and please feel free to bring as any as you want with you. Keep on keeping on!!!!!!

  11. No threats from me, no bile just an issue with those who have no experience of learning disability saying don't take offence. No hidden identity, no picketing of people's homes, nothing of that nature. No issue with women or other wise, although you do sound like the female that over reacted by calling Anthony a stalker ��

    Thanks for the lesson in restraint though....

  12. Gerard

    For someone who wasn't going to respond you're doing grand.

    No need to thank me for the lesson in restraint as you clearly don't appreciate my idea of humour either, but then why would you, you don't me outside of reading my “ramblings”!?!?! And as for overreacting to be fair the words kettle and pot spring to mind.

    Again let me know when you plan to protest over the long-term cuts to front-line services as I said before I'll be there and if needs be will take responsibility for sorting the posters and banners I have plenty of experience in this area.

    Anthony I wasn't aware you were accused of being a stalker? Lol

    Onwards and upwards Gerard!?


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