Cardinal Cretin

But the overwhelming dominant norm of traditional marriage was enabled to be precisely that, a norm, because anything outside of that was treated as profoundly abnormal and either rejected or punished.  Male homosexual practice was criminalised, unmarried mothers institutionalised or shunned, the children of the outside the norm families similarly treated – anything that did not fit the dominant cultural norm was to be jailed, institutionalised or forced to flee – Irish Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly

There has been no shortage of Scottish bigots over the years. We witnessed enough of them on the streets of the North, armed and dangerous, in regiments like the Black Watch. And here they are tooling up once more with the weapons of prejudice, poised to strike again. In their sites this time around is that ‘grotesque’ act of gay marriage. Keith O’Brien, the cardinal of Scotland has targeted those societies that have opted to put a halt to discriminating against gay people. For allowing gays the same rights to marriage as straight people, they have in his warped world shamed themselves.

O’Brien preaches that if the current British government legalises gay marriage UK society would degenerate further into immorality. Which only means really that society would depart from Catholic teaching. That is hardly likely to make it more immoral. Conversely, it enhances morality by extending and deepening the concept of human rights to ever more people.

Moreover, concealing clerical rape of children – a practice O’Brien’s church seemed to treat as a sacrament  - is a clear act of moral degeneracy, whereas consensual gay relationships are just what many people do: as harmless as watching a game of football, and for those so inclined very rewarding, developmental and crucial to their human happiness.

Describing gay marriage as a 'grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right', O’Brien, echoing Tory MP Peter Bone who dismissed the proposal as ‘completely nuts’, called it ‘madness’. Then he went on to talk insanely of the ‘tyranny of tolerance.’ He must long for the intolerant days of the Inquisition and for a bygone era when women could be burned as witches because the clergy of the day could not tolerate their views or behaviour.

Yet it is precisely the culture of human rights that O’Brien seeks to subvert.  And the ‘tyranny of tolerance’ he tirades against is in large part the product of Catholic intolerance.  As Emily O’Reilly, the Irish Ombudswoman in her recent address to the Accord conference, argued on both counts:

A culture of human rights, added to a national revulsion, a national shame at how we treated many of those who did not fit the norm, has enabled an increasingly dominant live and let live, be happy, go your own way, follow your own dreams culture.

One of O’Brien’s prejudices was expressed as ‘if same-sex marriage is enacted into law what will happen to the teacher who wants to tell pupils that marriage can only mean – and has only ever meant – the union of a man and a woman?’

Well, simple, really. They can explain that what they previously taught was a prejudice that can no longer be stood over, pretty much as the earth is flat can no longer be stood over. The teachers who once taught that Galileo and Copernicus were heretics no longer teach it. Hardly a problem of insurmountable dimensions.

Taking the cardinal to task Dan Hodges simply contended that:

O’Brien could have attempted to explain, reason and persuade. Instead, he chose to go blasting in with all the tact and subtlety of a Chicago mobster. Marriage is my turf: the rest of you better just shut up and back off.

It is always the same with the dogmatists armed with the dubious insights of their own particular holy book. Luckily, as Hodges further asserted, in democratic societies the rule of thumb is that ‘the government responds to the will of the people, not the will of the clergy.’

At root O’Brien is trying to inflict his religious opinion on other people who don’t share it, don’t want to share it, and have an opinion entirely at odds with his own. Imagine the manager of Celtic seeking to outlaw support for Rangers just because of his own belief in Celtic. Blue would be banned from the streets of Glasgow, green and white alone would become the norm.

Society is much better off without the type of prejudice being pedalled by those men of god who seem both unwilling and unable to step outside their own inverted moral universe, a dark place aptly described by Musa Okwonga, who points out that O’Brien’s god:

is furious and reactionary, jealously guarding His turf.  He will make for a domineering partner, easily angered when you step outside your pre-defined lines ...  But we haven’t heard similarly vehement views on God’s behalf about, say, poverty or human rights in recent days.  There is nothing that seems to get O’Brien’s God so angry as gays getting married.

Vindictive sort of god that. No surprise he allowed for hell in his grand plan for creation and intends filling it with gays forever and ever and ever, amen.


  1. I thought Alec Salmonds comment that Rangers football club were "part of the fabric of Scottish society" would win perverse comment of the year in Scotland.

    But No O Brien the clown has outdone him. The life expectancy for a male born in the Calton area of the East end of Glasgow is 54, lower than that of a male in Gaza.

    That you bam O Brien is what you should be talking out about.

  2. Dont know what that clown no brain ops O Brien is on about,sure hasnt his church been fuckin people of all sexs throughout the generations,I,d wager that holy man has a few skeletons in his closet,

  3. AM

    I appreciate your concern with this as it is quite valid and well founded and I do share your views on this. However, I do wonder about your brand of atheism being purely anti-christian based rather than anti-religion per-say. Albeit you make general broad swipes at 'religion' on occasion but you tend to zoom into all shortcomings that are christian only. O’Brien is saying nothing that Jewish, Muslim or any other religious leaders are not in regard to homosexuality; well not quite, some are even more extreme than O’Brien.


  4. Tiarna,

    I write about what I see or what comes under my nose. A few years ago I was accused of being anti-Islam because of the view I had of the Danish cartoons. People were alleging that Christianity was not challenged in the same way. Religion is all the same to me. I have a piece due out in a few days time (just haven't got a slot yet) which will see some suggesting I am anti-Semitic.

    It is not even the atheism thing; it is simply the idea that those who hold a religious opinion think that it should have some form of special protection that the opinions of a soccer supporter should not have.

    Religion to me is bunkum. People are entitled to have the view and not be persecuted for it but they must never be allowed to practice their religion on other people who do not want it about them.

  5. AM

    I agree religion is a personal thing but every religion 'abducts' the bulk of its members/flock at infancy with the consent of the parents. This consent goes so far as to even permit what many international institutions regard as a form of torture, namely, crotch mutilations (mainly practiced by both Islam and Judaism).

    However, not all religions are the same while it might all be bunkum some do try and keep pace with contemporary societies and try to be meaningful in some way to peoples lives (many people need a religious comfort blanket).

    Western societies generally have laws to encourage tolerance, or equality, it might not be perfect but it is better than one can expect from any secular state.

    There was a taboo on speaking ill of the Catholic church or priests and we all now know the horrendous consequences of that, it cloaked all forms of sexual, physical, mental abuses along with exploitations in laundry rooms and forced child adoptions for cheap labour.

    While I have no doubt Christianity is still capable of shocking us but in the most part it has been exposed and humbled BUT that is not the case with other religions and in particular Islam is the new taboo religion. In the past critics of Catholicism were accused of being 'heathans' or supporters of the 'antichrist' today the term is 'Islamophobe'.

    While I might respect the person I can be repulsed and despise the teachings and practice of the religion, be that christian, hedonism, Islamic or whatever.

    I appreciate 'some' might accuse you of being anti-one religion or another based upon a one off blog (many years ago as you say) my view of your bias is based upon consistent quips and blogs where only Christian based beliefs, practices or religious leaders are berated. You are consistently one sided when venting on religion if even you throw in the odd token blog on other religions every few years.


  6. Tiarna,

    One religion is as bunkum as the next in that they hold to the belief of invisible men manipulating the world and people being able to survive their own deaths. That does not mean that people do not find them useful. But being useful means that something is truly useful not that its claims are true.

    Your point about Christianity is fine. It has been humbled. Had it not have been it would still be up to all its old tricks. Islam is in many respects the generally viewed religion of intolerance. There seems to be much less flexibility in it for a non literal reading of the Koran and associated texts. And in many areas it has a power to label that Christianity does not have.

    I have no doubt Christianity has been exposed and humbled. One crucial difference is Christianity has been deprived of state power. That has made it much less the malignant power it once was. The same should occur in Islam.

    There has not been a one off blog many years ago. There was a series of writings about the Danish cartoons issue. I was surprised to some extent about the amount of sectarianism that produced and demands for censorship. I am not one sided in that I don’t favour one religion over another. They are all the same to me, something not to be entertained. The writing may be one dimensional in that currently it focuses on Christian practices but that one dimensional is not one sided as traditionally understood in terms of preference or bias. Christianity is what I see or read about on a daily basis living where I do. The widespread clerical rape of children in Ireland was carried out by Christian clergy. I think this in your face type of thing is going to influence what you write. I recall Michael Manley the onetime Jamaican Prime minister and great culturalist speaking about Jamaican poets describing snowflakes falling on their faces. His point was that they had never seen snow. I guess I write about what is in front of me, what falls on my face, what ignites my interest.

  7. Tiarna ..if we believe absurdities,we shall commit atrocities...Voltaire

  8. AM

    I follow your reasoning about how you write about matters that you see. That is in itself is subject to what news editors allow through to the newsroom to be released to the public.

    For too long the church in Ireland enjoyed (and abused) its status of almost quasi statehood where it was always given special regard, and authority, by the State. Enda Kenny did well to finally slap them down.

    In coming years Ireland will be faced with cases that the UK has been dealing with for years but often goes under reported, that of forced marriages and honour killings which occur every year. Only a few years ago NI encountered its own case of two young girls being sent back to Pakistan against their will so that they could be married off. Also, no one knows how many illegal female circumcisions take place each year in Ireland or the UK. The welfare and cruelty to animals is also a matter of concern to me, all the big chain stores like Sainbury's and Tesco provide an excessively large amount of Haal slaughtered meat to a disproportionately low customer base. Many people are unaware that the meat they buy may have been inhumanely slaughtered. I mention this because you say you dislike religion being foisted upon those who do not want it well that is another way that it is.


    Yes, I am aware of that quote from Voltair and it applies as much to political beliefs as it does religious ones.

  9. Tiarna,

    ‘That is in itself is subject to what news editors allow through to the newsroom to be released to the public.’

    Only up to a point. Much of what I read will comes through blogs that are not subject to newsroom editing. I think also my interest in the US cultural wars draws me to particular sites which monitors the debate. The Christian right is very much trying to drive science underground and enforce policies of discrimination upon gays, Muslims and women.

    A while back I read three great books on the religious right in the US which I have been meaning to review. But with so much to review ... They relate to Intelligent Design which is a right wing Christian concept. I suppose it is a passing interest of mine. These people want bunkum taught in schools as science.

    Incidents like the forced marriage you refer to is always a source of annoyance. I would be an admirer of the work of Maryam Namazie who never ceases to highlight this type of issue.

    We can’t write about everything and that’s fine. The real crime is if we try to stop others writing about the things they wish to highlight.

  10. Tiarna good point about Halal meat, after 3 yerars of the no smoking ban 10,000 pubs disappeared.....just imagine what could disappear if you banned Halal meat?!!!!!!

  11. AM

    You will be pleased to note that the ECtHR has recently delivered Judgment in matters not far removed from O'Brien's homophobic rantings, I copy the Court's summary;

    Vejdeland and Others v. Sweden (no. 1813/07) 09.02.2012
    The case concerned the applicants’ conviction for distributing in an upper secondary school approximately 100 leaflets considered by the courts to be offensive to homosexuals. The applicants had distributed leaflets by an organisation called National Youth, by leaving them in or on the pupils’ lockers. The statements in the leaflets were, in particular, allegations that homosexuality was a “deviant sexual proclivity”, had “a morally destructive effect on the substance of society” and was responsible for the development of HIV and AIDS. The applicants claimed that they had not intended to express contempt for homosexuals as a group and stated that the purpose of their activity had been to start a debate about the lack of objectivity in the education in Swedish schools.

    The Court found that these statements had constituted serious and prejudicial allegations, even if they had not been a direct call to hateful acts. The Court stressed that discrimination based on sexual orientation was as serious as discrimination based on “race, origin or colour”. The Court concluded that there had been no violation of Article 10, as the interference with the applicants’ exercise of their right to freedom of expression had reasonably been regarded by the Swedish authorities as necessary in a democratic society for the protection of the reputation and rights of others.

  12. Tiarna,

    I am of a view that the courts should be protecting freedom of expression rather than policing it.

    Reading about it after you commented, I preferred the judgement given in the first case which I found more balanced and nuanced.

    “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. . . The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, … for the protection of the reputation or rights of others.”

  13. When I was a child a priest told me I was the cutest boy he,d ever seen,I was touched....

  14. Good quotes.

    Far better for the likes of O'Brien to go steaming in, thus discarding any advantage he might have gained from a more reasonable approach.

  15. Marty,

    have to agree with Saddened here. That is a great joke