“When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to Fly by those nets.” 
James Joyce

We Need to Talk About Stephen

We Need to Talk About Stephen

So the current word on the street is that the DUP had a deal ready to go Friday last, before they caved in to the hardline extremists in their base, who see any compromise whatsoever as a form of extreme Lundyism.

Regardless of whether there is any truth to that, one cannot deny that one man has elevated and amplified these extremist minority opinions to the extent that they seem to drown out all reasonable discourse. This man has done more to foster division in this part of the world than all the others put together. He is a monster and he must be stopped at all costs.

Yes, it’s time to talk about Stephen Nolan. Again.

Like many others, I am furious about the inability of our politicians to deliver even a fudgeable agreement. So you’ll forgive me if I express my genuine head-exploding incomprehension at those who share my disappointment still tuning in to paid agitator Stephen Nolan.

  Now houl on there!”

Now houl on there!”

“Paid agitator? Now houl on there!” he’ll disingenuously squeal, throwing his hands up with eyes wide in mock indignation, before retreating to his fall back argument of “giving a voice to the voiceless”. As if he’s some sort of champion of the common man, rather than the two bit, lowest common denominator troublemaker he is. A two bit, lowest common denominator troublemaker I might add, whose contributors are anything but voiceless, since he has them on every single day of the bastard year, whether the subject is relevant to them or not.

“Today on Nolan; are you an expert in, or have you even read any background material on our subject at all? If not, then we’d love to hear from you! We’re particularly keen to hear from men on the unfair treatment of women in the workplace. Lines are open, folks…”     

The BBC says it has a duty to “inform, educate, and entertain”.

Now whether Nolan is entertaining or not is a matter of personal opinion, but I think we can all agree that he categorically isn't. How about informative or educational though? On the occasions when I catch a snippet of his show in the back of a taxi, like the rats from a sinking ship, I can actually feel facts abandoning my brain. So nope. The BBC are definitely neglecting their duty here.

Who can honestly say they’ve been “informed and educated” by someone like Jim Allister talking about the likes of Same sex Marriage, or Jamie Bryson talking about… anything really?  

I could write an entire book about Bryson (and maybe one day I will – he’s written three after all) and how Nolan exploits him as an inflammatory mouthpiece, but the moment that best exemplifies the utter transparency of Nolan’s contrarian agenda, was his abortion debate in October last year.

Before I go any further, I understand the need for balance. Despite the fact that celibate oul boys shouldn’t be weighing in on issues affecting the bodies of women and pregnant people, churches - like it or not - have influence over a lot of people. Some high ranking God-botherer was depressingly to be expected.

Nolan instead took the nuclear option and invited Susan Anne White; a terrifying Voltron-esque amalgam of Mary Whitehouse and Fred Phelps. This is a woman who wants to make homosexuality and adultery illegal and blames the 2008 financial crash on “the feminists”.   

Seriously, read her manifesto from the time she stood for office. It’s like you’d created an algorithm to generate policies based on the most deranged comments on the Daily Mail website, then passed the results to the Witchfinder General for proofreading

Thankfully, such an unhinged manifesto (“Restore Corporal Punishment to Schools!”) meant she received only 166 votes at the polls. Now my question is this: In what strange parallel dimension did this laughable fringe figure “inform, educate, and entertain”? In what alternate universe was it a responsible decision to invite such a stone obvious minority extremist to discuss a subject she knows nothing about?

The answer is none. I’ve personally used a wormhole to travel to them all and it’s just as cynical and calculated a move in each one of them.

Stephen Nolan is no fool. He knew fine rightly the reaction it would provoke and he made that call anyway for the sweet, sweet ratings. If he were a fictional character, I’d kinda admire his magnificent bastardry; like Littlefinger, reaping the spoils of chaos. Unfortunately we‘re the smallfolk in this situation, and it’s insulting to our intelligence when he hides behind the excuse of giving us a voice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for a second the show should be censored. I also don’t think everyone should agree with me. Debate is important, but not for its own sake. Similarly, a free press is a wonderful thing, and when used to hold the government to account can be phenomenally powerful and vital to a democracy.

All I’m saying is that we don’t have to tune in.  

If you’re sick to the back teeth of hearing the same group of ill-informed and/or wilfully ignorant reactionaries, screaming and foaming at the mouth over everything and nothing: change the channel. Go for a walk. Read a book. Go Devil Worshipping in your local park, whatever floats your boat. But stop stoking that fire because if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem.

The power is literally in your hand.

Well, provided you’ve changed your batteries…

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