On return from a holiday, there is nothing like the sound of the pips on BBC Radio 4 in the morning to make you feel like you're home. That's what I was enjoying on Monday morning after having returned the day before from a fabulous skiing holiday in France. Everything was going nicely until Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland and the most senior catholic clergy in the UK, was given air time and, before I knew it, I was in a fit of rage.
Cardinal O'Brien had been invited on to give a response to the government's latest move to bring gay marriage into line, and give gay people the same rights, as heterosexual couples heading into marriage. Before he could help himself, or before the BBC could prevent it being broadcast to the nation, Mr O'Brien filled the airwave with some of the most poisonous and vicious words I had heard from anybody, on any topic for a long time. Describing gay marriage as 'shaming the nation' and going onto say, among other things, that the moral standard of the country would fall if this was allowed to happen, he showed himself to be a man of hatred and condemnation and to be every bit a fundamentalist, the kind that we try so hard to so hard to stamp out of this country.
Hate crime is becoming more and more of an issue in this country and I am pleased to see the government's taking steps to stamp it out, although I do recognise that there is still a long way to go on it. Steps are taken to stop extremists in other sections of the community from spreading theirs vile and putrid ideas from infiltrating mainstream society. The BNP for example, don't get much publicity through our national broadcasting channels to spread their racist fascism and similarly the muslim extremists are prevented from broadcasting theirs evil ways. The Muslim anti war crowd are prevented, or contained from, marching our streets with their banners accusing our soldiers of being butchers in Afghanistan much as they have tried to make their point in Royal Wooten Bassett. Similarly the English Defence League are not given the air time to broadcast their harmful and offensive messages.
I can't understand why the mainstream state funded media don't treat Cardinal O'Brien with the same disdain and contempt that we treat others with similarly extreme and offensive views. While we continue to allow such people to spout their hatred over our airwaves, we will stand accused of double standards and harbouring hate within our culture. While we protect our soldiers and families, our ethnic minorities from offensive language in the media, surely we have the same duty of care to protect lesbian and gay people from similar attacks. As a disabled person, I would expect that the media wouldn't allow anybody to say that disabled people are a shame on society and indeed, there was a public outcry when Glen Hoddle former England Manager made ugly remarks about disabled people in the 1990s.
Both the Scottish and Westminster governments spend millions trying to promote equality, prevent discrimination and stamp out sectarianism. The ugly side of Scottish football reared its head in 2011 when death threats were made and football managers were attacked both on and off the pitch. However, as long as those such as Mr O'Brien are given the space and the airtime to spread their vile messages, the governments are making their battle for equality more difficult. We don't let Muslim clerics on our national radio satiations to spread their offensive messages to the non-Muslims of this country so similarly we ought not let Roman Catholic clerics spread their vile and offence messages. The dog collar and the clerical robes should not be viewed as a costume that, within which, gives anybody the right of absolute freedom to make vicious attacks on any group within our society. The cardinal ought be treated with the same contempt as we treat the most fundament and right wing of any other group, and not given the airtime to spread he vile and offensive messages on our national broadcasting channels.