Friday, October 17, 2008

Coarseness of language on R.T.E. radio Letter To the Irish Times

Dear Madam,

Your correspondent Breda O’Brien has commented on the new Broadcasting Bill before the Oireachtas (21.6.08). What she had to say makes telling reading for quite a number of reasonable folk of my acquaintances. The Bill’s curiously restricted approach to all matters religious would seem to be nothing less than churlish. But whatever about this aspect of the proposed legislation , there is another issue concerning our public service broadcasting on R.T.E. which might be more easily reviewed by the Minister for Communications; an issue which of itself has nothing to do with God or religion. It relates to the increasing coarseness of language to be heard nowadays on R.T.E. radio in particular. Of course, profanities of various hues are and will remain a ‘colourful’ ingredient of our private national patois. However, when they punctuate interviews and discussions on the public airwaves, they demean the social environment (as your correspondent Deaglun O’ Breadun has recently noted). In view of the inter-connection between all aspects of human ecology, it could be argued that gratuitously coarse language insinuates an undertone of violence into public discourse and thus impacts negatively on the social environment. Moreover the use of locker room language addressing the public at large does violence to the sensibilities of many and not just fogies. It is widely acknowledged that Irish society is growing more violent by the day. It follows that anything which contributes, obliquely or otherwise, to this violence, is to be resisted. This includes what appears to be a licence to indulge at will, in the use of offensive expletives. The coarsening of discourse in society is a civic matter and when public service radio conspires, even unwittingly, in this process then tax payers are entitled to regard it as objectionable and as constituting unfair treatment. Besides, this problem does not seem to arise in the state broadcasting institutions of other countries. Perhaps a code of practise in this respect could be considered in framing R.T.E. policy. If the minister of communications, Eamon Ryan, could address this element in our social environment, it might well enhance the quality of our communal habitat.


Fr. Tom Stack


Adolfas Mekas said...

Dear Tom,
I and my son Sean are coming to Dublin beginning of July. Would like to see you after all these years. How can we contact you while in Dublin? I can be reached at -
Greetings from Poal,Adolfas

Frank Wintle said...

Thank you for your book, "No Earthly Estate" - it is somewhat life-changing.
Frank Wintle