Belfast Telegraph

Where's all the 'liberal' fury at altar sex video filmed in Belfast church?

Gail Walker

By Gail Walker

Well, it just so happens that we live in a democratic country. This isn't Russia, Iraq, or Egypt. This is a sorry little location in an advanced post-industrialised Western state with full civil liberties and freedom of religious expression.

Which is why, when DJ Wilkinson decided to travel here to film the video for his song Half Life on the altar of the Good Shepherd Church on Belfast's Ormeau Road, he and director Aoife McArdle, production company Somesuch & Co and Ram Records knew they were on safe territory.

After all, there'd been the Pastor McConnell remarks, the uproar over the First Minister's defensive remarks in his support, racist attacks across the city, and, well, the usual stereotypes which apply to us anyway and make us fair game still.

No one other than the discredited Catholic Church would make a fuss, and who'd pay attention to them anyway, what with their child abuse scandals, attitudes to equal marriage and abortion, and, blimey, murder of 800 babies in Tuam?

Fair game, indeed.

And, indeed, they were spot on.

Because once more the poverty of so-called 'liberal' thinking here is such that – just like the US allying with our new friends in Iran in the war against terror in Iraq and Syria – the liberals haven't been told yet how to respond. They're all confused. And, as always when that occurs, totally silent.

An attack on the dignity of religion, or freedom of worshippers to go about their business unabused is no reason for protest.

It might be that the video is 'art' – and the liberals like that, when they agree with it. It might be that the music-makers in question are just like Pussy Riot in Russia and right-on people like them. In any case, whatever you say, say nothing.

So filming a semi-nude couple drinking Holy Water, messing about in the pews before writhing semi-naked on the very altar of a chapel passes without comment, other than strangely embarrassed reports of how the Catholic Church authorities responded.

You see, when people talk here about how there has been no 'ordinary politics', they always mean it's to do with the DUP and sectarian politics – 'sectarian' being the other side's views, of course.

What the liberal gurus don't mean is that the ordinary, common sense norms of day-to-day politics aren't applied here at all, principally by themselves as their supposed champions.

The liberal rule of thumb in these matters – 'I'm not offended, therefore it's not offensive' – simply doesn't provide an adequate measure for social behaviour.

So, the nasty, corrosive implications of the Wilkinson stunt go by without comment. But once you imagine the outcry had Wilkinson, McArdle et al filmed their frolic in a mosque, synagogue or Hindu temple, the hypocrisy of our liberal cliques is exposed.

In short, not that liberal after all. On the contrary, it actually fosters abuse. Ordinary Christian believers – most likely the mums, dads and grannies of right-on liberals – will find no support from that quarter.

But who cares anyway? The rallies against racism have stopped – but we can take it racism hasn't. Amnesty has put away its banners and won't be unfurling them on behalf of the Good Shepherd's church-goers.

There was nothing 'accidental', misjudged or 'poorly expressed' about the video's origins. It wasn't inept, unintentional or a mistake.

It was absolutely intentional, driven by the marketplace of the international music industry in full knowledge that it could descend on Belfast and get away with the kind of antics which they wouldn't have managed elsewhere – and which they wouldn't have wanted to do elsewhere.

Belfast was the whole point. The sex on the altar and the misuse of permission freely given was a perfect expression of the gross 'chancer' culture we've allowed develop with a snigger, while sternly wringing our hands over other matters.

There's always been a very fine line between criticism of the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland by the liberal elite and good old-fashioned bigotry. Just as there is a fine line between criticism of the loyal orders and good old-fashioned sectarianism.

Everybody's free to have a go now, because Christians have become the minority it's all right to hurt and humiliate. The minority who have no rights? Who now is prepared to speak for them?

Don't expect any fury from our commentariat, or demanded apologies, or Wilkinson scampering down the Ormeau Road to say sorry.

Maybe the only people who will feel moved to protest are those with most to lose from the whittling away of regard for good church-going people here.

The poor. The drunks. The drug addicts. The homeless. The prisoners. The unclothed.

But nobody, other than the churches, really pays any attention to them anyway.

Follow me on Twitter: @GWalker9

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph