Hard questioning sets an interesting tone

Hard questioning sets an interesting tone Emily Mattis Photo:BBC

Last week I heard and saw quite a few interesting items, most of which can be listened back to on the various web players.

I relied on EWTN News Nightly for keeping in touch with the visit of Pope Francis to Japan and Thailand. On Monday of last week they reported his inspirational words at the sites of the atomic explosions calling for an end to the use and possession of nuclear weapons and the diversion of funds used for the arms races to care for the poor. His last Mass at a Tokyo stadium attracted around 50,000 Japanese Catholics and seemed a very joyful and enthusiastic event.

Newsnight (BBC2, Tues-day) took a critical look at the transgender phenomenon, in particular highlighting the stories of those wanting to de-transition. Sometimes people chose to change gender because of unhappiness with some aspect of their lives but find that transitioning doesn’t solve the proble.

We heard that those who supported such people were sometimes seen as traitors to the transgender cause.

I was surprised by the hard questioning presenter Emily Matlis gave to a representative from a gender clinic. She was challenging the idea of putting people on the path to gender change without enough research into the long term consequences.

On Tuesday’s Hard Shoulder (Newstalk) presenter Ivan Yates had quite an intersting interview with journalist Niamh Horan on the topic of forgiveness. The context was the unforgiving nature of social media with pile-ons showing no mercy as the online mob bring their pitchforks and flaming torches to current debates and past misdemeanors.  Horan was strongly in favour of forgiveness, especially when peopple were sorry.

Tuesday night’s Sky News highlighted the case of the three African Americans released from prison (thanks to the efforts of the Innocence Project) after spending 36 years there, arrested as teens for a murder they didn’t commit.

Their relief and even sense of wonder as they looked up to open skies in the presence of their loved ones was quite moving, as was their dignity, their measured statements, and in the case of at least two of them their expression of religious faith.

On Wednesday’s Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk) drugs awareness advocate Marie Byrne spoke a lot of sense about suggestions of legalising drugs.

She thought it was a bad move, with people profiting from the misery of others. Some texters suggested there would be a huge tax take from a legalised drugs market, money that could go to the health services. They didn’t mention the increased health issues that would inevitably follow greater drug use.

Byrne thought it would be a “tax on misery”, and was critical of the concept of “recreational” drug use. She pointed out that some in authority were having second thoughts in Portugal, fearing that legalisation was normalising drug use and further, that, despite legalisation, there was still a thriving black market in drugs in Colorado as the legal drugs were taxed and therfore more expensive.

On LBC Radio in the UK the presenters are generally too opinionated for my liking, but at least there’s some diversity of viewpoint on political matters, e.g. some Brexiteers, some Remainers. Last Thursday morning I was listening to the Nick Ferrari Show (LBC Radio in the UK)  and there was a telling exchange at the end – a caller gently accused him of bias and he was courteous to the caller, accepted that if bias was unconscious then by definition he wouldn’t be aware of it, and finished by saying that he would take the comments on board. It was refreshing – on our own media I find presenters get cranky and defensive if accused of bias, which is revealing in itself.

The transgender issue resurfaced on last Friday evening’s Drivetime (RTÉ Radio 1) when Mary Wilson interviewed Minister Regina Doherty about proposed changes to the legislation. You’ll be interested to know that they have for now stopped short of recognising a third gender!

Also of interest, considering what I wrote earlier, is that she proposes to streamline the process for those who wish to de-transition.

A spokesperson for a trans advocacy group was also interviewed, a person who thought that parental permission should be needed for young people.

Of course there was no-one on the programme challenging the whole idea or even airing the many reservations that are out there about the ongoing implications of these developments.


Pick of the Week
Channel  4, Saturday, December 7, 10 am

Bart Sells His Soul: Bart casually sells his soul to Milhouse and finds something vital missing.

RTÉ1, RTÉ Radio 1 Extra and Long Wave 252, Sunday, December 8, 11 am

Mass with a gathered congregation and choir from Clogher don Óige the Youth Ministry organisation of the Diocese of Clogher with music led by Catherine McLoughlin. The celebrant is Fr Leo Creelman.

Lucy Worsley’s Christmas Carol Odyssey
BBC4, Monday, December 9, 9pm also 2 am

Lucy Worsley reveals the surprising stories behind our favourite Christmas carols –from pagan rituals to religious conflicts, French dances and World War I.