Sunday, March 11, 2007

When is politics not political

Stella mentioned on Thursday that the ads for the Trócaire Lenten campaign on gender inequality was ordered off the air because the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland "prohibits advertising directed towards a political end."

I was pissed off. Think on it - here is Trócaire's mission statement:

Trócaire envisages a just world where people’s dignity is ensured, rights are respected and basic needs are met; where there is equity in the sharing of resources and people are free to be the authors of their own development.

How is any of the above not political?

I said to Bob that I'd love to meet the idiot who made the complaint and ask them why? But Bob said that idiots make complaints like this all the time yet why was it upheld this time? He reminded me that this was an election year and we should try and figure out how Trócaire's campaign hurts the government.

On Thursday, Vincent Brown wrote in -

The decision of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) to instruct all commercial broadcasters, including Today FM and TV3, to cease broadcasting the Trócaire advertisement on gender equality is incomprehensible.

The television and radio advertisement campaign draws attention to the reality that female babies, irrespective of their origin, their ethnicity, their state of health or otherwise, all share a common disadvantage by reason of their gender. The advertisement also includes a section encouraging members of the public to access the charity's website to donate online or order a Trócaire box.

The website in turn asks individuals to participate in the campaign for gender equality by signing a petition lobbying the Irish Government to enact a specific UN resolution on the issue.

The BCI said in defense of its decision: "Following detailed is the commission's initial view that the advertisement is contrary to Section 10(3) of the Radio and Television Act, 1988, which prohibits advertising directed towards a political end."

I contrast RTÉ has decided to broadcast the advertisement. Peter Feeney, head of public affairs with RTÉ, said "RTÉ's view is that we define political ends quite tightly....We would feel this Trócaire advertisement is much more general in nature….. we also try to draw a distinction between national campaigns and international campaigns."

The part I put in bold could well be the key to all this.

Trócaire Director Justin Kilcullen said on Newstalk radio on Sunday morning that it was Today FM who brought the issue of the ad to the BCI.

All very interesting.


RTÉ have ignored the BCI's ruling. How can they do this?

Also, someone made the point in the same radio show on Newstalk that the BCI have to come down hard on any ad campaign that pursues a political agenda. Otherwise, we could end up with a situation like in the US where powerful vested interests get all the airwaves.

It's complicated.


Anonymous said...

"RTÉ have ignored the BCI's ruling. How can they do this?"

Because RTE are not governed by the BCI.

John The Bad said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

but by singling out females as victims of gender inequality and collecting money only for them, all you're doing is creating another type of gender inequality, in that male babies won't benefit from any of this collection...

John The Bad said...

Hmmm... whoever you are, I'll be honest with you - that's something I would have said very recently. Now, I'm in no position to debate this as I don't know enough. Your point is interesting but I think that this campaign isn't about treating female babies only. The use of the babies in the ad campaign is a device to make a point.

Sinisilma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sinisilma said...

I'll give it a shot. :)

Sorry guys, but the ad IS about female babies! Anonymous is getting it backwards above. The campaign is not 'singling out females as victims of gender inequality.' Gender inequality singles out females for disadvantage, and the campaign is not an attempt to redress that.

Its not a case of "howcome the girls are getting more of trocaire's equality than us". Thats nonsense. These type of campaigns are an attempt to level the playing field.

That type of argument - "you're creating another inequality" is one of the first refuges of advantaged people in protecting their advantage - in this case, males being defensive of (or denying) a patriarchal society. You see the same argument a lot from people who are against rights for asylum seekers or migrant workers.

I'm not attacking anonymous for what he says (yes, I presume its a he. come on man, put your name behind what you say) But I think its important to be aware of your ideological standpoint - ESPECIALLY if you think you haven't got one. Relevant here is the difference between "hegemonic" masculinity and "complicit." I don't imply that someone who takes the above line of argument is hegemonic - i.e. essentially in favour of the subordination of women - but I would be fairly certain that they are, like me, complicit - enjoying the advantages of male superiority, enforcing it passively, and all for equality in NAME though a bit slow in practice because we like to be on top. A lot of its unconscious.

And, final point - campaigns to end gender inequality by helping females to achieve the same possibilities as males - in health, employment, quality of life, etc - DO benefit male babies. We're building a better world for everybody here, right?

John The Bad said...

And there you have it.