If you ever needed a master class in how NOT to respond to satire, look no further than to the Irish Prime Minister, Brian Biffo Cowen and the ruling Fianna Fáil party which he leads.
Conor Casby painted two nude paintings of the Taoiseach which were hung in two of Dublin’s most prestigious galleries as a stunt.
The artist might now be charged with indecency, incitement to hatred and criminal damage, which was hammering a nail into a gallery wall.
RTÉ, the Irish public broadcaster, reported the stunt, as you would expect them to. It was undoubtedly newsworthy because of the setting of the stunt, and also a much welcomed comical story in otherwise gloomy times. That’s not how Cowen and his people saw it however, and RTÉ were scandalously forced to issue a groveling apology the next day, for any personal offence caused to Mr Cowen or his family and for any disrespect shown to the office of the Taoiseach!
This came after Michael Kennedy, a member of parliament for Fianna Fáil, called the lighthearted RTÉ report “a gross insult to the dignity of the office of Taoiseach,” and called for the director general of the broadcaster to resign(!)
Unbelievable, hilarious – and sadly characteristic of people’s response to satire these days.
One can only hope that Biffo from now on, without exception, is portrait naked by all Irish cartoonists and satirists, until the end of his career.
It’s the only appropriate response the ruling party’s official lack of humour.