Thursday, 17 September 2009
Boxer wanted: must be good at writing sonnets
In the north, Eileen Calder from the Belfast Rape Crisis Centre is calling for a block on Mike Tyson using the Waterfront Hall. In the south, Seamus Heaney is calling on people in the south of Ireland to vote Yes on Lisbon. Two unrelated appeals? Not when you think about it.
Eileen wants to stop Tyson talking in the Waterfront because he’s been convicted of rape and she doesn’t want to give a platform to a rapist. Fine, except that Tyson won’t be appearing on stage because he’s a rapist, it’ll be because he was once the most fearsome heavyweight boxer in the world – some say the most fearsome heavyweight boxer ever. So while anyone with a smidgin of human decency would wish that all rapists had never engaged in such vileness, that aspect of Tyson’s life has no bearing on what has brought him fame.
As for Seamus Heaney, he’s a very good poet (probably not a great one but certainly very good) but as far as I know he has no political expertise. So why anyone should want to hear his opinion on Lisbon is a a mystery. In fact, Ireland’s one indisputably great poet, W B Yeats, with whom Heaney is sometimes compared, had some wildly hair-brained notions beyond his poetry, including a frank admiration for fascism.
So it’s truly odd as well as illogical, the way people keep using extraneous criteria when coming to a judgement, whether about the stage appearance of an ex-boxer or the desirability of voting Yes to the same treaty that a while back received a resounding No. It’s as well we don’t apply such thinking to medical matters, otherwise we’d be calling off our scheduled brain operation on the grounds that the surgeon had been fiddling his tax returns.