How to be moral and Newtownabbey Borough Council


It’s funny what some people find offensive. That’s funny-peculiar, not funny-ha-ha. Newtownabbey Borough Council have found a dramatic performance by the Reduced Shakespeare Company offensive without ever having attended a performance. I think all critics should take note: you don’t have to go to the film/play or read the book or visit the art gallery. Just get somebody to tell you about a wee bit of it.

I caught part of a radio interview with one of the objecting (as distinct from objectionable) people. He said the Reduced Shakespeare Company had described themselves as “putting the fun in fundamentalism”.  This, the objecting man said, was objectionable and offensive. Blank the play from your mind for a moment and think about that. If you don’t fall over the back of the sofa laughing you’re probably so dull-witted you should stand for election to Newtownabbey Borough Council.

Actually, despite what I’ve said, when you stand back far enough, this isn’t funny at all. What it’s saying is that what is moral and not moral can be decided by a small group. In other words, this small group knows what God wants whereas you don’t. Not content with doing  themselves what they believe God wants, they are determined that everybody else, or as many people as they can arrange it for, will do what God wants. Or what they think God wants.

I’m prepared to bet that a number of the people objecting to the play – that is, intent on forcing the rest of us to follow their notion of good (which of course means it’s not good at all, because you can’t do good or bad when you’re being forced to do something – moral actions must involve choice) …Where was I? Oh yes,  that bet. I’ll bet at least some of those objectionable objectors believe that, as a practising Catholic, I will burn in hell for all eternity. And if you’re a practising Catholic, so will you. And so probably will most of the other people in the world, Catholic or otherwise, who don’t share the religious convictions of the objectors. Call me old-fashioned but I find that objectionable. If I could I’d ban such opinions. Holier-than-thou is one thing, but this verges on moral fascism.

A final thought: all this is very, very good for the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Why? Because somehow, somewhere, that show of theirs is going to be put on, either in Newtownabbey or outside it, and people otherwise not interested in theatre are going to  be lining up to see it. They owe Newtownabbey Borough Council a huge vote of thanks. You couldn’t buy this kind of publicity.

7 Responses to How to be moral and Newtownabbey Borough Council

  1. giordanobruno January 25, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Jake O’Kane got it about right on this. We expect them to get our bins emptied, not be our moral guardians.
    But once you buy into that big beardy guy in the sky stuff you can hardly find it objectionable if some other bunch of gullible fools think your bunch of gullible fools will burn in some imaginary land called hell. Or don’t you believe in hell?
    As for moral actions involving choice, or free will, well I don’t think saying “be good or burn in hell” is really much of a choice.

    • Jude Collins January 25, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

      Ha ha haa, Gio. You are a witty chap. I think you’ll need to brush up on your theology if you’re into big beardy guys in the sky. Hell? Mmm – no, I don’t think I do believe in it. Which I suppose makes me an a la carte Catholic. I hope that’s OK with you. I can still find it offensive…well maybe more insulting that people believe I’m living a life that merits eternity in a fiery pit. It’s certainly not complimentary. And your last sentence – oh dear. You’ll DEFINITELY have to take a course in theology if you think that virtue = being frightened into rule-following.All that said, keep ’em coming, Gio. You’ve cheered me up on a wet Saturday afternoon. I’m now off to to see ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’. I expect to be amused, saddened, made thoughtful. Mad, isn’t it? I mean, those people up on the screen aren’t real. It’s all pretend. Imaginary. Daft, I call it…

  2. willow January 25, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    On the other hand, they love the fun in funding.

  3. maryjo January 25, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Fortunately the sanctimonious borough councillors of Newtownabbey limit their objections to negative comment. Imagine what will happen if the Reduced Shakespeare Company ever reduces the Koran, in their own hilarious and inimitable style.

  4. Pointis January 25, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    Most Protestants / unionists are decent honest people and in my experience don’t share the the fundamentalist views of their elected representatives. Why vote for them then? I suppose that’s down to good old fashioned fear and bigotry!

  5. philip kelly January 25, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    this must be a warning to sinn feinn the spots of the leopard haven’t changed noir ireland Taliban are alive and well in north Antrim

  6. ANOTHER JUDE January 26, 2014 at 12:11 am #

    These are the sort of people who condemn a unionist politician for attending Requiem Mass for a murdered policeman, who keep quiet about loyalist bandsmen urinating outside a chapel, who are not too bothered by a statue of the Mother of God being placed on a bonfire and who call the leader of the original and largest Christian Church the` anti Christ`. I do not know whether or not they are genuinely offended by this play, but if they are then all I can say on behalf of my fellow Catholics is, `Welcome To My World`.