On the humourous treatment of a sensitive subject…

I cannot remember the last time I had so many requests to censure one of our bloggers, as in the ‘Overheard in Belfast‘ thread, regarding the placement a Hunger Strike poster opposite a pub, on the main Belfast – Derry Road past Derriaghy Bellaghy. That the row has kept up over the weekend, is perhaps an indication of the emotions it has touched off.Some thoughts on the matter:

The first is that the sign in question is there for all to read on a public highway that is used by all sides of the community. No doubt more people will see it now it’s been pointed out on Slugger. But however humourously put, it is a proper subject of public debate. Not least for some of the unlying themes it has unlocked.

Clearly some of our readers clearly feel that a line has been unacceptably crossed here. One has even accused me of bias in allowing it to stand. Although I’m tempted to turn the question around and ask wh precisely do they consider that line to consist of, and how could it be enforced in future without putting tight political strictures on political debate here on Slugger?

Towards the end of what is now quite a lengthy thread, Urquhart makes an interesting point when he argues that the solemness attached to the Hunger Strikes by relatives and political advocates is not shared by political opponents or indeed local victims of the IRA and/or the INLA.

Which takes us back to the ridicule implied within the original story. Who is to blame for its alleged breach of public taste? The teller of the story? The reporter of the story? Or is it, perhaps, whoever decided to place the commemoration popster poster in that particular roadside position in the first place?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty