StoneWall: Playing the man rather than the ball?

I have to say that for a while back in the day, I had to ban three words on Slugger. They were in order of their frequency: bigot; vermin; and scum.

They are not banned now. Things have settled in Northern Ireland to the extent that old enemies now make dull policy together on the height of neighbour’s hedges. With exception of the marching season in the summer many political passions have abated.

I banned them for the simple reason that they generally signalled a serious departure from what the English used describe as ‘good form’, or as we might more coarsely put it, a single-minded and collective effort to head straight down the proverbial toilet.

Put a lot more simply it indicated an abandonment of Slugger’s one golden rule: play the ball and not the man.

Now as His Grace points out on his blog, the word Bigot is fast becoming a watch word for political opponents to any change in the civil law governing marriage. And the new Stonewall Awards (sponsored by Google and PWC to mention but two) include Bigot of the Year:

Our own Ken Maginness is in there, or course. But so are two elders of the Scottish Catholic Church. Cranmer goes for what he clearly thinks is the weak underbelly of the event, it’s funding and finance:

They have all spoken out against government plans to redefine marriage and want marriage to remain defined as the life long, exclusive commitment between a man and a woman – a position shared by up to 70% of the population.

Hmmm… I’m not so sure.

Anyone who saw Tim Stanley’s excellent documentary on the political mores of America as seen through the US media or read the figures of just how little of the Catholic church’s Credo is believed by Irish Catholics will understand that adherence to church doctrine does not map on to church membership.

That said, I also wonder if Stonewall man playing tactics (or plain old fashioned bullying as His Grace puts it) are close to a generation out of date?

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