20 May 2008

Two weeks in a row now I’ve stayed awake despite the programme giving me every opportunity not to.

If you missed it, these were the topics under discussion:

Q: What can we do about the cyber-bullying of teenagers?
A: Directly before Q+A, RTE ran a Prime Time Investigates about phone-text/email bullying and youtube posted street fights involving young kids being beaten up in school yards as feral classmates look on in excitement. It was absolutely harrowing. Absolutely harrowing. I felt terrible for all the kids who were featured in the programme but for some reason the story of that poor lad in Donegal made a particularly strong impression. Anyway… the panel, except for Marc Coleman, seemed to agree that cyberspace was to blame for the phenomenon and bemoaned the fact that it was ‘all so anonymous’. But is the internet really responsible for putting sick ideas in these young thugs’ minds? And far from being anonymous, isn’t it so very easy to identify practically everyone involved in these youtube clips? And don’t we have the technology to track down the mobile phones generating these nasty texts? And don’t these poorly raised psychopaths have parents? None of this was discussed.

Q: Has Biffo any credibility in calling for pay restraint when the cabinet is considering a a pay rise?
Marc Coleman mentioned that there were too many six figure earners in the public services, but apart from that the discussion spun off into something irrelevant…

Q: Will Dustin win Eurovision?
‘I knew I was going to be asked this one…,’ said Louis Walshe.

Q: Has the Lisbon Treaty turned into a battle of soundbites?
Perhaps because the question was incorrectly framed, panellists quickly fell into the trap of trying to sound informed and authoritative about nothing. The problem with the question is that, although there has been no real debate on the Treaty, you couldn’t really classify its infantile defence by Dick Roche and others as soundbitey. The only thing approaching a soundbite that I can remember was when Bertie said something like ‘you’d want to be mad’ to vote no. The most remarkable comment on the matter – perhaps of the whole evening – was Thomas Byrne’s assertion that reading the entire Treaty was no longer necessary now that the Referrendum Commission’s most basic of synopses was in circulation. If the Treaty can be so easily reduced to a couple of hundred words, why isn’t only a couple of hundred words?

As usual John pointed his pen, the political correspondent on the panel took the moral high ground, young audience members were eager and obvious, old audience members missed the point and the representatives of the main political parties cancelled each other out. 

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