From Sinéad to Róisín, why blasphemous women get cancelled

The trans persecution of Róisín Murphy echoes the religious persecution of Sinéad O’Connor.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Free Speech Identity Politics UK

A female Irish singer standing up to a powerful global religion. Speaking out against its priests, slamming them for their abuse of children. And then finding herself damned as a blasphemer for doing so, with some haters even threatening to put a match to her entire pop career over her unholy utterances. No, I’m not talking about Sinéad O’Connor – I’m talking about Róisín Murphy.

If the young and woke have ever wondered how it was possible that there was so much media rage against O’Connor just for ripping up a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live in 1992, well now they know. For some of them are visiting the very same holy fury on Murphy. They’ve reacted with as much fire and wrath to her criticism of puberty blockers as hotheaded Catholics did to O’Connor’s criticism of the Pope. They’re the fuming theocrats now, who hound heretical women who dare to wonder out loud if their religion might be causing harm to kids’ bodies and minds.

When O’Connor died in July, there was an outpouring of fond reminiscence for her very public revolt against Rome. To Gen Z, that clip of O’Connor saying ‘Fight the real enemy’ as she tore up the Pope’s likeness is ancient history. It’s a flashback to a strange millennium where, even at the millennium’s end, women could be mauled and shamed for criticising their priestly betters.

That there were frontpage headlines denouncing O’Connor’s ‘HOLY TERROR’, threats of violence against her from Catholic men (‘I would have gave her such a smack’, said Joe Pesci), and protests at which her records were crushed under a steamroller is all grimly fascinating to today’s right-on youngsters. Thank God – or whoever – we’ve moved on since then, they think.

Have we, though? The similarities between the religious persecution of O’Connor and the trans persecution of Murphy are striking. The two Irish women committed similar thoughtcrimes, with O’Connor insisting the Catholic Church was physically and emotionally abusing children, and Murphy saying there are aspects of the trans ideology that cause harm to ‘little mixed-up kids’. Puberty-blocking drugs ‘ARE FUCKED, absolutely desolate, big Pharama laughing all the way to the bank’, she said. That was her Pope-ripping moment, the sinful comment for which the mob demanded her scalp.

And both O’Connor and Murphy paid a price for their blasphemy. O’Connor’s was greater, of course. Her rebuke of Rome caused a global storm, making headlines everywhere. She was booed, boycotted, sidelined. The Pope incident ‘effectively marked the end of O’Connor’s career as a pop star’, as the Los Angeles Times said in its ‘appreciation of O’Connor after her death.

Murphy’s cancellation has been less brutal, though that will be of little comfort to this other Irish woman who has found herself in the crosshairs of a splenetic neo-religious rage. She’s been damned as a bigot, a transphobe, a TERF, which means witch. The mob extracted an apology from her in which she essentially pleads for forgiveness for ‘stepping out of line’. What a kick the priests of the trans cult must have got from those words: as we know from history, religious men love nothing more than forcing errant women to recant their profane beliefs.

Murphy’s records haven’t been reduced to piles of shattered, sharp-edged vinyl, as O’Connor’s were on the weird steamroller protest outside her record-company HQ in New York. But there are reports that her record company will cease all promotion for her new album, Hit Parade, which is out this week. Some venues have cancelled appearances by Murphy. Shameful women cannot be seen in public, you see. Hide away the sacrilegious harridans.

So, a note to the woke: you’re the witch-hunters now. For all your talk of social justice, for all your ostentatious bristling at archaic institutions like the Catholic Church, you’re now the ones who take delight in reprimanding female heretics. You’re now the ones who love the twisted delights of visiting hate upon she-devils.

The religion of the women-shamers may have changed – it’s the cult of gender, not the institutions of Rome, that no mere female is allowed to criticise these days. The priests have changed, too: it’s less men of the cloth than men in dresses; no longer stiff men in pointy hats but angry fellas in bad wigs. But the intolerance of dissent is as ferocious as it ever was.

The trans cult has given rise to an entire infrastructure of religious policing. Cops in the UK act as the movement’s very own morality police. Where the Guidance Patrol in Iran goes around checking that women are correctly veiled, police in the UK make sure that women are correctly imbibing the trans ideology. Women have been questioned and even arrested by cops for such phoney crimes as ‘misgendering’ or just gender-critical thinking. ‘Where you are in your thinking is very much needing a lot of enlightenment and reading’, said a police community officer with spectacular arrogance to a woman who had gender-critical stickers on her front door. They said the same to Sinéad.

There is even the threat of violence to prevent today’s female heretics from ‘stepping out of line’, to use Murphy’s own sad words. At least Joe Pesci’s tongue was in his cheek when he said he would have grabbed O’Connor ‘by her eyebrows’ – given she had no hair – and ‘gave her such a smack’. There is no such irreverence in the trans threat of physical punishment against dissenting women. Witness the heaving mob of feral misogynists who surrounded Kellie-Jay Keen in New Zealand at a Let Women Speak rally, or the whoops and cheers that greeted trans activist Sarah Jane Baker when he said to the crowd at a Trans Pride rally in London in July: ‘If you see a TERF, punch them in the fucking face.’ Such menaces make the angry response to O’Connor look civilised in comparison.

Speaking of Sarah Jane Baker – last week, the same week Róisín Murphy was being hauled over the coals for criticising puberty blockers, he was cleared of the offence of intentionally inciting violence. So there you have it. In the eyes of the right-on, a woman expressing her honest and entirely correct view on puberty blockers is scum who must be hunted, while a man who calls for the violent assault of women gets off scot-free. I’ve never really liked the term ‘male privilege’, but what else do we call this?

After the hounding of Murphy, no serious person can deny that cancel culture exists. And that it poses a grave threat to free thought and free speech. The persecution of Róisín is proof that a great shift has occurred. Where once censorship was enforced by conservatives, now it’s the handiwork of ‘radicals’. Where it used to be the religious right who yelled ‘You can’t say that!’, now it’s the woke left. Where once it was priests who strung up iconoclastic women, now it’s the politically correct. ‘Sinéad O’Connor was right all along’, was the headline to that LA Times piece about O’Connor’s persecution for saying kids were being abused by priests. How long until society recognises that Róisín Murphy is also right that pumping probably gay kids full of life-altering hormones is ‘FUCKED’?

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Free Speech Identity Politics UK


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