There’s something quite disturbing going out over the airwaves in the Southeast. A breakfast show on Beat 102-103 is arranging a competition entitled “Two strangers and a wedding”. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it’s (unfortunately) pretty much self-explanatory. Basically, they are going to select two entrants, one female and one lad, and marry them. The clincher is that these two individuals will not meet each other until the ceremony. A panel of experts (and I’m sure the term “expert” is rather carelessly applied) will decide on the two most compatible contestants and assume it’ll all be love at first sight.
I was quite surprised, at least initially, that this got very little reaction in the national media. The only place I’ve encountered any reporting of this is on Beat itself. I suspect they’re disappointed themselves with this as they’ve put a considerable effort into promoting it. Their website has now even designated the station “The home of Two Strangers and a Wedding”. I suspect the national media is refusing to treat the concept with any level of seriousness. After all, it’s been done before, even in this country (learning this was for me the most shocking aspect of the whole thing). I briefly considered calling some newsdesks myself and asking if they were interested in a story on it, but out of consideration for the greater good I decided not to. This is the type of event that doesn’t really need attention brought to it. It’s an awful concept, made worse by the station’s smug, unquestioning notion that it’s a “social experiment”. In offering a uninterested defence of the concept, the host of the show (I haven’t bothered to learn his name) asked if it’s any better if couples marry after meeting pissed in a nightclub. Perhaps not, but is this really the only other option? Has the country suddenly been colonised to Las Vegas? Nothing they say can change the fact that they’re taking the most intimate moments people’s lives, not to mention the greatest commitment a person can make, and turning them into cheap entertainment.
I wouldn’t have even posted this, but one aspect occurred to me that I thought deserved airing. The Dáil is currently processing a civil partnership Bill for homosexual couples. Last year Wexford senator Jim Walshe issued a motion to both Parliament houses seeking to confirm that under this Bill civil partnership would not amount to gay marriage. I followed this up at the time with a piece for The Sunday Times that publicised the names of some of the signatories to Walshe’s motion. While researching this I spoke to Senator John Hanafin, brother to Mary and son to that wonderful advocate of gay rights (and anyone who might be slightly questioning of the Catholic Church) Des Hanafin. He told me, “I don’t mind what people do in their own homes, but don’t ask me to call that a marriage.” Incidentally, he also seemed to expect credit for his progressiveness, having told the Iranian ambassador that he disagreed with putting homosexuals to death. I tried to explain that gay people would find little to be grateful for if the extent of their support is being allowed to live, but this seem to go over his head.
So allow me to summarise. A committed couple in love, who wish to declare their love publicly, need to have this declaration differentiated from an actual “marriage” should they have similar genitalia, as this would ruin the sanctity of marriage. Where as a couple who’ve never meet and who have invested absolutely nothing in each other can freely avail of a marriage that’s been given away as a prize on a breakfast radio show, because at least they’re straight. No ruining of the sanctity of marriage here.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.