Freedom of Expression

“Hundreds of Perverts in Co. Mayo”

Index on Censorship has what may be the most surreal story of the year.

A popular community-based website in the west of Ireland was forced to cease operating last week in the fallout that followed the publication of an inflammatory article in a local newpaper attacking alleged gay ‘perverts’.

The article, penned by Tony Geraghty, editor and proprietor of local free freesheet, the Mayo Echo, provoked widespread debate on Irish web forums. This quite startling front-page article, which reads like a bad Onion spoof, told the story of a recreational area in Castlebar, Co Mayo being transformed into a latter day Sodom, with hundreds of men visiting on a weekly basis to have anonymous sex with strangers, propositioning young boys, and getting their rocks off whilst thumbing through children’s magazines.

The Castlebar community website hosted a discussion on the piece, where posters cast doubt on the veracity of Mr Geraghty’s claims. Mr Geraghty responded by demanding the removal of the offending posts, along with:

“any information or data that might identify those persons that contributed these postings, IP address etc. I am also requesting the identities of the moderators that monitor and vet the postings.’

The small community website subsequently shut down in the face of legal threats.

Mr Geraghty then appeared on RTE’s popular Lifeline call in show, where he faced call after call from angry locals, incensed by both the story and by the bullying of the Castlebar website:

Another caller forced Mr Geraghty into furious backtracking regarding the nature of the images from ‘boys’ magazines’ found at the site, which turned out to be nothing more malign than the Dandy, home of Desperate Dan and Beryl the Peril. Nonetheless, Mr Geraghty made the bizarre claim that the comic had been used for ’sexual gratification’.

Mr Geraghty also claimed that the police “had been conducting an undercover operation for many months, leading to several recent arrests, and had received numerous complaints”. The police, however, denied having conducted an operation at all, arresting anybody, or having received any complaints at all.  

There’s something rather heartwarming about the whole story. Read it for yourself.

And make a special point of reading Mr Geraghty’s original story in the Mayo Echo. It makes the Portadown News look like the New York Review of Books.

UPDATE

“Down with this sort of thing”

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