Irish Journalist Plays Victim Card on ’Pantigate’ Scandal
Just in time for Easter, allegedly anti-gay Irish journalist that came to international attention in February over a defamation lawsuit involving Irish drag performer/activist Panti Bliss is throwing himself on the metaphorical cross. He is doing so over the incident which made him €40,000 ($55K USD) richer, but has caused him to lose sleep and friends in the media, the Independent reports.
John Waters, is one of the two Irish journalists and right wing Catholic lobby group who received a settlement from Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), Ireland’s national public service medium, after drag-queen-turned-activist Panti Bliss (Rory O’Neill) referred to them homophobic during a television interview. Waters and company sued RTÉ for defamation.
Waters has a long history of making anti-gay rhetoric. Leading up to the RTÉ interview (nicknamed "Pantigate" by the press), he said this of same-sex marriage: "This is really a kind of satire on marriage which is being conducted by the gay lobby. It’s not that they want to get married; they want to destroy the institution of marriage because they’re envious of it..."
Lacking the protection of a U.S.-like First Amendment, and fearing a drawn out battle, RTÉ paid out over €80 thousand (or approximately $110,000 USD.) The settlement angered people all over Ireland and some 2,000 amassed in the following weeks for a demonstration against RTÉ for having caved in. A viral YouTube video of Bliss/O’Neill explaining the case on the stage of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, went viral and catapulted the local drag personality to international stardom.
In his first interview since the incident, Waters takes no time in turning the situation that angered Ireland around to paint himself the victim.
"This is about free speech. It is about the rights of people to speak about what is important without being demonized," he said.
An excerpt from the Sunday Independent interview with Waters reads: