Saturday, September 25, 2004

I am guilty of being real

I think Sinead O'Connor is one of the finest artists I've ever heard - her first performance on "Saturday Night Live" literally stunned me. "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got" is played as regularly in our car and home as any Dylan CD we own. But, O'Connor seems to have a genius for not only becoming a object of derision, but also then taking exactly the wrong action to fan the flames.

In response to two recent newspaper articles, one where she apparently called for a ‘national delousing day’ to rid Ireland's children of head lice, a good idea run under the derisory headline, "Sinead’s latest wacky crusade", O'Connor has taken out a full-page advertisment in the Irish national press to complain that she should not be called crazy.

It's an extraordinary document, and O'Connor's very real pain tears across the page. But she apparently never learned what most people learn as children, that the quickest way to get more teasing is to whine about being teased.

The full text of the 2,000 word statement is below:

I am exercising my right ...which is the same as any other person's, to reply when someone has written about them the type of article which Anna Coogan was made to write about myself and my brother Joseph yesterday in the Evening Herald. On foot of my having set out to do something fun and helpful.

I believe that more so called "celebrities" should stand up for themselves when subjected to this type of dismissive abuse which I have been the butt of in this country for twenty years now, without really ever standing up for myself. In an intelligent manner. To me, this issue is not about me, but about the freedom God gave all of us, in fact the DUTY we have, to be ourselves. And we all have the right to be who we are, without being ridiculed and abused every time we set foot out the door to go to work.

I have been the whipping post of Ireland's media for twenty years. I don’t think there can be any person male or female from this country who has been as consistently lashed as I have been and always am no matter what I set out to do. And what have I done to deserve these lashings? I have not behaved the way a woman is supposed to behave. I have refused before God to take no for an answer whenever it is because I am a woman. And if I complain about being abused by the media ye blame me for it. And say the abuse is my fault. I do not accept that.

If ye all think I am such a crazy person why do ye use me to sell your papers? Why do you bother writing about me at all? It doesn’t make sense.

And because having been raised in the era of Gay Byrne and Marian Finucane, in an Ireland which was allowed to voice its true self before the age of tabloid news. Our hands have always been encouraged in this country, to be raised and what I adore about my country is that very thing, that we voice our selves and we do so because we were given that gift by RTE telifis Eireann, in an era when nobody else would give it. I grew up in that age, where old men fired off letters to newspapers and one would think nothing of finding one's father exercising HIS right to speak. I am proud of being my father’s and my country's daughter.

I feel I have as much right as any person on this earth to express my opinion because I believe that we all can change the world. If ye think I am so ridiculous why do ye give me any attention? And the world is so full of agony at the moment for so many people, and it’s because of hatred. All kinds of hatred. And the media have done more than any religion has ever done, to spread unlovingness in this world but there comes a time when really it has to stop. Because ye are causing an awful lot of real pain to a lot of real people whom you think of as mere pieces of paper. Because ye have not met these people and ever sat with them. Nor walked a mile in their shoes. Yet ye are happy to lash women. When a man can say and do what he pleases and everyone thinks that's great.

I also grew up in an Ireland where people protested openly about whatever they needed to and were given that freedom, which is gone now. Replaced by fear. And no wonder people are afraid. If what ye have done to Sinead O'Connor over the years is anything to go by, they'd have dead good reason to play the game and laugh along and be very afraid indeed.

I am guilty of being real. In an arena which is nothing BUT a lie, never mind full of lies. If any of ye knew where I came from, believe me, ye would weep, if ye knew the half of what created Sinead O'Connor. Contrary to what your article stated, my brother Joseph himself, in Magill magazine some twelve years ago, stated that what was done to us by our mother was to the extent that if you did it to an adult you would be put behind bars. There has never been a dispute between me and my brother over what happened to us.

Only we deal with our experiences differently in ways which are right for us as individuals. I needed to sing it out. I needed permission to be crazy. Why should crazy be a term of abuse? If ye knew even the half, which you will never know, of what we went through in our mother's house in the Ireland of the late sixties and seventies which covered up so much child abuse. And people were made ashamed to speak and afraid of so called madness, or worse, the fear that nasty people would treat you as if you were crazy. A child of violence and abuse is not allowed a voice. I needed to really use singing and songwriting to express my broken spirit having arrived as I did on the music scene at 17 years of age. I talked about what my songs were about. Without discussing the personal experiences of my brothers or sister.

I needed to do that, so that I might recover my soul somehow and I had never found any other way. And yes at the time I talked, child abuse was a hot potato. Before I spoke as an Irish 19 year old, about my experience of horrific and evil terror. People wanted to make me out to be a liar. And they have wrongly repeatedly suggested that I am not speaking the truth. Before God let me swear to you that if I or any of us were to tell you what we went through this country would cry for a month.

To know what I and my brothers and sister survived, makes me proud of us all. And we will never any of us tell ye. For it is only between us four. And let me state that while my hero, my brother Joseph, may have been upset that I spoke, he never said I was not telling truth.

To me, I had to voice my self. And before me, anyone who talked about abuse was blacked out as if there was something to be ashamed of. But I was never ashamed. I didn’t do what was done. Why should I hide it? These things need out and I outed.

Which was unheard of. And since I did the media have been after me and it is them as well as me who have created controversy. I was being me. They made that a controversy, not me. But to bring my brother and I into a piece like yesterday's on foot of me trying to do something fun and good, is just abuse. And I really need to tell you all here, that twenty years of being ridiculed, lashed, called mad, by people who don’t even know me, who don’t even think for a second how that affects my life or the other lives they play games with, has taken a severe toll on my health and has had consequences for my life which have resulted in me really being fair game apparently for really an awful lot of people to really crush and sh*te on. And I know that I am unconventional and have been a little sh*t stirrer.

But for good and loving reasons, and I don’t see that what I have done deserves the type of horrific treatment of me by the media every time I set foot out to do anything. Could it be because I am an unconventional woman. Yes. For ye know if ye wrote about Bono like you do about me he'd kick your asses.

Mind you, I know he, not knowing me, thinks I’m just a crazy bitch too, and I feel so sore when every time I meet Harry Crosbie he tells me something horrible someone in the scene has to say about me. What did I do to deserve such pillioring? Was I not entitled, to grow up in public, and make all my mistakes out of an honest heart.

Not a bad one. And I came from such low self esteem in the first place, but twenty years of ye being so horrible to me has truly truly smashed my spirit and my heart.So I may have brought some of it on myself, but for what reason did I bring it?

Because I was real. In an arena of liars who lie to themselves. And are petrified by their own madnesses and have not the courage to go there in full view of the world as I do. For I don’t believe in shame or fear. That’s why Ye keep hurting me too. To shut me up because I am a good thing. But I will never let bullying and false cruelty make me afraid, after coming from where I came from.

I deserve life. And I have to be honest with ye from the bottom of my heart now. I know that being unusual, I am responsible for this mess too. But Ye are too, and it aint fair to always blame it on me.

Whatever I have done in the past, while I had a chance before god to speak for justice even though I might be mocked, I deserve to be able to sing and work and try to just do some good in this world and I can’t do it because it’s such a national pastime now, box sinead o'Connor. I tell ye no one could live under such pressure. I have never hurt anyone by what I said or did as an artist. Why do ye want to hurt me so much? I tell you from the bottom of my heart, I can’t live with it any more.

I beg ye please. Could I just be redeemed? Whatever I have done or not done, I am a good and loving women who did what she did out of passionate love for God, and for truth at any cost. Please, I just want to be a little old lady now, and not be all controversial and not be bashed and called crazy and laughed at when I open my mouth to sing or speak. Why are the media so cruel to people? Don’t ye see we are not bits of paper/ My heart is not a bit of paper.

And I beg ye, I can’t live with the pain of being this nation’s whipping post any longer. Untie me please an wash me down I ask ye. An let me just get up off the floor and try to sing some good into this world and I'll be happy never to open my mouth to speak again if ye will only call a ceasefire on Sinead because she getting old and weak an she just can’t take it.

None of ye actually take the time to get to know who I really am. An ye think nothing of being so cruel. And if I say anything I am blamed and told I bring it on myself? How? By being real? Because I wasn’t in it for the money.

Please. Can we bury the frigging history of Sinead O’Connor and not have all this same abusive cruelty barfed out every time I try to live.

I have three children to mind. I am a full time mother. Not what ye imagine I am. I have not had some "frenetic" life. Yeah, I been crazy with pain, as ye would be too if ye had come from where I truly came from. And if ye were on the receiving end of what I have been given by ye since I was nineteen years of age. And if ye knew ye would be proud of me, that I didn’t shut up. Please folks, can we come to some arrangement here because it ain’t that ye can’t see I am a good thing too. Why ye want to hurt me so much? I have not complained from my heart before. And there doesn’t seem to be a press complaints commission here. But since it’s become a national pastime treating Sinead O’Connor like a crazy bitch, if there was one, they probably would not give a damn.

Please, I just want to sing religious stuff from now on, I am thirty eight. I want to head into middle age with some peace in my soul, surely ye can say she deserves peace at least. I never set out to do any harm as an artist. And I don’t believe I have done any harm, or anything to deserve such abuse and ridicule and disrespect as I get. My kids need me to be happy and strong. Not afraid to live.

I’ll be honest here from the bottom of my heart, if ye want me to be someone who can be of use to this world, can’t ye give me support? After years of mocking me?I beg ye. Let me leave Sinead O’Connor behind and step out to do my singing without having to battle walls of prejudice and pain. I will behave. Can ye?

We are all entitled to redemption.

I believe I am a person with a very large and passionate heart who can do a lot of loving good for this country which I passionately adore. If I am loved and given space to grow and not have my spirit smashed in the ways me and ye have smashed it. I really love life and my kids and God and my singing. But I tell ye I cant cope as a vulnerable woman in this world, when I am still being bashed around as a national pastime everytime I try to do anything even good.

I need support. A lot of gentle loving support. And forgiveness. I grew up in public. Please let me live. And instead of spreading hatred in this desperately spiritually lost world, can ye not try to give a bit of love so someone might not have to feel that they are so awful they don’t even deserve to exist. That’s the real Sinead.

Being real. In the words of Eliza Doolittle, with whom I identify hugely, "I'm a good girl I am". Please stop hurting me and help me to be even better instead.

I realise I risk ye all taking the piss again. But I'm into being real. And not letting that kind of thing make me afraid to be who I am.

I am sorry for any hurt I have ever done anyone in this worldby anything I ever did or said or didn’t do or say. Please let me have a second chance at just singing and bringing some love into people's lives with singing, instead of bringing pain into my own. I ask you this before God and in God's name.

Please stop hurting me and maybe I could start being more bloody useful. Ye know if I were really as crazy as ye make out I am I would deserve compassion, not bashing.

Sinead O'Connor

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