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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 25 October, 2014

Column: Cardinal Rules – On how to organise a social media protest

This week, the (not) Primate of All-Ireland tries to mobilise The Bebo, The Twitter and The Facebook to protest against a “shocking” art exhibition.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

FANS OF resident TheJournal.ie columnist (Not) Cardinal Brady will know he’s a devil for The Twitter. (He tweets as @CardinalBrady).

So when one of his ‘bishops’ asked him to organise a protest against a “vile, disgusting, obscene” art exhibition, he knew exactly where to begin…

Monday

An irate Bishop Brophy rings me about a local art exhibition. According to him a “self-avowed Venezuelan lesbian” is exhibiting a “shocking portrait of Our Lady” in the local art gallery. I ask him for more details.

“It’s offensive,“ he says “vile, disgusting, obscene.” I am almost afraid to, but I ask him if he has seen it.

“Are you mad?” he splutters, “I haven’t laid eyes on it.”

We talk some more and decide a protest campaign is what is needed. Because of my knowledge of contemporary culture, I know that traditional forms of protest are no longer considered effective. I tell Bishop Brophy that the internet will be our battleground, and I will consult Fr Lawlor, our resident social media expert on the way forward.

Tuesday

9am

Bishop Brophy, Fr Lawlor and I gather around the house computer. “E-protest is all the rage,” Fr Lawlor informs us. He decides that the first blow for decency must be struck on the Facebook, and he decides to set up an account.

4pm

It is heading for tea time and Fr Lawlor is now midway through the registration process. He has already given his mobile number, his RSI number, four email addresses, his home address, and the names of three family pets.

It is decided that perhaps The Facebook is not the best use of our time, and so the idea is dropped. Fr Lawlor starts to close his Facebook account.

Wednesday

9am

A new plan. It is decided that The Bebo is the way forward. “Thousands of people use it,” says Fr Lawlor. The registration process is quick and painless. Within minutes we are attempting to drum up support for our campaign. There are literally dozens of people online.

1.15pm

Our first message of support from Maria (15) in San Diego: “’Sup dawg?” she says. We are thrilled. Fr Lawlor engages her in conversation. He tells her about the awful painting.

“4shame,” she replies. She comments on Fr Lawlor’s ordination photos and says he looks “Pretty fly,” and she promises to drum up as much support for our campaign as possible.

4pm

Thanks to Maria’s work we have been sent  a link to a video by an artist called Lil’ Wayne whom we are reliably informed is “ill”, five more people have described Fr Lawlor’s ordination photos as “fly”, and we have an invitation to a pyjama party.

A decision is reached that Bebo might not be the way forward, and a prayer is said for Lil’ Wayne.

6pm

Fr Lawlor receives an email from the Facebook saying that in order to close his account they will need a first pressing of Barry Manilow’s Mandy signed (in pig’s blood), a strand of Louis Walsh’s hair, and a Condor egg.

Thursday

10am

Bishop Brophy is getting impatient. The Twitter will be our next port of call, as the impulsive immediacy of it users, along with its reputation for getting things done is just what we need.

10.15am

Almost immediate success! Fr Lawlor is being followed by Greg in Wisconsin who has 38,000 followers and who in turn follows 38,000 people. He seems sympathetic to our cause and replies with “Yes. I agree. That does seem to be the case.” We ask Greg to spread the word to his followers. Then Greg offers to sell Fr Lawlor some garden furniture.

10.30am

Greg hasn’t said anything to his followers about our protest, but he has offered to sell garden furniture to Fr Lawlor 16 times already. Bishop Brophy is tearing his hair out. Meanwhile, the Facebook have tweeted Fr Lawlor and have now told him that they will need both his birth cert and Paul McCartney’s to finally close his account.

We reluctantly delete the Twitter account and our hash tag #disgustingpaintingof OurLadybyselfavowedvenezuelanlesbian is sadly now redundant.

11.30pm

Woken by Fr Lawlor. Mark Zuckerberg is on the phone, and in order to speed up the process of closing Fr Lawlor’s Facebook account he will need my bank details.

I am initially reluctant, but he says something about “terms of agreement” and secure servers” and makes it all sound very reasonable.
Friday

12.20pm

Bishop Brophy tells us that the only way forward is obviously through traditional protest. The three of us march down to the gallery.

12.40pm

We are told that the painting has now gone abroad. The curator offers us some prints, but we decline to even look at them knowing full well that looking upon them would merely harden our resolve. We leave in a noble clerical huff.

1pm

Walking past the cinema we notice a group of protestors. We are told that a short film is running at the local film festival portraying Captain Kirk from Star Trek in high heels and a skirt. Fans are outraged and offended. They all have pointy ears and placards, and they seem to be a very unreasonable bunch.

Bishop Brophy shakes his head and sighs. “Some people are mad,” he says. Fr Lawlor and I can only nod in agreement.

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