It’s been at least 10 years since I stopped listening to the Kyle and Jackie O Show. The once-clever, witty and topical program descended into something crass and base and vapid, often failing to reach even the very low bar it has set for itself.
But I concede that someone must be listening, because the program routinely tops the FM Radio ratings, and falls only behind Alan Jones on 2GB.
Last week, those listeners were treated to Kyle Sandilands’ musings on the Incarnation. For those who missed it, Sandilands joked that Our Lady lied, that Jesus was instead conceived “behind the camel shed” and that the story was “full of sh*t.”
He did not just mock Our Lady, but insulted the majority of Australians, Christians and Muslims, who believe in the Virgin Birth.
“You might believe everything that’s written down 2,000 years ago to be absolutely accurate and good on you,” he said. “You’re dumb. That’s all I’m saying. Dumb as dog sh*t.”
Someone on the KIIS FM media team obviously thought it amusing, because a clip of the conversation was put up on the station’s various social media accounts.
The posts quickly received thousands of comments, online and through phone calls to the station. Both Sandilands and the team member were obviously naïve to how much Catholics love the Blessed Mother, and how seriously we take attacks against her!
Sandilands has since issued a non-apology apology, saying: “I’m sorry if I offended anyone with my comments. Everyone is entitled to their own religious beliefs and I’m fully supportive of that right.”
There have been calls for boycotts of the station and of companies who advertise on the program, because in a capitalist society, one way we can express our viewpoint through where we spend our time and our money.
It’s not the best way, obviously, because boycotts don’t guarantee that truth and goodness win. All they guarantee is that those who are the most vocal or who have the most money get their way.
Boycotts don’t convert anyone and could even have the opposite effect because they invite companies to make decisions based on their bottom line, rather than anything else.
They take us down the path of building a society where might equals right, and that can’t be good for anyone.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t boycott the station. Even if Sandilands hadn’t made the comments he did, I still can’t think of a reason why people should listen to him.
I was once told that what we listen to reflects either who we are or who we want to be, and for that reason alone, I suggest changing the station or switching off altogether and being comfortable with a bit of silence.
But a boycott shouldn’t be the main, or even the most important response. That’s why I was so thrilled to see that in addition to condemnation of what Sandilands said, there was an immediate call to prayer.
Because more than anything, what I would love to see happen as a result of this is not to see Sandilands sacked, but converted. An on-air apology – as many have been requesting – would give me much greater joy if it didn’t come as a directive from station management, but out of authentic sorrow borne of an encounter with Christ and His Mother.
Listening to Sandilands’ comments and a number of other clips from the show posted in recent days, I was more sad than angered.
The constant talk of his own sexual experiences and the incessant prying into the sexual activity of others reveals a man who seems to be lacking authentic love, both in giving and receiving.
Sandilands has often told the story of growing up in a household marked with domestic violence and alcoholism, of constantly moving to avoid his abusive father, of being “flogged” by his stepfather, of being kicked out of home at 15 years of age and being turned away from the home of every family member from whom he sought refuge, and spending time on the streets.
Outside the aunt who eventually took him in – someone who he says he thanks God for every day – it seems he hasn’t had anyone really model authentic, unconditional love to him.
Yet. The Blessed Mother who he insulted last week is most definitely the love that Sandilands has been seeking.
And with the promise of so many prayers to Our Lady in reparation for the offence and in petition for Sandilands’ conversion, I would not be surprised at all if she shows up in a powerful way and introduces herself.