Sinéad O’Conner died today at the age of 56.
O’Conner first became famous in 1990 for her cover of Prince’s song Nothing Compares 2 U
But that’s not why she’s remembered.
Two years later in 1992, she became infamous when she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live and said “fight the real enemy.” The intention was to protest the Catholic Church’s abuse of children, but honestly — and I saw it live — the message didn’t really come across. It came off more like a generic act of adolescent rebellion, which I, being very young at the time, approved of.
The backlash, even in “liberal” New York City, was intense. She quickly became a hated laughing stock. Just about the only famous person who really stood up for her was Kris Kristofferson, an actor and a song writer who starred in Michael Cimino’s bomb Heaven’s Gate and wrote the song Me and Bobby Magee for Janis Joplin. Kristofferson consciously acts like a mountain man from the old west, but don’t let that fool you. He was actually a Rhodes Scholar.
I’m not quite as anti-Catholic as I used to be. In fact, ever since the American left turned pro-war during the dirty war in Syria and now fully supports the proxy war in Ukraine, I’ve started thinking of myself as a conservative, or at least as an apolitical moderate. But in 1992, Sinéad O’Conner was right. The Catholic Church was covering up sexual abuse of boys by priests. What’s more, John Paul II was a terrible Pope, one of the most destructive figures of the late 20th Century. He was the “real enemy.”
I’m quite sure, if there’s a God, Sinéad O’Conner is in heaven, and John Paul II is rotting in hell along with his buddies Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Augusto Pinochet.