People Need a Short, Sharp Shock: SINEAD O'CONNOR

Watch out: an unrepentant Sinead O'Connor blasts the Catholic church, Bob Dylan and the treatment of women

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A. That I should keep on doing what I'm doing. But it's no good saying that to me. Why doesn't he say it to them? I mean, why doesn't he take his responsibility? So what I learned from that was that they have control of the music business too. Look who gets their records played and who doesn't. Look at who is honored and who isn't.

Q. The Grammy Awards tried to honor you last year, but you refused to appear on the show or accept their award.

A. O.K., shall I tell you why I wouldn't do the Grammys? I wanted to voice my $ objection to the use of the music business as a means of controlling information and of honoring artists for material success rather than artistic expression or the expression of truth, which I consider to be the job of artists.

Q. You seem to court controversy. How about the time when you wouldn't permit the U.S. national anthem to be played at one of your concerts? Some people think you do these things to get attention.

A. At that time in this country, they were stopping black artists from expressing themselves. They were censoring art, and they wanted to play their anthem before an artist went onstage. I wasn't going to make a public thing out of it. They were the ones that went public. But I learned from that. Now, as a human being and as a Christian, I must do whatever I can -- by any means necessary without the use of violence -- to fight for what I believe in.

Q. Frank Sinatra said he wanted to kick you in the butt when you rejected the national anthem, the actor Joe Pesci said he would have slapped you if he had been on the show when you ripped the picture, and a group smashed your records to protest what you had done. Why do you think it upsets people so much when you speak out?

A. The main reason is that I'm a woman. If I were a young man and I was on the TV saying these things, I would not be as brutalized. Secondly, it's because I'm not a safe woman in any way. That's because of the way I look, of course . . . the shaved head. I can't be put in any category, and that freaks people out. People always judge the book by the cover, and they don't listen. But I do believe in God and in what I'm trying to do.

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