Sinéad: Stop with the heckling

One-time pop sensation Sinéad O'Connor was back in the news Friday--by taking out a full-page ad pleading for people to stop making fun of her. O'Connor, who shot to international fame in 1990 with her biggest hit, "Nothing Compares 2 U," claimed she had been "consistently ridiculed, lashed, and called mad" for decades, particularly in her native Ireland. "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," she complained during her 2,000-word essay published in the Irish Examiner national newspaper. "If ye all think I am such a crazy person, why do ye use me to sell your papers?" she wrote, adding, "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."

O'Connor, 37, specialized in attention-seeking stunts during her early career, most notoriously in 1992, when she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live and declared, "Fight the real enemy." She also courted hostility from American audiences by refusing to allow the U.S. national anthem to be played at her concerts there. In recent years she's clashed with her own siblings--particularly her brother Joe, an internationally regarded author--about her allegations of an abusive childhood at the hands of her late mother; her siblings insist she's exaggerating. She returned to that theme Friday. "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 that my brothers and sister survived makes me proud of us all," she wrote.

O'Connor, who married in 2001 and has two children, has continued to court headlines with unusual decisions and occasional essays published in local papers. She was ordained a priest in a breakaway Catholic sect in 1999 but subsequently stopped referring to herself as "Mother Bernadette Mary" and said she'd found the celibacy rule impossible to follow. Before her marriage she came out as a lesbian in an American magazine but later said she'd been misquoted yet let the statement stand just to help sell issues. Last year she declared that she was retiring from the music business, that she was interested in a movement called the "Death Midwives" that counsels chronically ill people, and that she planned to train as a religion teacher for elementary school kids.

She resurfaced on Ireland's airwaves Wednesday when she told the national radio network RTE about her campaign to stamp out head lice in children. The spread of head lice is a chronic problem in Irish schools, but some commentators sarcastically noted her pressure group's e-mail address, "nittwit," and poked fun at her appeal for Ireland to stage a "national delousing day." O'Connor said her efforts to help people were unfairly ridiculed. She compared her treatment to that of U2 frontman Bono, whose lobbying of world governments on such issues as AIDS and third world debt has earned him respect and humanitarian awards. "If ye wrote about Bono like you wrote about me, he'd kick your asses," she wrote. (AP, with additional reporting by

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