Saturday, 14 July 2012

Proud of What? The Shame Season

It is that time of year again, the Pride Season.

Every city & borough must have a Gay Pride March or risk being consigned to the second rate & terminally provincial. In a world of near absolute individual freedom where being gay, far from being a a black mark on one's social copy book is instead a passport to cool, it is hard to see what point or purpose these marches hold.

I have been uninterested in these public displays. A distrust of over-exhibitionist displays made me question why precisely participants needed the marches. A happy Saturday spent with a prince (who, afterwards turned into a particularly noxious frog) at the Dublin Pride at least surrounded the parades with a certain romantic glow.  
No amount of freedom can stop young people struggling with identity, working out who they are & what their path is. What effect on young men, struggling with identity, a parade of gyrating near naked males herded by drag queens has is not measurable. That it is no help and may even may be damaging is fairly obvious, but this will not stop the professional queers.

For the professionally gay, sexuality is the ultimate achievement. Gay is what they are, the entire circumference of their persona. Sexual identity is all. Gay makes them interesting & justifies their lives. That we are more than our sexual identity was the reason for liberation from vicious legal prejudice: now we seek imprisonment within that single dimensional id.

The epitome of that thinking was the appointment as Grand Marshall of the Dublin Pride March a man without any obvious achievement to his name except that he dresses as a women, or rather as a gay man's version of a woman. Drag has always seemed to me to be a cry for help, a public display that exhibits rather than masks the pain beneath, an evidence of personal problems rather than reason to celebrate.

If the march is about pride it must be possible to find a gay person for which there might be reason to be proud, a person who has achieved beyond the ordinary. Peter Thiel is neither Irish nor available but how many of the organisers of these nonsensical parades even know who he is? Unfortunately, for the victim culture steeped professional gays, Miss Panti Bliss is a high achiever: professionally gay to the utter extreme.

I can no longer be uninterested in Pride Marches. These parades are a source of shame, an embarrassment to any gay person who thinks himself, as I do, fully equal. They reek of ghetto, victim culture & rank intellectual laziness. It is time not just to re-evaluate but to stop in the name of real equality.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A Speech too Dangerous

Earlier this year I went to The Fine Gael Ard Fheis to attend the debate about Same Sex Marriage. Incredibly the motion to to prioritise the consideration of allowing same-sex marriage at the forthcoming constitutional convention was not debated: only speakers IN FAVOUR of the motion were allowed contribute by the session chairperson Marcella Corcoran Kennedy.

 I am a secular blasphemist, opposing SSM, my sin made worse by my being a gay man. That day blasphemy was not allowed rear its ugly head!

If being silenced was not galling enough Catherine Byrne TD added insult to injury by praising the motions proposer for his "courage". My response to that piece of outrageous nonsense is below  here but this is the speech I would have given had I not been silenced.

"Chair person,

I am the third generation of my family to campaign for this great party but as the last gay man arrested under the vile 1861 law, a 21 year old entrapped & terrorised by an under-employed member of the Vice Squad, I had to wait over twenty years to shake Alan Shatter’s hand & thank him for his role in preventing a division & frustrating Fine Gael attempts to vote against the 1993 Norris Act.
Now, this time in public at an FG Ard Fheis, thank you Mr Shatter.
My sexuality should be irrelevant in a debate on same sex marriage but we are NOT having a debate and this motion is part of that forbidding, excluding & silencing.
Instead of open discussion we have the equivalent of the fascist thuggery we saw outside this convention centre today, where to express any doubt at our headlong rush to redefine marriage is to become a target for vicious, vile abuse as Lucinda Creighton discovered last year.
If this is such a small change why enforce it with such jack boot tactics? If Same Sex Marriage is such a good idea why can we not all debate it within Fine Gael instead of sending it to this elitist “Constitutional Convention”?
I’m a gay man committing secular blasphemy: I oppose gay marriage & I oppose this motion because it removes the debate from this democratic party.
Yes individuals enter into marriage for various reasons but at the heart of this debate, if we are allowed to have one, are not individual choices but the meaning of the institution of marriage itself.
Marriage is centrally neither about love nor about adults. Marriage is protected & privileged because it is in families that children are born, raised & socialised. The proposal of Same Sex Marriage aims to put adult’s needs & gratification & the heart of marriage & bases marriage on some notion of romantic love. That is bad enough but in order to give Same Sex Marriage the force & power it is claimed it must have, the state necessarily reaches its sinister tentacles into the legal basis of all marriages, all families & all relationships.
In British law there will be neither husbands nor wives & if that piece of marvellous linguistic engineering does not chill consider the fact that to empower Same Sex Marriage Canadian family law has been thoroughly revised to remove that offensive term……… “parent”. Only guardians are permitted, family ties exist purely at the behest & grace of the state.
Guardian for father/mother, partner for wife/husband are not just different words for old identities but an effort to erode & eradicate deep seated symbolic & actual meanings, to profoundly change how we regard ourselves & our family relationships. Terms that mean everything to everyone inevitably mean nothing to anyone. We should demand that campaigners for Same Sex Marriage are honest & upfront about this profound re-definition of marriage & family.
Try as I might I will never get my boyfriend pregnant.
Children are a born of two opposite sex parents. Reducing a man to a sperm donor/sperm inserter & a woman to convenient tank incubator is disrespectful of their humanity, distorts the law & can only be disastrous for society. Yet at its heart that is what Same Sex Marriage will & must do.
It should be neither controversial nor odd to restate the truth that children do best raised in a stable union with a mother & father but sadly in this insane culture-war that truth is a red rag to the fantasy land bulls.
Mothers & fathers men & women, are gendered, those real, basic gender differences matter in the rearing of a child. Can gay people be good parents, off course we can and are. Do heterosexuals sometimes make bad parents? Is Enda Kenny a card carrying Fine Gael member!
That should not change our social & legal preference for children to have a father and mother raise them, as is their birth right. 

Pretending that gender is merely a construct or that outcomes for children are irrelevant may work in a Gender Studies MA thesis but this is the real world with real children & need real Mammies & Daddies. Great claims require great evidence but no one whit of real evidence has been advanced to prove that gender neutral rearing benefits children. A mish-mash of adolescent complaints & appeals to the great God equity do not amount to evidence.

Same Sex Marriage is presented, like many bad ideas, as both progressive & caring.

Pretending that Same Sex Marriage is part of some historical progress is just deluded: history has no narrative, no storyline, just the actions of people. We should rigorously interrogate parties or people that describe themselves as “progressive” on exactly what progress, what narrative, which road. From Marx to Pol Pot narrative pre-ordained history has justified to much misery to be tolerated as an argument.
It is not uncaring to reject damaging ideas, nor is it bigoted to see gender as mattering or to want the best for the nation’s children.
Fianna Fail has voted for same sex marriage. Fianna Fail are in opposition & if there is justice in the world & a smidgen if self-preservation in the electorate they will remain in opposition until they rot.

They know that promissory notes given at their Ard Fheis will never have to be paid, unlike the ones they so liberally disbursed while in government.
We on the other hand are the largest party in government & the ties we bind, bind ministers, bind government, and ultimately bind Ireland. Our promises should not be given lightly & not without thorough debate

I lived through an era of shocking legalised persecution, real discrimination & it makes my blood boil in this free Ireland to have the word discrimination tossed about thoughtlessly with no understanding of its meaning. That real discrimination I faced in the 80s made me learn courage, I’m asking you to have the courage today to reject this motion & let us really debate Same Sex Marriage in this party."

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Fast, Furious & an Un-Scrutinised President

Elections have a pattern. Those patterns are based on the weaknesses of people & their ignorance of the real ability of the elected politician to improve their lives. No candidate or party gets votes by telling voters that their own efforts in a free market will do more for their prosperity than any politician or government fiat. The competition is to promise that government will do more, extend its hand into new areas faster & more convincingly than the alternative candidates.

Facts that government decree cannot decree wealth, free markets protect consumers & sellers with an efficiency that no bureaucracy can match are unspeakable blashphemy. With Government lies wisdom, prosperity & the great modern witch-word, fairness. Democracy has become deliberately ignorant of how it became wealthy, the enemy of its own very prosperity.

Journalists & editors are no wiser than the rest of the electorate & it may be cogently argued,not even be as wise. Group think & selection are more rigorous in media outlets than machine shops if only because machine operators only have to show dexterity with tools, not the received ideas & tropes of the age. Few come to journalism un-tainted by a university education & it is in the universities that the failure of free market advocates is the most pernicious. The left offer compassion, action & a framework for analysing the world, free market capitalists merely freedom & individual responsibility both for oneself & ones relations with others.

That desire for that wise governmental benevolence  saw it's zenith in the 2008 US Presidential election. The previous incumbent,George Bush, inarticulate at the best of times, looked overwhelmed by economic disaster & as a prisoner of his neo-con conversion post 9/11, embroiled in a sequence of bloody, protracted, un-winnable wars. Although Bush was not the Republican candidate, it was next to impossible for John McCain, a decent man with a heroic Vietnam war record, to escape the administration's shadow or mistakes.

Barrack Obama caught the public imagination not just in the US but internationally. Young, articulate but most importantly, black he was the embodiment of promise. And did he promise! Not alone would he symbolise a new post-racial America but he would put government at the service of every citizen. The campaign slogan Hope & Change allowed every voter their own wish in this modern electoral paradigm of unlimited government.

The fourth estate played their part by giving the relatively unknown first term senator an examination of of cotton wool reverence. Obama was taken at his own unquestioned word.   The real news-story that now emerges from the lies & deceit of his auto-hagiography "Dream from My Father" is not the his ridiculous portrayal of himself as the persecuted scion of a brave & persecuted line but the complete failure of journalists to examine his claims & career. If the Birthers are crazy their madness has a root in the frustration at how little documented facts either existed or tallied with Obama's own story. He arrived in the Oval office the least scrutinised president  in a century: Harvard Law Review Editor who had forfeited his bar license, radical on social issues & maybe even on socialism,much of his past mysterious.

Obama came to power saddled with the hopes he had engendered & the promises he had made. Nothing short of a divinity could have lived up to those expectations but the Obama that came to power was a creature of both his own & his supporters imaginations. The reality, a man saddled with beliefs he never had to rigorously defend & with no experience of executive office, could but disappoint.

All of this serves as a prelude to the scandal that is shaping the dying days of his (first? only?) administration. 

Eric Holder, Obama's AG, had a record of involvement in questionable decisions both as Deputy AG under Clinton (pardon of the Boricua Popular Army & Marc Rich) and as AG (dropping voter intimidation law suits) but none compared with Gun Walking.

AFT had used the tactic of "gun walking", allowing guns to be purchased for export to Mexico to identify both the straw purchasers & the criminal purchasers in several cities under various code names in order to catch higher level criminals.. The supposed strict policy of the AFT as understood by agents was that guns would never reach Mexico, law enforcement officials would interdict any weapons in the programme before they left US jurisdiction. At least twice, in 2006 and on a smaller scale in 2007, this policy failed miserably with Guns reaching Mexican criminals & no high level gang members caught.

Operation Fast and Furious,begun in late 2009 was both bigger & had the strange policy change of not interdicting guns. As the operation progressed AFT agents became more & more concerned that huge amounts of guns were reaching dangerous Mexican drug gangs. So called straw buyers continued to purchase guns (from legal gun dealers co-operating with the AFT) for over a year while agents of the bureau were not allowed intercept those guns.

So bizarre was the policy that in an effort to explain or make some sense of it some have latched on to Holder's previous Gun Control sympathies & speculate that he was trying to provoke an a backlash to gun s & gun ownership.

This insane policy came to an end after the murder in December 2010 of a US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Although the bullet that killed Terry could not be forensically linked to a particular gun, two Fast ans Furious guns were found abandoned near the shooting. Mexican drug criminals abandon any gun used in a killing.

AFT agents no longer were prepared to stay silent, informing not just a senator but leaking information into the blogosphere.

Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been investigating Gun Walking and pursuing Holder. The fact that much heavier, military grade weapons which were almost impossible to purchase from the co-operating legal gun dealers surfaced in Mexico in caches of Fast and Furious weapons meant that Fast and Furious had deeper roots & more greater scope than the stated AFT operation.

Obama's March 23 2011 TV appearance denying that either Holder or himself authorised Fast & Furious is widely available on the internet. In May that year Holder testified under oath that he did not know who authorised it.

Last week the clash between Issa's investigation & Holder's determination not to divulge about the operation his department of Justice had run reached a crisis. With over seven thousand pages of documentation turned over, Issa held to his demands for another  known one thousand three hundred pages on the threat of holding the AG in contempt. In response the President placed an Executive Immunity order on the unseen documentation relating to Fast and Furious.

Holder went from denying all knowledge of the operation to sheltering the Fast and Furious from oversight under Executive Privilege. Next week Congress will vote on whether to hold him in contempt.

Up to now the over one thousand guns out standing in criminal hands, even the presence of military grade weapons from the operation, were at worst, a bad mistake by the AFT & US Attorneys. Everyone is dispensable & even Holder could have been thrown under the bus. Now Holder is merely a surrogate for Obama himself who has linked himself to Fast and Furious if only in the cover-up.

The President who came to power with such hope & goodwill faces into an election hiding the details of an insane, deliberate policy of arming Mexican Drug Cartels. Over two hundred men, women & children  in Mexico with and US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry were murdered as a direct result of a policy which may have been a criminal conspiracy. 

The cover up, the arrogant belief in his own righteousness all part of the Obama pattern. This time, the veneer worn thin & citizen journalists parsing every piece of information, Obama will not escape scrutiny.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The FCT & The Magnificent Wrongness of Ross

There are few figures in public life in Ireland who have been as wrong or whose wrongness have done as much harm as Deputy Shane Ross.

As the leading cheerleader of Anglo Irish Bank & its disastrous business model Ross piled pressure on the other Irish banks to imitate Sean Fitzpatrick's insane asset inflation banking. Waving Anglo poms-poms in the Sunday Independent & on his own website, Ross demanded that Sean Fitzpatrick, the banker that broke Ireland, be put on the Board of other large banks. In the perfect proof that democracy allows us to make our own mistakes, Ross was elected to Dáil Eireann on the day that other less culpable figures were swept away by the tide of public revulsion. That Deputy Ross achieved election by ten months preaching loudly against those whose praises he sang for ten years seems to have caused this reed in the wind no shame.

Other men, having been so wrong & done so much harm to their country, would have retired from public commentary to the modern equivalent of a monastery, a quiet village in rural County Offaly. Instead, braying his orotund vowels, Deputy Ross has returned to the fray, neither chastened by public outrage nor having learned an iota from his mistakes. His monumental self regard protects him from the slightest trace of embarrassment.

Deputy Ross has now seized on a fiction of his own creation &, like his earlier pom-pom waving for Seany Fitz, intends to convince as many as possible to be wrong with him.

Taking the electioneering of Françoise Hollande seriously & using some of the topsy-turvy arguments of his Technical Group colleagues, Richard Boyd-Barrret & Joe Higgins, Deputy Ross has concluded that the the Fiscal Compact Treaty on which we are voting (and which you can read Here) merely represents one half of a treaty. The other half, according to Deputy Ross, is some putative Growth Pact.

To argue that that the FCT can be changed in any way AFTER we vote to ratify it (should we do so) is to ignore the position the treaty would have in the Irish Constitution, European Law & also the realities of politics in Europe.

Once we ratify the a treaty then that is the treaty we ratify. We have referenda on treaties because the Government may not share power or sovereignty without consulting us: that process would be worse than nonsensical if we were to be consulted on A which could subsequently be changed to B. Change means re-ratification of a new treaty, a complete re-negotiation.

The reality of European politics means that, leaving aside the legal impossibility of re-writing a ratified treaty, that the FCT is a closed book. Nothing will persuade European Governments,especially Germany, that this is a process to be abandoned for a complete restart.

Nothing that the FCT can do could be a worse the blow to confidence in this country & its debt that rejection would achieve. Far too many who now argue against ratification, from the libertarians to the Marxists, are on a house burning mission with the hope of building their utopia in the ashes. To many are not so much opposed to the treaty as the current order & their arguments are meant to believed by others, not themselves.

Given his track record of  failure on the one area he in which he professes competence Deputy Ross may believe the untruth he is peddling  & he is at least altruistic in his desire, as always, to share his muddle headed ideas as widely as possible. That is the best I can say of him, a fool's pardon instead of a knave's crown.

Friday, 4 May 2012

A Cardinal Disgrace, Brady MUST Go

"There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity...You can smell it. It smells like death." 
Tennessee Williams

The stink of mendacity has hung around the Irish Catholic Church for far too long. Two generations of gilded clowns have by their vicious refusal to consider child rape a crime condemned thousands of children to abuse, disgraced the church & thrown any moral authority the church had to the wind. 

Cardinal Sean Brady has worked all his life for the preferment he now endures rather than enjoys. He is a Cardinal but merely a cardinal example of moral blindness, cardinal disgrace, cardinal example of a man damaging the office he holds by holding it. Brady makes a mockery of the title he has worked all his life to achieve.

The facts are simple. Sean Brady KNEW Brendan Smyth was a child rapist. Instead of exposing him, of even insisting his Bishop take action Brady used the enormous might and weight of the Church to force two victims to swear secrecy about their own rape. Not once did it occur to this well schooled Canon Lawyer that his knowledge of the foulest of crimes was reason to go to the Gardai. That might stand in the way of his advancement, could even mean a a relegation to a poor & backward parish. 

In other jurisdictions this  itself would be a crime, witness tampering. Morally nothing can justify this action, not the time, not the prevailing custom, not the canon Law in which he is so expert. Brady swore those children to secrecy for the sake of his own career. The children endured a burden of imposed, cruel silence to go with their horrendous abuse & because of the cover up  the monstrous Smyth was free to rape again and again and again. That Brady did that, allowed that evil for his own miserable ambition, is beyond shameful.

Now we know that another victim of Smyth, in an act of far sighted courage & humanity, gave the then Fr Sean Brady the names of children he knew to be at risk from the monster. Brady claims he gave the information to his Bishop & the fault of inaction lies with him.

Only a moral pygmy could claim that merely passing on the information to the Bishop sufficed as action. Brady had a clear duty to make sure the information so painfully & courageously entrusted to him was used to protect the children. No career, no reputation, no moral equivalence can be weighed against the suffering of children.

Cardinal Sean Brady is a coward, a man who balanced the rape of children against his own ambitions, a disgrace to the Church & to every Catholic. If he does not resign he must be forced out, not by politicians who have no moral standing on the issue of child protection, but by ordinary Catholics.

The politicians who are now bleating for Cardinal Brady's resignation should be reminded that their record on child protection is every bit as bad as the Cardinal's. Where are the two hundred or more unaccompanied minor asylum seekers who have disappeared? What of the children in State( and I use the word in the absence of any term that conveys the neglect & disregard with which these unfortunate children are treated) care?  

Cardinal Sean Brady must be reminded by ordinary Catholics that vox populi, vox dei. If that means shying rocks at his red hat then we must shy those rocks. Brady oportet!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Abortion Icons, Tweet Crime & Herding

Last night I committed tweet crime, became briefly a bête noir for a small chattering class & went to bed happy.

There are few reasons to watch anything on RTE, the home grown output is invariable appalling, the journalism unreliable & the imported dramas widely available elsewhere. There is even less reason to watch RTE's Late Late Show where the near talent-free Ryan Tubridy seems engaged in an a futile exercise to re-capture the show's glory days under the young Gay Byrne.

This is not 1970 & Tubridy is is trapped both by his inability to see beyond the groupthink of Socially Acceptable Ideas & the fact that other media have the issues well aired long before he gets to them. In Tubridy's case it appears that very airing is necessary for him to soak up what he should talk about from the Irish Times & a small group of its Dublin readers. He is a poor purveyor of second hand liberal consensus.

Last night the show featured an extended interview with three women who during the week had been touted on the front page by the Irish Times for talking about their abortions. It is important to note that lots of women in Ireland have talked about their abortions in the last year but did not make the front page of the Irish Times because they were not talking the way the Irish Times editors wanted them to talk about abortion. Those women & their stories can be found here

The women the paper (& Tubridy by that second hand osmotic process that makes him such a whimpering bore) featured believed their abortions were a positive move & that Irish State was much remiss in not providing for abortion here. The reasons for the abortions were that in all three cases the women had been given the horrible news after a scan that the babies they carried suffered terrible deformities.

In all cases this meant the child, even if carried to term would die soon after birth.

There was an absolute acceptance of the false claim that such deaths would be agonising for the child: it was a if modern medicine was devoid of effective analgesia. Not once, given the women's stated desire to avoid a painful death for their children was there reference to the real horror of death by burning saline or by surgical dismemberment. Abortion was presumed to be be painless but natural death in a modern hospital surrounded by caring professionals with the best modern medicine could offer, presumed to be an agony.

One of the women, who wept during the interview had her labour induced at thirty weeks. No question was asked as to the alternative to what must have been a nasty ordeal.

The near meaningless phrase "incompatable with life" was used over and over again as a mantra of justification. That any human will die is a poor excuse to hasten their end let alone inflict on them the death babies suffer under saline or D & C.

Tubridy had no intention of  questioning the women on the issues, their word was taken as truth even when,as in the case of the allegations that babies would be left to die in agony, they were patently peddling porkies. There were other areas where the truth was at least bent to fit the narrative of children living lives not fit to be lived. The accuracy of the claim that child suffering from trisomy 13 could only live five minutes, a dubious statement however short the brief lives of children born with that condition that kills 80% in the first year (Trisomy 13 information)  or that more fundamentally that brevity of life was a argument for abortion, was ignored entirely. This was, behind all the emotion, a piece of unashamedly campaigning television. Tubridy no more wanted to come to the truth than he wanted some woman in the audience to interrupt the propaganda with a story of regretting her abortion.

Only a stone hearted sociopath would be unable to sympathise with with a couple told that their child is too deformed to live, that the end result of the pregnancy will be a tiny child whose very minutes are numbered. If told that this information means the couple have decided to have the child killed (the real meaning of pregnancy termination) no matter what our beliefs we could still sympathise for their pain loss & suffering & the extremity that drove them to such action. When the experience is used to to justify baby killing on a wider scale & the story is accompanied by lies about babies dying in agony after birth that sympathy is much harder to maintain & we need to put our sympathy where it really belongs, with those who are & will be killed. 

There was no medical reason for the women interviewed to have abortions: there are never medical reasons for abortion. The children they clearly loved did not need or benefit from the killings & would have had better, kinder deaths born in an Irish Hospital. Elevating the women involved to the status of secular saints, pretending that they have been wronged by a state that will not legalise abortion is an effort to make abortion as Socially Acceptable Idea. Having lost every argument, with the tide of public opinion  turning in strongholds like Britain, abortion advocates have hit on the tactic of not arguing but creating icons.

Little psychological insight is needed to see why why the women involved in last nights interview seek to justify their decision & to normalise abortion by seeking to change the law. By doing so they have entered the political arena & no tears or sentimentality can or should protect them from questioning. They are not icons but campaigners.

In the promotion of Socially Acceptable Ideas the social media are essential. There is a tendency to regard Twitter as the real world or even a subset of real opinion when it is neither of those It is, on many issues, merely a reinforcing tool of groupthink divided into armed, hostile camps. SAI proponents must police its tiny landmass in the hope of occupying the wider reality later.

Last night Twitter lit up with pro-choice advocates praising the women's courage, describing them as heroines & warning that the could not, must not be judged. There only proper response to such outrageous censorious propaganda is outrage: tweet crime. I tweeted that the women were murderesses, not heroines. It was neither polite nor  politic nor was it intended to be.

The policing action leaped in to action with commendable speed & thoroughness. Much of the tweets in reply were merely childish obscenities strung together, vulgar abuse, name calling,  & recommendations about my mothers pregnancy. None of it was original or interesting but I re-tweeted the more startlingly extreme pieces. Almost all of such abuse from the self styled policers of ideas follows a simple pattern of faux out rage masquerading as concern, the stock-in-trade of the left's politicians. The pattern of name calling, even the names called have an invariable sameness. Bigot is always a starter followed by the de rigeur charges of utter stupidity but as the faux outrage works it self-up streams of obscenity are used. This abuse is intended to distress, it is a slap on the face so that we remember not to cross the boundaries set by the Thought Police again. In my case it is wholly useless, even counter-productive as a policing action.

In Gene Wolfe's "Citadel of The Autarch" Severian of the Guild of Torturers is given a graphic account of the horrors in store for him by his enemy, Agia. His reaction to her threats is one of honest boredom, he had spent most of his life assisting at tortures much worse. He advises her to get professional torturing assistance. I went to St Kieran's College when it was less an educational establishment than a poorly run borstal. I've been bullied by professional bullies with an intensity & application that left me immune to such terror tactics. That personal immunity was hard won in the prefabs of 3A but few were privileged with that particular rite of passage.

The tactic of mass insult, may be seen as a kind of digital biological reaction with some tweeters, unable because of their position on a moral high ground to participate directly, re-tweeting the offending text to their followers to increase the the hive activity.The tide of abuse, triggered as if by pheromones, is magnificently effective as a censoring device since few can come unshaken from a page of insults designed to hurt.

In the past two days I have seen a a wonderful, deeply thoughtful, intellectual gay friend reduced to self doubt by a bout of such vile abuse that included the stupidity & Nazi charge from an academic economist (in this particular economists case it is academic whether he is an economist given the level of inaccuracy he has shown on the subject) for my friend's uttering of secular blasphemy by opposing Same Sex Marriage. On the same subject of SSM an intelligent, gentle Catholic blogger friend almost gave up using the 'net after threats of a disturbingly sexual nature involving cement left her paralysed by disgust & fear.

The social media are thus used to herd thought & its expression into forms acceptable to the hive. That is why very poor & even vicious ideas now go unchallenged. Without the rite of passage of St Kieran's 3A too many flinch, doubt themselves, or give up. Many more internalise the bullying & become effective self censorers.

We have a choice whether we are now tame lemmings being herded over a cliff by ignorant activists or a people concerned about our lives & our country. The cost of even making some arguments may be a bath in vileness we would rather not experience but the cost of losing the culture war is death.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

An open letter to Catherine Byrne TD

Dear Catherine,

At the Fine Gael Ard Fheis, when the motion on Same Sex Marriage was not debated as those of us who wished to speak against the motion were studiously excluded, you congratulated the young man who spoke for the motion on his courage. Leaving aside my disagreement with a debate that refuses an opposition or the manifest unfairness of a platform that congratulates one gay man on his courage while refusing another the right to speak, I resort to this vehicle of an open letter for a more immediate reason.

As an openly gay Fine Gael activist this congratulations gave me cause for concern, even for worry. What are the dangers, for surely there is no courage in safety, that exist for being openly gay in Fine Gael?

I have confidently been a branch & constituency officer, a campaign manager at all electoral levels (bar the Presidency) & a County Director of elections and have clearly been lulled into a false and perilous sense of my own security. My exposure to Fine Gael has been as widespread as it has been trusting. Now I am horrified at the risks I have run & haunted by the fear of peril.

I badly need to know where these dangers lie so that I may avoid them. Is it solely at Ard Fheiseanna that I risk death & disablement at the hands of a group of militant middle aged homophobes with membership cards? Are some constituencies worse or better than others? I appear to have been particularly blessed with Carlow Kilkenny but maybe Fine Gael gatherings of Dublin South Central teem with skin-headed yobs carrying baseball bats marked "This Bat Kills Queers"?

This worry for my personal safety will naturally impinge on my ability to organise & canvass for the party, after all one cannot give one's best if momentarily expecting to be battered by some recidivist County Councillor and his cronies in the name of God, Eoin O Duffy & the dead generations.

This worry goes beyond the personal selfishness of liking my features in their current un-baseball battted alignment. I am not alone in being openly gay in Fine Gael though for obvious safety reasons as you can well understand, I cannot name names in the climate of fear engendered by your congratulations.

I can only beg you to allay my worries, help all of us stay safe & out of the clutches the stoners & bashers by having the courage to publicly delineate the areas of danger. If this involves naming & shaming some violent homophobes remember that the party is better off without them.

Yours Most Sincerely,
Paddy Manning

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