Thursday, 13 March 2014

A Campaign Without Merit

A vicious campaign of intimidation, bullying and blackmail is being conducted to force Irish voters to re-define marriage. A twin-track approach of horrendous missapropriation of the sufferings of others and a vile attempt to portray ordinary Irish people as “homophobic” is being used to rush us into a massive change in family law.

“Homophobia” has become the issue of the day, with every bleeding heart nincompoop journalist wringing hands over the dreadful suffering inflicted on Irish gays. In the rush to find martyrs to this particular cause, facts and norms of journalism are the first casualties but as a sideline, young gay people are being told the lie that they face a lifetime of victimisation. worse this is being done to young vulnerable people by people claiming to help them. Go figure. 

Recently, on a drive time radio show with one of the countries most senior journalists, a young lady told a tale of horrible and casual brutality encountered when she held hands with her girlfriend on a night time street. She spoke of escaping across the street and apealing to “ a stocky, muscular Irish man” for help. She indicated that she knew he was Irish because she saw him in the pub earlier. That was the clue on which any competent journalist would have picked. This was an ugly tale of savagery but it was not one that happened in Ireland. I asked the young woman during the ad break and yes, this was a tale of London night life. The presenter continued to ask what had the Gardai response been in a display of both incompetence and campaigning radio, ignoring the internal clues in the story rush to find Irish “homophobia”. 

In the face of a campaign divorced from facts and reality and driven by the need of the chattering class to appear cool, modern and compassionate, it is worth reiterating some of the incotrovertable case for gendered marriage. Arguing for gendered, traditional marriage is neither “homophobic” nor a judgement on the realtionships of gay people.

Marriage is a unique, evolved purposeful institution for the creation, rearing and socialisation of children. In any consideration of change to marriage the outcomes for children must be the essential guide. Nowhere are those outcomes for children as good as for those within a married, biological family with male and female parents. That is why the defence of marriage as it is currently understood matters.
Children are not just the product of a gendered biology; children need both genders as parents. Enshrining anything else in family law on the grounds that there exists less than perfect situations is to give legal strength & encouragement to the arrangements which produce worse outcomes for children. Of course in the mad world of the chattering class, to point out that children do best with married, gendered parents is a truth upalatable and unspeakable.

Biology has meant that for all of human history parents were of both genders. That essential gender difference is vital in the rearing & socialisation of children. Married families provide irreplaceable bedrock of stability & cohesion for all families, society and the state itself. Children need & are entitled to a father & mother. Nothing comes before a child's right to that essential human construct.
The central purpose of SSM is to pretend that not alone do children not need gendered parents but that their opposite gender parent should be legally written out of their lives. We either acknowledge and celebrate who we are, or do as the Same Sex Marriage proponents would have us do: reducing a man to a sperm donor/sperm inserter & a woman to convenient tank incubator in our central family law. This this reductionist notion of human sexuality is disrespectful of our humanity, distorts law & can only be disastrous for society. 

Same Sex Marriage puts at the heart of family law an implicit endorsement of that form of prostitution that is surrogacy. Wombs-for-rent are in the main a third world phenomenon as the desperate use the only marketable item they have to achieve some kind of gain. If prostitution is an evil then surely trans-national prostitution aimed at some of the world’s poorest women is questionable? It is not a trade to place at the centre of the meaning of family law. Alan Shatter, the man who makes Sean Doherty look good as Minister For Justice, is bringing forward a bill which would have the state recognise the fictions rich lesbians and surrogate parents want to create: that they alone are the parents, with two women or two men listed as the childs parents. This utter nonsense will be whipped and supported by the supine, moral cowards of the Fine Gael Parliamentary party.

In any consideration of marriage we need to be careful to be guided by reason and not emotion. Marriage does not exist to cater either to adult’s romantic whims or to endorse their relationships, provide them with a theatre for romantic gesture or a platform for gesture politics. Marriage is not a wedding! The purpose of marriage is different from individual conceptions or reasons for marriage so too is it separate from the accidental. Spouse's die or are unfaithful, what was intended as a long term or even lifetime contract is abandoned, maybe even on whim. These are individual failings, not purposeful nature or function of the institution.

Marriage law does not discriminate: only a very twisted version of victim politics can advance an argument that an institution with a natural biological basis discriminates. It is just as sensible to claim that biology itself is discriminatory and must be reformed. The push for Same Sex Marriage assumes that marriage is a re-definable institution. Since marriage is a universal constant of human society, evolving independently in virtually every culture we would expect that Same Sex Marriage to have occurred. The failure of SSM to evolve spontaneously in ANY culture suggests that it is either destructive or at best damaging. Next time some campaigner uses the term “marriage equality”, remind them it already exists: any single woman can marry any single man.

There already exists a legal arrangement for same sex couples: Civil Unions. One of the unfortunate consequences of the proposed change to the definition of marriage would be to diminish the status of Civil Partnership.

Civil Partnership has the capacity to evolve organically into an institution paralleling heterosexual marriage in social status and law but with a specific and particular gay identity of its own. It would be very sad to cut off that evolution as it is just beginning, and beginning so well. Many proponents of same sex marriage treat the issue as so obvious, indeed self evident, that to oppose it is prima facie evidence of homophobic bigotry or a pathological act of treachery.

It is worth noticing in this climate that not so long ago the consensus  especially activists and queer thinkers, was that Marriage was a self evidently heterosexual institution. While it was clear that a modality for the legal recognition of the reality of many committed loving gay relationships was direly needed it was thought clear that a different and distinctly gay structure would need to be innovated which would match the needs of gay relationships. Many saw marriage as not only not suitable to meet this need but actually inimical to the newly evolving gay family. Civil Partnership can be that innovative structure if we allow it

Introducing SSM inevitably leads to a cascade of legal changes to give it effect, fundamentally altering family law and the relationship between the state and the family. To give effect to SSM all these changes transfer power from the family to the state, as basic biological relationships on which current law stands must be ignored and bypassed. All children must be viewed in law as strangers to their parents who will be given status in the child’s life by the state. This is a massive, fundamental, and very dangerous change in the natural rights of the family.

If children, their genesis, rearing & socialising are not at the centre of the socio-legal meaning of marriage then the State has no reason to forbid marriage to any two people. Since the progeny outcome is irrelevant restrictions on incestuous or any other union not now regarded as licit, are merely based on personal disgust, not rational grounds. Such grounds could not be used as a continuing basis for regulation. There are good economic reasons why polygamy should be abandoned in less devoloped countries but none of these apply to polyamorous relationships in rich, developed societies.

It is impossible to have real guarantees that churches or religious institutions will not be forced to celebrate SSM at the point of the law. Equality based legislation must inevitably create a huge risk, indeed a near certainty that religious freedom will be infringed as court actions are taken to expand the foothold. Many Same Sex Activists are clear that for churches or other institutions to refuse to cooperate with or allow Same Sex Marriage will be “discrimination”: an ominous word given that even private individuals are subject to lawsuit in many jurisdictions for minor refusals to cooperate with Same Sex Marriage ceremonies and a Dublin cake shop was subjected to an orchestrated campaign of internet villification and bullying for refusing to campaign for “marriage equality” with its window display.




Saturday, 25 January 2014

Free Speech not Government Watchdogs

I grew up in an Ireland where to be scared into silence was normal, I learned courage and that we are better off free. On Tuesday the Irish Times published an extraordinary attack on the idea of free speech by Una Mullally, which would have been frightening if it were not so outlandish. Too much depends on the recent and fragile right to free exchange and challenge of ideas to allow even an outlandish attack go unanswered, especially when that attack is published in a national newspaper however ridiculous its pretence to being the paper of record.

If free speech does not include the right to offend then it is not free. No one in a free society has the right NOT to be offended. Censoring for offence is a charter for bullies not a protection for the powerless.

In her article Mullally pontificated that there is a “need for an independent homophobia watchdog to monitor the inevitable destructive rhetoric that will colour one side of the debate”. This was nothing more than a call for state repression disguised as a rant about “homophobia”. No right is absolute but the balancing of the various, rights of citizens is the task of the judiciary, not, for very good reason, any Government body.  Mullally wants a government board to silence anybody who disagrees with her and she wants us to believe it is for our own good we are gagged.

Mullally’s dubiously constitutional Bord Fhocail Cairdiúil Homaighnéasach (An BFCH?) would be an Orwellian Ministry of Truth for 2014 but how could such a good idea not be repeated, endlessly?  Bord Fhocail Cairduil Rialtais anyone? Would Mullaly’s watchdog(s) send representative marshals to Radio discussions or TV panels to patrol debate for unspeak? Would it operate by fines, yellow and red cards or by imprisoning offenders? How would it handle the internet, a notorious wilderness of freedom?  So much to decide, so little time!

Yes I have skin in this fight but you don’t and should not need to have to find this attack worrying. You don’t have to be, like me, gay man who has been exposed to the full on “destructive rhetoric” of Same Sex Marriage proponents, including death threats, for my secular mortal sin of disagreeing with their attempts to redefine marriage, to find Mullaly’s article disturbing.

“Homophobia” has become, like beauty and gastronomic value of marmite, largely in the taste of the viewer because the word is not, as it appears, a clinical term but a campaigning one invented by George Weinberg in the 1960s. Anything that can include Vladimir Putin’s deliberate politicking, vicious African persecution of gay people and debating Same Sex Marriage, as Mullally conflatingly tries to make it do in her article, is too broad to have meaning. The term, “homophobia” is a much debased currency.

Mullally’s definition of homophobia is itself weaponised nonsense. “Teachings of the Catholic Church on homosexuality are homophobic” she writes in what is in effect a definitional attack on Christianity, Catholics, and most especially, gay Catholics. By setting her definition so low, Mullaly is engaged in a childish exercise in demonization: anything said in opposition to SSM is “homophobia”. The article is deliberate attempt to lay ground rules so tilted that a debate she insists settled becomes non-existent. This would be a dreadful precedent for the conduct of any public issue debate.

We might well ask what argument Mullally and her proposed Bord Fhocail Cairdiúil Homaighnéasach would permit? An BFCH might provide a list once it is in operation but it is clear from the vacuous article that comparative outcomes for children from varied family structures are intended to be off the table and the airwaves. “Depictions of LGBT people in the media that in any way infer that their relationships or parenting skills are inferior to those of heterosexuals should be condemned”  (my italics) is a clear message that quoting the statistical evidence that Same Sex parenting may not be great for children will be verboten. Mere inference taken will be enough.

"Everyone is scared of being labelled a racist" opines Mullally as she claws desperately to create charge, not realising there is a difference between being herded by the primary school playground's bullyettes and really believing in the inferiority of others. For Mullally it is about creating a climate of fear using labels, never about the reality the labels purport to represent.

 She complains that solicitor’s letters were sent for what she claims was “brief discussion on the nuances of subtle homophobia” on the Brendan O’Connor Show. There was nothing subtle about attack on people involved with The Iona Institute but by characterising it in that manner, Mullally  is being deliberately economical with the truth.  She wants her An BFCH, but not laws on defamation: classes will be sacred but individuals will have no protection or rights in her Brave New World. Marx and Marcuse would be proud.

Claiming that my arguing the case against Same Sex Marriage will “inflict psychological trauma” on gay people, as Mullally does, is to demean us by giving us Special Victim Status.  If people like Mullally cannot think of better arguments they have little chance of persuading an Irish electorate that has shown a remarkable ability to inform itself during referendum campaigns.

Free speech is central to that ability to inform. Thought police are no help to debate or informing ourselves no matter what colour their uniforms. Gays may not always be cool or on top of the victim heap. When we are not, we would be better served by real freedom than by a corrupt system of offence censorship monitored by Mullally’s “independent watchdog(s)”.

At the end, in a piece of pompous predestinationism, she warns “opponents of full equality for LGBT citizens”, whoever they are, to prepare for “defeat, with dignity” on Same Sex Marriage. I don’t know Ms Mullally nor what the outcome of this debate will be and I don’t care how undignified her hissy fit if the referendum loses; I care a lot that we debate this and any issue openly, honestly and freely.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Reform, deform and votes

Every change is not reform but the term is used as a catchall, a sloganised sales pitch for whatever the user wants. Very many of the changes proposed to Irelands electoral system are deforms to a system that has, and is serving the country well. This is not to say we are a utopia: that impossible state is the poisonous carrot for self destructive donkeys. 


Proportional Representation Single Transferable Vote system has served Ireland well by any metric. Despite the disaster of the bankruptcy of the entire banking system at the end of the 1999-2007 credit bubble and the consequent budgetary difficulties Ireland remains one of the world’s richest (13th http://www.gfmag.com/component/content/article/119-economic-data/12529-the-worlds-richest-and-poorest-countries.html#axzz2rEqiZs9d) and freest countries (9th http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking) . A number of other metrics could be used to show the relative success of the Irish system including the numbers who vote (indicating political engagement) but the only people who believe that changing how we select our representatives want to gain power from the change.

Much more influential on of parliamentary politics is the multi seat rather than single seat constituencies that pertain elsewhere. Behaviour of public representatives is constrained by the presence of party rivals in their own backyard. 

The criticism  that this leaves TDs much too concerned about local and unconcerned about national outcomes, illustrated by a handful of examples of TDs voting against some issue on a local basis. Aside from single examples that illustrate that this occurs, it is difficult to find where this maters to the outcome. The other criticism is that TDs engage in constituency work to the detriment of their national legislative role. There is no evidence that Ireland lacks law and with a tenuous and anaemic system of local government their work has value. Occupying the time of politicians with work of value to their constituents is likely to be far more useful than having idle legislators finding ways of expanding the role of government and the state.

Irish voters enjoy an unparalleled access and closeness to their national parliamentary representatives. This access and the multi seat constituencies means governments are much less likely to push policies far from those espoused by the electorate or likely to be rejected with ferocity by it. This kind of stability is very valuable, particualrly in times of crisis.

Alternative systems that produce clearer majorities other than the barbaric single-member plurality system requires either a seat top or a list system. Any such system takes power from the voters and put it into the hands of anonymous and unexamined party hacks. This is, understandably, much admired idea by those who believe they know better than the people precisely who should be in power. On that system this government would have been decided by Phil Hogan and Ivana Bacik. There may even be voters who are NOT horrified by such a prospect...

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Don't dare disagree.

If you are losing a debate you thought you had won what do you do?

We know now what the proponents of Same Sex Marriage do when faced with the awful truth that you need more than a cheap slogan and three insults to win an argument: turn to fascism and shut down the debate on the grounds that anyone speaking against your proposition is responsible for your personal misery and crimes committed against gay people. You scream "homophobia" loud and long. This is an attempt to restrict debate, an attack on free speech as insidious and nasty as any coercive censorship.

As a gay man I have come to loathe the smug, self appointed representatives of gaydom, the activists that claim to speak for me while viciously trying to shut me up. One had the stupidity to tell me on live radio that he "represented gay people" and it is possible that he believed he did. Others have applied all the strength of their fourth-hand, fifth-rate amateur psychology to declare me a self-loathing, damage-internalising, Stockholm syndrome-suffering, homophobic, mentally ill Judas with a desire for cheap publicity. Still others have expressed a simple, and to them, rational desire to kill me.

I have gotten off lightly.

The small group of people who make up the Iona Institute are seen as the biggest threat to the activist designed paradise and it is for them that the most vicious attacks have been reserved. Delenda est David Quinn and the weapon is the crime of "homophobia". The allegations are horrible. Quinn does not oppose redefinition of marriage and the diminution of children's rights from a logical viewpoint, he has a pathological fear of gay people. Worse, his very arguments hurt gay people and directly encourages brutal physical attacks on them. David Quinn is a monster. Nothing to see here folks, just some scared beasts lashing out.

It is a simple, satisfying and ancient tactic. Vilify and demonize your opposition, create a monsterous and iconic Aunt Sally, then you need not ask who would listen to such a person. It is the tactic of the bully and the coward, of those who do not have a credible, useful case to make. The defamation has a purpose. If you can't play the ball, play the man. With no winning argument the gaystabo are reduced to villification. It is also a tactic that cannot work in a law abiding society where a persons reputation and persona has even vestigial legal protection.

In a free society every citizen is entitled to their opinions and everyone to their reputation. The ridiculous pretence that it is homophobic to resist the redefining of marriage as a near meaningless companionship agreement only makes sense to a dwindling group of extremists. The self appointed leaders of the gay victimhood cult have no right to silence others nor no legal standing to destroy the reputations of dissenters.  There are hard facts that they will have to face. Repeating a slur does not make it true nor does belief make truth of a lie. In a republic, a drag queen, however inflated his sense of his own importance, has no higher legal rights than any ordinary citizen. It is courts that decide what is damaging and libelous, not a handful of ill informed social media denizens.

The routine use of the charge of homophobia to bully dissenters is not just poor public discourse, it cheapens the charge to irrelevancy. The left's use of demonizing phobia charges is explored in a wonderful blog piece, Liberal Intifada, but either homophobia means something nasty or it means nothing at all. When Brendan O Connor's guest denounced John Waters, Breda OBrien and others at Iona as homophobic, either it was a serious attack or the rant of a fool. The damage done to public debate and to their reputations does not depend on the difference.

Language matters. Free speech matters. If the powerful and well connected can destroy the reputation of those with which the disagree, debate is impossible. Defamation laws exist to protect citizens from destuctive personal attack but also to serve to protect our ability to debate the important issues. Who would debate if the cost was to have one's name becomeing a hissing and a byeword?

 I hope that David Quinn and the small group at Iona pick themselves up after their terrible loss, find the very best legal advice possible and use this as a teaching moment. Civilised debate in Ireland needs that.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Same Sex Marriage, Anti-Freedom, Anti-Rights and Pro-State - What, No One Told You?

Many Libertarians support Same Sex Marriage and they are wrong.


Same Sex marriage is not the State opening marriage up in the simulcrum of a libertarian commonwealth but a concerted state power grab where the state redefines a complex, evolved social institution, then enforces that redefinition coercively to expand its power over all families. 

Marriage is being redefinded not because the nature of the family has changed but because those seeking change either do not understand the purpose of the institution, or worse, are actively hostile to that purpose. They may sound like talking Hallmark cards but their reasons are far from pretty. Modern is not an argument, chanting the date not a reason to fundamentally alter the legal relationship between the state, children and parents nor is opposing Same Sex Marriage either anti-gay or a rejection of the ability of gay people to love and form enduring relationships. A debate about marriage is fundamentally a debate about the legal structure of families and the relationships between parents, children and society. 

Same Sex Marriage strips families of the very fundamental right to exist or generate without the explicit approval of the state and transfers that enormous power to the government. We have become so blind to the fundamentals both of freedom and state that this seems invisible, seems not to be happening.

Family is not just some fractal, quantum of the state's power, family is a competing, often oppositional power structure to the state. This is why totalitarians always aim to take down the family. Totalitarian regimes come to power by destroying law but in power the family is the target, its independence an affront and a danger to the state. 

Families are self-made: we are entitled to select our partner or partners and establish kinship with whom we choose. Heterosexual families create a next generation, they are self perpetuating entities independent of outside consent or interference. The rights parents exercise over children are uncontested because they are the children's uncontested parents and no other claim to rearing or education is greater in a law based society. Only where the fundamental rights of the child are being breached can anyone, always the state now, come between parent and child. Creation of extra, positive rights for children does not, in effect, expand the childs rights, but rather the power of the interfering party: the Children's Rights Amendment to the Irish Constitution, had it been any less anodyne, would have been the State and Social Workers Right amendment. 
Same Sex partners with children are the exact antithesis of that independent self generating entity: they always require an outside force to establish rights since they are NEVER the uncontested natural parents. At best only one of the partners will be such to any of the children involved, leaving a power gap the state is only too willing to fill. Adoption, the extended prostitution of surrogacy, all leave a possibility of contested relationships that must be settled by the state. Cam and Mitchell need the state to vindicate their realtionship with Lily, Claire and Phil's relationship with Haley, Alex and Luke may be approved by the state but does not require such vindication.

This fundamental difference in relationship is what makes Same Sex Marriage a state power grab. By redefining marriage as a degendered, one size fits-all-model the state grants itself effective approval of all familial ties. Libertarians arguing for Same Sex Marriage are merely Lenin's useful idiots, advancing Big Government in the area where its power has always been not just viciously contested but at best vestigal.

Libertarians are drawn to support SSM on the grounds that anyone should be allowed marry anyone they want. This may indeed work fine in  state-less Libertarian Commonwealth where nobody is coerced into recognising, taking part or being governed by the rules of such unions. In a coercive state it is a recipe for enormous state power over all families. 

In science Fiction time travel throws up the usual grandfather pardoxes but also the endles tit-for-tat change wars that respect neither pardoxes nor logic. Similarly radical reform (deform) cannot be unidirectional. The supposition that anyone should be allowed marry anyone also contains within it, by the very nature of its radical re-ordering of the institution, the idea that any number should be allowed marry any number. Only by stripping marriage of meaning can Same Sex Marriage make sense but that sense always requires an extension of state power.

"Don't want a Gay Marriage? Then don't get one!" remains
the facile slogan of the activists but the redefinition of marriage proposed in Same Sex Marriage gives all families a denatured, state dependent set of relationships. It is hard to think of anything less libertarian.

Friday, 20 December 2013

The Fool, The Maoist and The Big Fat Lie

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso is a man of almost ferocious attachment to bad ideas. 
He has made a career of it, from his days as a brutally stupid Maoist to his incompetent, bumbling Presidency of the Imperial Commision but even with his track record it is still astounding to hear this europerv blame Ireland for the troubles of the shoddy, ill thought out and worse regulated euro.

When the incompetent ECB was left in charge of the currency, which was a political football and not an economic means of exchange, the results were always going to be bloody. As it turned out with interest rates designed set to suit Germany ravaged by Kohl's precipitous and impoverishing union with the East, it was the fast growing edges of the Zone, particularly Ireland that got the flensing.

In Febuary 2000 Martin Feldstein, an economist with a hefty and serious track record including a spell as Chair of Reagan's Council of Economic advisors predicted that the low interest rates set by the ECB would result in a disastrous over heating of the fast paced Irish economy (here). No one in the ECB, particularly the wining-and-dining numpty appointed as a compromise President of the silly institution, Jean Claude Trichet, either read the article or took as much as a pfennig's notice. 

As newly cheap money poured into Ireland's loan market and the next-election obsessed Bertie Ahern drove the boom boomier (I paraphrase the former Taoiseach) Irish inflation made interest rates effectively negative: it paid to borrow. With the price of money warped and distorted, risk could no longer be assessed and was ignored. That is always what happens with long-term too-low interest rates.

There was no brakes on the runaway train. As Ireland's borrowings exceeded the nations savings, foreign banks, mostly German, stepped in with banker's heroin: short term paper. By 2006 Irish banks, certain that with no exchange rate issues there was no risk, were taking in €120 BILLION short term euro bonds per year. The ECB, with a duty under the Maastricht Treaty to monitor and control such international capital flows was oblivious. 

The euro created the boom, the euro was its blood, bone and flesh. That boom made the bust. When that bust happened Ireland's Government guaranteed the country's banks, damming every Irish person with the cost of the ECB's failures but saving Germany's banking system. There is a vast, separate exploration of the weekend of 29th September 2008 and the lies told then to be made but the alternative courses, leaving all or some banks to fail must have looked more expensive to Brian Lenihan.

The reaction from the glass tower in Frankfurt? The vicious blackmailing of a sovereign government into paying every last junior bond holder, every gambler, their losses. Rightly the quite and conservative Colm Carthy of Bord Snip fame has repeatedly described the actions of the ECB as being openly hostile to Ireland.

Now Barroso, a man promoted at several 100 levels above his competence (sub-under-toilet cleaner?) has decided to put the boot in. 

Ireland is to blame for the Euro woes.

Ireland caused the the problems for all 17 countries

Irish tax payers MUST continue to pick up the massive tab caused by ECB incompetence because there will be no retrospective funding of the Bank intervention.

In his studied and haughty hostility  euronasty Barroso has done us a massive favour. He has blown away every illusion, every fluffy cloud Kenny and Noonan could puff. Now the naked face of where we are and who is our enemy is clear.

When the Government put money into the banks that money was created by the Irish Central Bank acting as an agent of the ECB. This is called the Emergency Liquidity Assistance. Barroso believes we will keep paying back that now €51 BILLION ELA debt to our Central Bank, who will promptly burn the money to satisfy the ECB's isdeas about inflation and moral hazard. Neither apply. The €51 billion is trivial in comparsion the the Eurozone money measurements, even the tighter M1. Moral hazard should apply to the incompetent ECB, not the Irish people who had NO way of stopping the trainwreck the Euro sponsored.

I have news for José Manuel Barroso.

We are not as stupid as our elected politicians. 
We won't pay because it is not our debt and neither the Imperial Commission nor the ECB have any way of extracting money from a free and determined people. We left a bigger, stronger much better organised empire before and we can do it faster and harder than the europervs can dream.

Thanks for starting the rebellion José!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Free Speech & Offence, Horse and Carriage of Rights

Perils of a Catholic boyhood. As a child I was puzzled by what I thought was the rather risqué compliment offered the Blessed Virgin Mary by the prayer The Divine Praises in the line "....and blessed be St Joseph, her most chaste spouse."

Allow for it was mainly heard, not read and I was even less literate than now, but the fact that the women of Nazereth spent their time hunting and luring St Joseph seemed to be a puzzling tribute to his spouse, her serene holiness and her ability to keep her man. The seven year old me that did not know the difference between "chaste" and " chased" formed a peculiar view of the social life of Roman era Nazereth....

Now that I am older and more knowledgeable, I am not wise enough to even attempt chastity, a virtue to which the Catholic Church holds all believers, gay, straight or confused, are called.
Yesterday University College Galway disbanded a Catholic student society, The Legion Of Mary, for advertising a religious group that works/prays with what they delicately call "people with a same sex attraction" to achieve chastity. Not even conversion to straightness, mass murder or the end of academic bureauracracy, just chastity, standard Catholic teaching.

The A4 posters on College notice boards are deemed to have offended gay people and indeed the college claimed to have received over  seventy complaints ( seventy one?). In a world which elevates offence to secular mortal sin, this was enough for the academic bureaucrats to take action against the LoM which was banned. You don't need to be a chaste Catholic to find this heavy handed censorship disturbing. As a very unchaste, and not often enough chased gay man, I find it intellectually deviant.

Universiities should be in the business of exposing people to ideas ( and vice-versa!), that NUIG is not and believes students need protection from an idea as harmelss as chastity advice should worry any one considering it as a college.

That Free Speech is vital to democracy, to public and intellectual life should not need to be said. Once we decide that offence trumps the right to say (and say includes publish, let's heed Derrida on the privileging of the spoken) that with which someone disagrees, we have decided to limit what may be discussed, thought, or considered. If I am offended by what you say that is my problem, if I can enforce my dislike of your speech by silencing you that is everyone's problem.

That I should be defending free speech for the second time in four months says we have have that problem, Galway.

If free speech does not include the right to offend then it is not free. Freedom only to say the agreed and the uncontentious is not freedom at all. By establishing the right of anybody to silence speech with which they disagree NUIG are creating a campus not, as the academic bureaucrats claim, safe for all students, but dangerous for students, ideas and debate. Banning the Legion of Mary because their poster offended gays means claiming the power of censoring any group or individual whose ideas offend. The gaystabo may be happy now but woe betide the physics department when the Flat Earth society wake up to the power offence gives them.

Of course the Flat Earthers have not the cachet and cool of us gays, and lack the organisational ability to create the outrage necessary to move the bureaucrats to action. Posting the "offensive" poster on Facebook meant complaints came from at least as far as Aberdeen. (fact courtesy of the plaintiff there)

Given that I have had death threats from "LGBT" activists in the last month I find the explanation of the complaints given me  by one ex NUIG student a little ironic : "My concern was that a society shouldn't be making lgbt students feel targeted".  The poster advertised a voluntary activity. Banning such "targeting" because you disagree with the message means waging war on almost any sectorally aimed message. Offence is an open door, not a limited chink in the wall.  

If offence draws retribution then we learn to avoid offence to survive, we think less, say less, hear less because we learn to fear the sucked in breath, the wagged head. Censoring for offence is a charter for bullies not a protection for the powerless. Other Catholic groups in NUIG will now feel that chill wind and will learn circumspection. Many more will learn the power of offence.

The bien pensant despite for Christians is not enormously different from the dislike and abhorrance gays once faced. Gays may not always be cool or on top of the victim heap. When we are not, we would be better served by real freedom than by a corrupt system of offence censorship. NUIG and its students would be much better served by a vibrant, free, market place of ideas than by imposing what must eventually turn into a system of self censorship. The academic bureaucrats have shamed the college and started themselves down a dangerous road. Apologising for drastic, bureaucratic overreach and re-instating the Legion of Mary as a student society would be a good first step back to sanity and freedom.

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