Sunday, 5 October 2014

Porn Politics, McNulty and the Commentariat

There was something almost pornographic in watching the commentariat and politicians work themselves into a orgasmic lather over the appointment of John McNulty to the board of the Irish Museum Of Modern Art. Pornography stages a ritualised travesty of sex for the sexually challenged, this was a ritualised travesty for the politically challenged. Politicians make political appointment, SHOCK

IMMA is, in the scheme of state boards, an irrelevancy, to voters and politicians, carrying nothing in reward or benefit.  McNulty's appointment was merely a piece of risible incompetence. As the government candidate in a seanad bye-election in which only TDs and Senators can vote, McNulty would have to murder a drag-queen while brandishing a papal flag and reciting the Nicene Creed to even dent his majority. Appointing him to the board of IMMA,either to fulfil the constitutional requirement of “professional interest” or to increase his electoral saleability was pointless and risked just the political fallout it created.


The manufactured outrage from Fianna Fail's rump was particularly ironic: the party's strength was its plundering of state appointments for its sixty one years in power, right up to the last days before the 2011 election but irony has no place in politics. For democratic politics to work we must ignore the irony of oppositions holding governments to standards of which they are incapable themselves. 


Sadly, in this case, by misdirecting their faux outrage, the opposition missed a real scandal. Paudie Coffey's appointment of a director of Irish Water, Hillary Quinlivan, as his driver was a serious matter of corporate governance. To turn a director of a company for which one (nominally at least) is responsible, into a kept creature no much better than a catspaw was disgraceful. Mr Coffey professed to see nothing wrong in such an action, a stance which either is utterly dishonest or marks him as too stupid to be in office.


For some in the commentariat art, particularly modern art, has a holy and moral significance. They are its guardians against the barbarian ignorami, they keep it as a sacred trust for the time the proles will appreciate it. These are the ones who say the word "Beckett" with a reverence Opus Die members reserve for "God". Their horror was particularly poignant, for them this was bodily violation, a statue of Caligula in the Holy of Holies.

A large amount of the outrage was based on the Fine Gael election manifesto, the promise of “ A New Politics” and various commendations to “transparency”. Anyone gullible enough to have voted for or believed such should have their voting rights rescinded. Nobody but the entirely dishonest promises honesty: an honest man does not think of it. An honest politician is unelectable and therefore, by definition, non-existent.
The proper response to the short lived appointment of Mc Nulty (six days as IMMA's rules preclude running for election as a board member) was peals of laughter at the stupidity of those involved. Instead we have been treated to a feast of flagellated outrage and staged swooning as if it mattered except as a demonstration of incompetence, stupidity and pettiness. It is not that incompetence, stupidity and pettiness should not be exposed, they should, but the artificial hysteria in which the commentariat indulged was as big an issue because it was based on politics most enduring and damaging fiction: the Myth of Better People.
This is the lie that that any failed system would work if only better people were in charge. In various forms this mendacity pervades politics. Socialism would work if the right people were in charge, the Euro-Boom would not have bankrupted Ireland if Fianna Fail had been kept out of power.
A Dail committee to examine appointees to state boards would put some politicians, and by dint of it being a public process, some journalists in charge. Any proposed appointee will have their abilities, history and stated attitudes torn asunder by publicity seeking clowns under the guise of transparency. ESB directors would be quizzed on their attitude to transgenderism, no useful person would put their name forward. Journalists would report this farago with the breathless intensity of teenagers talking of their nascent romantic entanglements, Twilight meets the Sopranos in a badly drawn cartoon.
There are no better people. Political decisions are what you get if you leave the decisions to politicians, appointing untouchable commissioners is an even worse solution.

There is a way of cutting corrupt patronage but the professionally outraged would hate to see their sole sales tactic ruined. Cut government. Cut quangos. Cut the amount of boards that government has to reward party hangers on. Return potentially productive economic assets to the vitalising private sector, cultural institutions to not for profit trusts. This would have doubly virtuous action of cutting a large army of hangers on off AND putting assets into good, unsubsidised use.

The lesson that should be learned from Mcnulty/IMMA is that there is no new politics, merely politicians looking for votes. When a politician promises a new politics and decries the past we should know he or she is a liar and a charlatan. The recent past was no more scandalous than the present or the future, just past. Waging a fictitious war on it may con the gullible but is no substitute for freeing us to make our own decisions, away from the dead, corrupt hand of government.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

A Bloody Business Begins, Sarajevo Ruined the 20th Century

File:FN Model 1910 IMG 3065.jpg
Today, June 28th, one hundred years ago, the nineteenth century ended in two pistol shots. Both struck and killed a victim, the heir to the Austrian throne, Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, Sophie, but the effect of those two shots was to create scores of millions of victims. 

World War I was the worst disaster ever to befall humanity, slaughtering millions during its course but spawning a chain of disasters that themselves kill, destroy and impoverish, turning the short Twentieth century into a charnel house. It is the defining event of the century and of all history since.

The war was neither inevitable or a necessary outcome of the assassination. The Serbian Government (a regime which had come to power on a murderous coup in 1908) whose agents had orchestrated the murder, should have been an international pariah. Instead Serbia the support of one of histories truly disastrously stupid rulers, Nicholas II of Russia, in resisting the extradition of the conspirators. 

Nicholas was one of the early victims of the spawned disasters: assassinated by the Bolsheviks the war brought to power, a man consumed by the conflagration he helped create. He was not alone. The suffering of Russians under in the twentieth century defies comprehension. Historian cannot convey the misery, only the numbers. As always only fiction can cope with the horrors and give them a human flesh. Ivan Denisovich Shukhov died by the millions under a system that reduced people to penury and had quotas for Gulags and murder. Princip's bullets brought Lenin and his Bolsheviks to power.

The suffering of Russians was multiplied by the daughter World War I bore, World War II. The vast slaughter of the Eastern Front is unparallelled in history but everything about Hitler's war, from the industrialised murder of the concentration camps to to the speed and savagery of the military campaigns, was unique. (By the horrible coincidences of history one of Franz Ferdinand's grandsons died on the Eastern Front, another in the wretched slaughter of the POWs by the Russians. His two sons survived Dachau.). Hitler too, rode to power on Princip's bullets. The German Jews that fought with such bravery for the fatherland were rewarded with the horrors of the Shoah 20 years later.

The USSR ended the the second war in effective occupation of Albania,Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Poland,East Germany, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The unfortunate inhabitants were subjected to all the terror, cruelty and impoverishment Communism could devise. The too, were victims of Princip's bullets and it is somewhat ironic that the Yugoslavia Princip wanted was rejected by the nationalities in another hideous conflict on the collapse of communism. That too...
To pay for more slaughter Governments everywhere abandoned the stable, fiscal prudence enforcing Gold Standard( de jure or de facto)and created fiat currencies. This was the abandonment of the classical, liberal economics that had made the nineteenth century the greatest in humanities economic history. In 1925 Britain returned to the Gold Standard but at the same pre-war level, as if the war had cost nothing. America expanded its monetary instruments throughout the twenties, largely on the back of the war inflow of gold from Britain. Germany was forced to pay a vast and unjust reparations bill. The net effect of all three and the inchoate, confused and stupid policies of US authorities between 1928 and 1932 was to create a vicious depression, made infinitely worse by the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the US presidency.

WWI is is sometimes justified by commentators on the basis that, whatever the immediate causes, it was a war against German statism. This might have some validity except it was statism and the economics of  the Historical School tradition that emerged victorious from the slaughter. If the war was an extension of the Methodenstreit, then the German School won.

The result was the creation of an intellectual climate in which the mumbojumboism of Keynes was taken for truth. Not since Marx had nonsense done so much harm as Keynes's"The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" but all of it was predicated on the death of nineteenth century economic liberalism. 
Perversely it was the Austrians that preserved sense and truth, Mises's advice kept post-war Austria from following Germany into hyperinflation and Hayek was the counter weight to Keynes in public. Oh Vienna!

Now the vast EU imperium and the europervs who want it use the that war and its effects as a threat, a modern version of "dont let go of nurse for fear of something worse". World War I occurred because politicians and rulers were not sufficiently afraid of war, because Nicholas II was supported in his vile and immoral choices by first the French and later, the British. The EU is not some magic prophylactic against war, only the constant realisation that war is a stupid, vile and vulgar idea, and that we ought not let politicians print the money to pay for slaughter, protects us. Giving politicians power leads to war.


All of history since that June day in 1914 has been twisted and shattered by two shots fired by a teenager so poor that he was starved small. Princip himself died horribly, of skeletal tuberculosis, seven months before the war he helped create ended. He was in many ways the fore runner of all suicidal terrorists, his abjectly poor childhood was the result of the the poverty created by Islam and his cyanide pill was out of date. In Serbia he is a hero and there he will be commemorated fondly. We should be more careful about our commemorations.

 There are four years of bloody centenaries to come. World War I was a vast, unnecessary slaughter that created poverty and political disaster from which we are barely recovering. It should neither be romanticized by the rough hessian loving camp followers of Rupert Brooke nor utilised by the europervs as a weapon of fear. The Great War stands by itself, a monument to the incompetence of politicians, and today it slouches towards Sarajevo to be born.  

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Of Bastards.

"Tyrion: Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.
Jon: What the hell do you know about being a bastard, Imp?"
A Song of Ice And Fire. George R R Martin.

Bastardy did hurt and there was no armour against the cruelty and disdain. Bastard was epithet with real power to wound and destroy because illegitimacy mattered, socially, legally and financially. A kind and wonderful woman told me of leaving her large-farmer employer at fourteen for better paid work in a local hotel, only for her former employer's wife to came brandishing her social security stamp book bellowing her birth name rather than that of her adopted family. It is impossible now to understand her embarrassment or the effect this had the child's social relationships or why my friend left that job, one of a sequence of bad choices driven by her feeling of shame. Bastard is a brand we cannot understand, we have not lived there, we are neither Jon Snow or Tyrion Lannister.


If we ignore the lies, hype and hysteria of the Tuam Babies (and on the basis that eight hundred babies in a septic tank was a complete lie and fabrication, we need to) we are still left with the uncomfortable legacy of the recent past. The past is not just another country, merely a poorer one with other people . For someone of ninteen, 1960 appears an aeon away, but if but for someone of seventy three that was their halcyon nineteenth year. That far past happened to them.


The rush to condemn the practices of adoption in the past is being done from that wonderful hillock of Now's High Moral Ground with no reference to the facts or opinions of the time. Victor McClure was derided for "Gee Ma, you're the best cook in Gaza" but no one is derided for the far worse anachronism of insisting that that adoptions of 1930 resemble the adoptions of 2014. With far more adoptable children than available parents, little money to support care institutions and a world wide horror of single parenthood, adoption past was governed by very different needs.(Sweden, with sterilisation, did it better, if you are a fan of Sweden and that type of thing)


Family was better than institution, institution better than the streets. Given a second chance and a clean break, a woman could make a good life. At all costs her past should not haunt her. From our lofty hillock we can jeer such ideas, hate their provenance and protest at their application but that is to fight with history and history doesn't give a damn.Poverty shaped the choices of individuals and institutions, and poverty, like pain, is neither remembered nor understood in recounting. 


We are used to the idea of the government confiscating wealth to support groups that do not or cannot support themselves. Such confiscation and redistribution would have been regarded as a horrible theft to support immorality for much of the past. Again you may throw up your hands in horror but the past is shaped by the people who lived it. 


There is a case to be made both for the long term uselessness of such payments but also of the harm done both to other groups and society by confiscatory redistribution. Try as we might we cannot piece together a culture once it is broken, the culture of marriage and stable families serves children and society far better than the culture of replacing fathers with welfare checks. We may look with horror on the death rates in Mother and Baby Homes only if we question why the children of single female headed households are doing so badly by comparison to the children of married parents in our time.


That past is immutable, we can learn from the mistakes made there but not change them, while we make our own. Ideally our mistakes should not repeat those made previously. In 1930 the stigma and shame of illegitimacy and single parenthood  (neither a peculiarly Irish nor 20th century horror) far outweighed the natural, human desire to know birth parents and antecedents. Now we can see the wrong done to adopted children who are deprived of access to biological parents and family, cut off from all those real, necessary pleasures of seeing their ancestry in their themselves, or more powerfully, in their child. 


There is much to criticise in the Mother and Baby Homes and care institutions. Lack of basic kindness and Christian charity, too high a death rate and too low educational

outcomes, willingness to accept low standards for the vulnerable people in care all need to be assessed and answered. Catholics might additionally question why the orders founded with such optimism too often strayed far from their charism. (A Catholic who is not outraged by the betrayal of the ideals and work of St Edmund Ignatius and Mother Catherine Aikenhead should worry why not). We should also ask why these children were treated with such disdain and such horrific, legal violence in schools, why ordinary people who dealt with children in care  behaved with such callousness. Why did everyone, religious, political and media figures, reject the extreme criticism of the Industrial schools by the ( by then) internationally famous Fr Edward Flanagan ( http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.ie/2009/05/boys-town-founder-fr-flanagan-warned.html)

The mistake of amputating children from ancestry, done for whatever good reason then, is one that resonates most profoundly. Altering birth certificates, using false names, keeping no useful record make the emotionally difficult search for birth parents utterly heartbreaking.


Why then, when we know the cost, is this Government about to repeat the cruellest, most long term, and most avoidable of mistakes? The Children and Family Relationships Bill 2013 intends to allow two males or two females to be registered as a child's parents on their birth certificate. This horrendous legal fiction, a direct attack on children's rights, is being done so same sex surrogate parents can enjoy the legal right to steal a child's birth right to his or her ancestry. If it was wrong for Orders to do that in 1930 surely it is multiple times worse for the state to do it in 2014 especially when we now know the human cost?


Surrogacy is an ethical minefield, at best it is a form of legalised, long term prostitution that plays with the lives of children as if they were mere farm animals or dogs bred for the pleasure of adults. "This is our labralsatian and this our daughter Fifi Mount Sinai Patty Hearst Piketty Flower." 



Surrogacy is presented as a New Good, compassionate (why is it always compassion they pervert?) and beautiful.  In the documentary "Her Body Our Babies" we saw the ugly face of child commodification when the order was given for "embryo reduction", Ruby and Donal's sibling was aborted from the rented womb. Only Lord Voldemort could regard humans as so disposable ( "A high voice commands, "Kill the spare.") but no thought is been given to the effect on the surviving children of discovering they are survivors of Voldemort Roulette in a rented womb. Still less concern is shown for those women driven by poverty to sell themselves, their fertility and their children. By comparison using first world wealth for whoring is kinder, shorter and more honest.

 In the wake of everything we know about the pain and hurt caused by untraceable adoptions the correct answer to surrogacy is to give primacy to biology. Always the birth parents should be the registered parents on the birth certificate. if we do not insist on correct traceable fully legal adoption process should be in place. Banning any activity between adult humans is never a good idea but deliberately creating a legal fiction which gifts children, with legally created false birth certificates, to couples with the wealth to rent wombs, creates second class humans at birth. Outside of surrogacy an infant goes through a rigorous adoption process, surrogate babies don't. Bring a child into the country from a dodgy adoption, face jail, come back from India having rented a womb, killed the child's sibling  and you can write the biological mother off the birth cert

Individuals may not learn from their mistakes but a state that insists on examining a mistake in the past that it is deliberately repeating today, loses any legitimacy it might have. Shatters (Now Fitzgerald's ) Bill bastardises law, justice and honesty. It must not pass in its current format.

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.

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