datbeardyman

Less about the world, more about me.

Category: Media (page 1 of 11)

Final Column: A walk on the wild side amid Tralee’s urban cacophony

As published in The Kerryman 23-11-16

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This is my final column for The Kerryman. There was a change made to this piece which I cannot stand over.  I will highlight the piece that was added and I’ll include what it replaced. The issue is the use of the word immigrant to describe asylum seekers. I was unable to convince The Kerryman that this was fundamentally inaccurate.  

*

I like towns and cities. I like the variety, cultures and noise. But I also like that towns usually set aside spaces for nature, or at least the appearance of nature. Hustle and bustle are all the more enjoyable if one is able to occasionally escape them. So, I took a stroll on the newly improved Canal Walkway in Tralee.

There’s nothing as restorative as a quiet walk where one’s mind can wander and find peace. And the Canal Walkway is a wonderful example of a planned oasis of calm amidst the urban cacophony. Deceptively soothing despite the busy Dingle road humming away across the narrow expanse of water.

It’s a short walk. Stretching from Tralee to Blennerville, a bare few minutes for the jogger, a little longer for the rowers that use it for their strenuous leisure and a little longer again for the middle-aged man lost in thought.

The canal was opened in 1846 to bypass the silt affected port at Blennerville, allowing ships to load and unload their cargoes in the heart of Tralee. It closed in 1930s as Fenit then had a deep-water port and was connected by railway to Tralee. That line is now also being turned into a walkway for people eager to experience a relaxing amble. Yesterday’s sinews of international trade becoming today’s investment in healthy arteries.

But no more of history. Or so I thought. One begins this walk beside a modern apartment block. A legacy of the Tiger, but at least one that is aging well. Across the canal is the newly built club house of those aforementioned rowers. And beyond it there’s a Direct Provision facility. In a dark period of Irish history The Jeanie Johnson sailed from nearby Blennerville carrying emigrants to America where they hoped to make better lives for themselves. The Direct Provision facility accommodates immigrants hoping for a better life here. We can ask ourselves if we afford them the kind of opportunities we ourselves sought in other lands. (What I’d written: A reminder of a time when we warehoused human beings instead of dealing with them. Hidden away while generating profit for the warehousers. Sometimes history is just the same story repeating itself.)

But we walk on. The path of pristine tarmac, illuminated by the modern lighting so one can avoid the ubiquitous dog waste, passes a sea of reeds to our right. It looks so out of place, set so close to apartments and houses. It’s very oddity acts as a balm.

The reeds give way to farmland. In the distance, there are mountains shrouded in cloud. There is one square of green in those brown hills. Farmland cut into the side of the mountain. What kind of back-breaking effort must have gone into claiming that land from the mountain?

If you’re lucky the sun will give a dazzling shimmer to the choppy water. This canal has the feel of a river to it. Built for ships it’s deeper than canals I’ve seen in other towns and cities.

On your right, the green fields are replaced by wetlands. There is a couple of swans raising an almost fully grown cygnet. It could have turned white by the time you read this. My knowledge of birds extends to being able to identify a swan. On my walk, I saw two other species of large birds that I’d never seen before. One was black with a yellow bill, the other, perched in a tree, was white with some grey/black feathers.

But my phone does not have an app for identifying birds. I was strangely pleased by that. Just as you leave the swans behind you come to a bridge. You can cross the bridge but then that’s a whole other column.

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Column: Predjudice thrives in a new era of brute survival

As published in The Kerryman 16-11-16

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Am I amazed? Am I shocked? Am I appalled? You betcha. I didn’t think they’d actually do it. I never dreamed they’d fall for that man’s cacophony of bigotry, misogyny and ignorance. But I was wrong. That I’m not alone in getting the result of the US presidential election wrong isn’t any comfort. A man who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, a man who boasts about grabbing women’s vaginas, a man who says he respects Vladimir Putin will be the most powerful man on Earth.

But as much as I’d like to, I can’t spend an entire column detailing how disgusted I am. There is an expectation that I at least try to understand what happened. And I can’t just write off 60 million Americans as racist, gropey, rednecks. I’m tempted to, but despite my best efforts I remain an optimist. I have to believe they didn’t simply choose to endorse white supremacy and sexual assault.

People are hurting in America. This is true. Large swathes of the mid-west have been effectively deindustrialised. Making things and mining the stuff to make those things is now largely done in countries that do it far cheaper. Electronics, household goods and even cars are cheaper and more plentiful than they’ve ever been and they are rarely made in the rich countries that consume them.

Those Democratic voting states that defined themselves by the making of stuff have been devastated. They now must rely on insecure and non-unionised jobs that offer little beyond brute survival. A way of life has died. A way of life that flourished in a time where race relations, gender roles and attitudes to difference were less enlightened than today.

To call it nostalgia is unfair to the middle-aged white man working two dead-end jobs just to cover his mortgage. There is anger, righteous anger. There is even despair. So why not take a punt on the loud mouth who promises to turn back the clock? Hillary Clinton was obviously the more qualified candidate, but she didn’t promise to make America great again because she thought America was already great.

As far as I can tell, Americans do actually take that seriously. Many truly believe America either is, or was, great. It’s a strangely naive thing to think about a nation founded on genocide, slavery and institutionalised racism but they do seem to believe it. And if you are that middle aged white man or white woman, struggling to make ends meet, brought up being taught they are entitled to better, then desperate gambles to recapture that notion of greatness, become less desperate.

That he is a vitriolic man-child is beside the point, he has promised to turn the clock back. That his own Republican party despise him is of no consequence, they were largely responsible for shipping those secure jobs overseas anyway. That he was a Democrat until a few years ago is meaningless as he has promised a better past. That he is a serial bankrupt is of no consequence because he speaks to their fears and prejudices.

Not everyone who voted for that man is a white supremacist and a misogynist but they did vote for one. I can sympathise and even empathise with their desperation, but turning the clock back is a fool’s paradise. And I fear they will learn to regret this global gamble.

 

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Column: Choosing between the disliked and the dangerous

As published in The Kerryman 09-11-16

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As I write this I don’t know who has won the US presidency. At one point Hillary Clinton was heading for a landslide. But the FBI revealing further investigations into her email history has brought Donald Trump back into the race. I’d thought a Trump victory as unlikely as the UK voting to leave the EU.

I’m amazed to find myself in a reality where Donald Trump is within a few points of becoming the most powerful man on Earth. The Americans are inclined towards hyperbole. Land of free, land of hope and all that jazz. But the President of the United States is both leader of this world’s richest nation and Commander in Chief of the most powerful military to have ever existed.

Even in Kerry, three thousand miles away, who leads America matters. Fortunately, for most of the time, the choice between candidates isn’t all that dramatic. Their ideologies, policies and aims tend to be at least mutually intelligible. Often the contest can come down to personality, incumbency or which party is due a win. Even when America chose to elect a black man, they didn’t elect a radical pledged to right the historical wrongs done to black people by America. Obama’s main concern was to tend to an ailing economy and find some way to make health care more available.

If either of his opponents had won, America would be little different from what it is now. It might’ve been a little richer or poorer, might be a lot less fair to the poor and might have a slightly different foreign policy. But it would be recognisably America. But Obama’s greatest achievement was to be so charismatic that the American presidency seems to demand a gravitas and a seriousness that few can emulate.

Fortunately, Hillary Clinton doesn’t try to be Obama. She tries to be serious in her own way. A seriousness based on a lifetime of public service. She has become incredibly wealthy, has a trail of scandals following her that would’ve ended most political careers and is generally disliked and mistrusted by Americans. Against almost any other opponent she’d be facing annihilation at the polls. I dislike her immensely but I would vote for her and I would dedicate my every waking hour to ensuring she won.

I would do all I could to help her because she faces not just another Republican politician. She faces a billionaire buffoon who delights in speaking and pandering to the worst elements of the American psyche.

The greatest con played on the American people, by the American people, was that they assumed the election of Obama healed the wounds of slavery and marginalisation. Worse, it allowed many white people, afflicted by unemployment and loss of privilege, to believe they’ve lost out to people of colour. The white poor have genuine grievances about their economic insecurity but in Trump they have an advocate who seeks to exploit their plight, not heal it.

Even if he could produce some rational policies and a cohesive vision, I’d vote for Hillary. In America, there are only two choices. Even if Hillary was discovered to have robbed a bank at gunpoint I would vote for her. If she was to spout wings, grow a tail and spew fire from her nostrils it’s still difficult to imagine her presidency being anything but straightforward and boring. It’s impossible to anticipate a Trump presidency being anything other than a calamity.

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Column: It should be possible to be more discriminating about discrimination

As published in The Kerryman 02-11-16

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The Court of Appeal in Belfast recently upheld a finding that Ashers Baking Company had discriminated against Gareth Lee. Mr Lee is a LGBT rights activist who ordered and paid for a cake that displayed a pro marriage equality message. Ashers had initially accepted the order but after two days’ consideration they changed their minds. They objected that the cake’s message went against their Christian beliefs.

It’s possible that a case like this will arise in Kerry. Bakers, printers, pubs, hotels, photographers etc. may find that their sincerely held beliefs are in conflict with their legal requirement not to discriminate against members of the LGBT community.

Should a business be legally entitled to discriminate against minorities? Or to put that question a different way, should one be obliged to act against one’s conscious? Then there’s a third way to frame this question, should the state being telling us what we may say, or indeed sell, to people?

There are many people who think the behaviour of Ashers is offensive but defend their right to be offensive. They make the argument that this ruling means that racists, homophobes, anti-Semites and Islamophobes will feel entitled to have businesses print their bile or host their hateful rallies.

This is an argument I have a lot of sympathy for. It is a free speech argument. I oppose all efforts by the State to curtail my right to say anything I want. And the only way I can maintain this ideological stance is to also defend the right of everyone else to say what they want or treat their customers how they want.

To be consistent I must accept verbal assaults and discrimination against LGBT people, just so I can condemn those attacks in the strongest possible terms. And if I was a gay man I could defend that ‘consistency’ to the hilt. But I’m not gay. I don’t get discriminated against. I’m not a woman and I’m not a person of colour. I’m not part of any minority that must accept abuse just so someone else who doesn’t get abused is free to say whatever they want about anything they want.

I am, as most people who look like me are, privileged. If I was a member of the LGBT community, my chances of experiencing mental health issues and suicide would be higher.  If I was a women I‘d be paid less, have less physical autonomy and fewer opportunities to advance in my chosen career. If I have a disability I can expect unemployment and marginalisation. The list of groups who must begin to grapple with life one step behind people like me is long. The closest I’ll get to understanding the reality of discrimination is if I reach my fifties or sixties and find myself looking for a job.

So it is very easy for me to defend freedom of speech. It is very easy for me to wrap my idealism around the idea that the state has no business telling people what they can say and how they must conduct their businesses. But consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. There have to be some exceptions. One must be able to say that discriminating against gay people is unacceptable while discriminating against racists is not.

Discrimination is always wrong, except when it isn’t. A species as advanced as ours should be able to understand this inconsistency and even celebrate it.

 

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Column: I get the point about speeding…just don’t give me the points

As published in The Kerryman 26-10-16

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There’s an unwritten rule observed by many of us who drive; a rule no one is ever taught by a driving instructor. The rule is, we flash our lights at oncoming drivers if we pass a speed check. It’s an exercise is mass civil disobedience. It’s not something that’s spoken about. It’s not celebrated. It isn’t a battle of heroic martyrs against an oppressive system.

It’s just a bunch of people conspiring with each other to circumvent the detection of lawbreaking. And it’s a bloody good system. I can’t even begin to estimate to number of points I’ve avoided over the years because some stranger has flashed me a warning.

I don’t consider myself a particularly fast driver. I make an extra special effort to drive at 50 kilometres per hour in areas where that speed limit applies. I do this because I obviously don’t want points but also because I understand there’s good science behind the 50km speed limit. In the areas where this speed limit applies there are a greater number of pedestrians. Going slower means decreased breaking distances. And where impacts do occur there’s a measurably better chance that the pedestrian will avoid death and even serious injury. So I feel a moral obligation to respect this law.

Outside of built up areas I must admit my sense of right and wrong gets a little bit fuzzier. So those flashing lights have been a great help.

There was a time I wasn’t concerned about being stopped for speeding. I never had a car that could do 100 miles per hour so I was never going to get into any real trouble. The points system however has me watching. I’m watching my speed, watching for speed vans and watching for flashing lights (warnings from other drivers, not blue lights with blaring sirens). It can be a bit exhausting.

I pay attention because I don’t want points. Not just because in time I may lose my licence, but more immediately, get a few points and my already expensive insurance becomes even more expensive.

How will I feel if and when I do get points? First, I will curse my luck for not holding out for several more years. Then I’ll be annoyed as I think about all the other drivers, who I see every day, doing things that merit points but who never get caught. The speedsters who whizz past me, even when I’m going too fast. The two or three drivers I see every day talking on their phones. And the people who park in the most stupid places, making already dangerous junctions almost lethal.

I might even get so angry about my bad luck that I contact my local representative and complain that I’m too respectable to get points. I’ll demand action, insist that speed checks should only happen to other people. Explain that when I am on the road I deserve special treatment.

And as I wallow in my self-pity I know I’ll have a politician trying to sooth me. A politician willing to go on national radio to fight for my right not to be caught driving too fast. Possibly even throw in a right to do a bit of drink driving as well, but only on the weekends, with a special licence, because I’m special.

Or I might try copping onto myself and drive within the speed limit from then on.

 

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Column: The knives are out for our heroes

As published in The Kerryman 19-10-16

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The old maxim ‘never meet your heroes’ is very difficult to adhere to these days. Media, old and new, has greatly reduced the distance between us and those we once admired from afar. An image could be carefully crafted and protected. Today, once someone has raised their head above the common crowd, the knives will be immediately out. Any and all skeletons will be found and shouted from the rooftops. This tearing down of heroes doesn’t serve any function beyond making money for the broadcasters and catering to our base desire for gossip and scandal.

It makes emotionally investing in other people and attempting to emulate virtual strangers, almost impossible. We commit and then they are found out. Earlier this year we experienced the profound disappointment of discovering Paul Kelly, the founder of Console, was something very different from his public persona.

Recently this country celebrated the canonisation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Irish people have a particular affection for this woman. She may have been Albanian, but she joined an Irish order of nuns and she did visit here.

World famous, Nobel winning and unprecedentedly sainted a mere 20 years after her death. She died with a reputation untainted by scandal or controversy. Her dedication to the poorest of the poor made her a household name all over this planet.

Well maybe not entirely free of controversy. There were some questions about her work. It is claimed that she found more merit in suffering than in relieving that suffering. It is has been said sanitation in some of her homes was poor: soiled blankets and dishes were washed in the sinks and hypodermic needles were reused. Her critics point out that she spoke against divorce in Ireland and then expressed happiness when her friend Princess Diana got a divorce.

She accepted money from the vicious Duvalier family, dictators of Haiti. When she was sick, she received the best private healthcare America could offer. And finally one of the miracles attributed to her should be attributed to modern medicine.

But she is a saint and she is loved. She is regarded as an inspiration. She is a hero. Do the facts of her work and life actually matter?

One of the people who was prominent in highlighting the less attractive aspects of Mother Teresa was Christopher Hitchens. A British journalist, polemicist, darling of the left and avowed atheist.

He died last year of throat cancer and resisted to the end the questionable comforts of religion. He lambasted Saint Teresa in word and on film, detailing what he saw as her hypocrisies and strange beliefs. He was a hero to those of us who adored his fearless erudition and his slaying of the sacred cows of our age.

Did he remain a hero? No. He supported the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003 with an enthusiasm that bordered on the bloodthirsty. For all his brilliance and supposed rationality, he did not foresee just how ruinous the invasion would be for the Iraqi people and the entire region.

How then do we have heroes when facts keep getting in the way of the legend? Must we decide to either close our eyes to the truth or give up on the notion of heroes altogether? Or maybe we see the humans who inspire as just that, human, with all this entails.

 

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Column: Who will tell our story when Earth becomes a wasteland?

As published in The Kerryman 28-09-16

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Have you ever wondered about what distinguishes our species from all the other animals? The late author Terry Pratchett insisted we are not Homo sapiens (wise man) but Pan narrans (the story telling chimpanzees). We describe the world, our place in the world and what that means to us, through story. These stories range from fantastical tales of dragons and aliens, to the more prosaic language of scientists naming stuff.

Not that scientists naming everything isn’t as important as caring about who should be allowed buy a particular field. For example, did you know we’re living in the Holocene Epoch. This literally means, ‘entirely recent’. Not very imaginative I’ll grant you but accurate. It began about 9,700 BCE and encompasses the entire span of human civilisation.

Now some scientists want to see a new epoch recognised. They insist that it be dated either from the period of the Industrial Revolution or from the beginning of the Atomic age. They want this epoch to be called the Anthropocene. What story are scientists trying to tell us with this single Greek word, Anthropocene? The ‘anthropo’ parts means man and ‘cene’ means new. They want to name this epoch after us. Sounds a bit arrogant doesn’t it? Except the story is a bit scarier than that.

Our particular human species has been around about 250,000 years. We only began to get down to agriculture and urbanisation, or civilisation for short, about 10,000 years ago. That’s when we really got into telling stories. However, it wasn’t until the 1700s that we began to change the planet.

Every year since then our species has ramped up the amount of damage it’s done to this, our only home. About a dozen species are pushed into extinction every day, due to pollution, habitat destruction and poaching. It is estimated that by the middle of this century, up to a half of the species on this planet will be facing extinction. In the last twenty years alone, we’ve destroyed one tenth of the Earth’s wilderness. Just over 680 times the area of Kerry, gone.

Much of the natural world, it animals and fauna, including us, got our big break about 66 million ago when an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs. This is described as the Fifth Mass Extinction Event in our planet’s history. Now there is a talk of a Sixth Mass Extinction. And it isn’t being caused by anything natural and unavoidable. It’s us and our continued destruction of the environment.

The damage is reaching a point where we might make Earth as uninhabitable for our species as we are already making it uninhabitable for a lot of other animals and plants.

Our species is not an asteroid but we are managing to do an asteroid’s work. Asteroids are unthinking destroyers of worlds. We are the storytelling chimpanzees. But all our stories up to now have taught us that we own this planet and can do with it as we please. Our stories have made us entitled and ignorant.

Will calling this the Anthropocene be enough to make us wise? Will story telling finally make us think? The dinosaurs reigned for millions of years, the only story they left behind is whatever we can decipher from their fossilised bones and what genes they left behind.

I wonder who or what will tell our story if we don’t manage to write a new ending.

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Column: Balanced debate shouldn’t be a clock-watching excercise

As published in The Kerryman 21-09-16

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While I was an enthusiastic supporter of the Marriage Equality referendum, the campaign left an unfortunate legacy, namely, balance. Or more precisely, how our media in general and RTE in particular, has chosen to interpret balance.

When something controversial is now discussed, on TV or on the radio, the quality and veracity of a contribution matters less than ensuring each side gets equal speaking time. This has made debate a thing of heat and fury, fun even, but informative it is not.

There’s no longer room for the complicated and nuanced. Debate is now gladiatorial and performative. One uses one’s allotted time to shovel as many soundbites onto the airwaves as possible before the other side shovels theirs. That these soundbites may be entirely inaccurate, perhaps even dishonest, doesn’t matter. All that matters is balance.

It has gotten to the point that the only subject where one is allowed to truly examine anything in detail, is sport.

When I want a particular Kerry performance analysed I have dozens of sources that will offer all kinds of perspectives on a single game. But they will also look at the history, current trends, make medium to long term predictions and generally make sure every aspect is covered. Also there will be a clear distinction between facts and opinions. This is what makes sports analysis so interesting and informative. And it is why we don’t look for analysis by watching a Kerry supporter and a Cork supporter arguing about who is better. That might be an enjoyable argument to have in the pub, but enlightening it will not be.

So what? Why does this matter? It’s important because there are subjects that require our particular attention. Issues that are complicated and controversial. They are issues so contentious, many of us switch off though our lives might very well depend on the conclusions of those debates.

Three issues spring immediately to mind: man-made climate change, abortion and vaccinations. All immensely controversial and all have life and death implications. Apple paying or not paying €13 billion in taxes is the much sexier topic of today, but it’s not all that complicated. The choices are quite easy to define. We either insist Apple pay what it owes us and risk them going elsewhere or we insist Apple doesn’t pay its taxes so they will continue creating jobs in Ireland and risk penalties from Europe.

OK, maybe it isn’t all that clear cut, but it isn’t life and death. Though perhaps a €13 billion injection into our creaking health system could save lives? So four issues spring immediately to mind.

When debated on TV we know exactly how the ‘show’ will go. And a show it will be. One side speaks for a minute. Then the other side. Followed by a back and forth until they are speaking over each other. Eventually the presenter calls a halt once he or she is satisfied both sides have had an equal amount of time to shovel their soundbites onto the airwaves. A show.

It’s 2016, we should be able to do better. Facts can be checked in the speed it takes to type a sentence. Debate should be about what must be done because of these facts. Debate cannot continue to be a clock watching exercise. Balance should not be about each side having their own ‘facts’.

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Column: Burkini ban is an insult to freedom

As published in The Kerryman 14-09-16

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A photograph of a woman on a French beach being forced to undress has provoked some controversy. It’s in broad daylight. The woman’s daughters are there, as are dozens of other sunbathers. The men forcing her to undress are armed. No one intervenes to protect the woman from this assault, in fact some cheer. Imagine the horror of such a violation. Imagine it happening on a beach in Kerry. Imagine it happening to your mother, your daughter, your sister, to you.

Yet this wasn’t an illegal act. The armed men were policemen enforcing a dress code that prevents Muslim women from wearing clothes that are not revealing enough. It’s hard to believe something like that could happen in France. The French are usually quite laisse faire regarding beachwear. Yet several towns recently banned the wearing of burkinis.

The burkini is an item of clothing that looks very much like a wetsuit. It covers the entire body but isn’t figure hugging. It was invented by an Australian Muslim woman who wanted Muslim girls to be able to participate in sports while maintaining the modesty requirements imposed by their religion.

It is an effective compromise. It meant an Egyptian team could compete in the Beach Volleyball event at the recent Rio Olympics. On one side a team of women in costumes that amounted to little more than scanty underwear. On the other side, costumes that only exposed the face, hands and feet.

But the burkini is controversial. While for many Muslim women the burkini is a welcome innovation, others regard is as oppressive. And there are the men who think it not oppressive enough. Some westerners regard the burkini as horrific while others think it none of our business.

France prides itself on being a secular republic. They even have a name for it, laïcité. Several politicians, in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks, used this concept to label the burkini as offensive to French values. A popular decision among certain sections of French society. Fortunately, these bans were struck out by the courts but not before a woman was forced to undress by armed men.

One can empathise with those who support this ban. The terrorist attacks the French suffered were so vicious and arbitrary, an over-reaction was almost inevitable. And then one remembers a woman was forced to undress in front of her children by armed men. Too many people appear to have forgotten that in Europe, we don’t tell women what to wear and use armed men to enforce this diktat. Well, not until now that is.

The burkini may be considered provocative by the some, the burka a source of disgust and the hijab an appalling imposition. In a free society if people wish to argue these points then they should argue. Heated, frustrating and even offensive arguments are the bedrock of social progress. But free speech encompasses more than words. What someone wears is as important expression of free speech as one’s freedom to question what is worn.

But we should also remember that Muslims are a vulnerable minority in Europe. When we argue we must remember that some of those doing the arguing simply hate Muslims being in Europe. Nothing is worth sacrificing free speech for, but it can be tempered so that we do not find ourselves on the side of the bigots. We do not want to be cheering when a woman is forced to undress by armed men.

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Column: In Danny we trust…and never mind that talk of climate change

As published in The Kerryman 07-09-16

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As one might expect, there was a lot of chatter online concerning the recent comments by Danny Healy-Rae TD about man-made climate change. There were more than a few Kerry man jokes made. I was even offered sympathy by people from outside Kerry. They felt sorry for how embarrassed I must’ve felt at a fellow Kerry man saying such things.

Their sympathy was unnecessary. I’ve never been nor will I ever be embarrassed by anything Deputy Healy-Rae says. Not only am I not embarrassed, I am proud to be from the same constituency as Deputy Healy-Rae. He is an enthusiastic champion of two things I hold most dear, democracy and free speech.

He and his brother, between them, garnered 30,000 votes at the last election. That’s almost 40% of those who bothered to vote. Two out of every five people in Kerry, who voted, voted for a Healy Rae. When they speak, their accents are not the only thing Kerry about them. They reflect the considered opinion of the Kerry population. They did not garner such a massive mandate by saying things Kerry people might find disagreeable or controversial.

Kerry people, by and large, have decided that climate change is not something we need concern ourselves with. The cosy Dublin consensus on climate change can content itself with that area contained within the M50.

The smart alecs of the internet can go mind their own business. We’re not having any of that Climate Change down here. Sure it never stops raining anyway, so unless Dublin builds us a roof, we’ll mind our own weather and they can look after theirs.

Deputy Healy-Rae represents the will of Kerry people. To that end he has taken on the hated Dublin doom-merchants. Dublin may claim that 97% of the scientists who study our planet’s climate say man-made climate change is real, but science is a petty thing compared to the opinion of 40% of Kerry people. What need have we of science when we have our opinions? What need have we for science when a man as brave as Deputy Healy-Rae can claim he knows more than 97% of scientists?

I only wish there was an election tomorrow so that the 60% of us who missed out on the opportunity to vote for a Healy-Rae the last time out, can reward his brave resistance to Dublin, scientists and the views expressed by the Pope on the subject of climate.

People, non-Kerry people that is, may mock the apparent hubris of a man who without any scientific background can gainsay the established opinion of so many learned scientists. These non-Kerry people may roll their eyes at a politician telling his voters only what they want to hear. These outsiders may sigh in despair that we people of Kerry are only interested in the facts that allow us to continue living as we’ve always lived. But I say to them that this is democracy, this is free speech.

If scientists offer us uncomfortable truths, then we will fashion our own truths. We will create for ourselves a story that soothes and panders to our preferred vision of reality. And we will find a man ready, willing and able to represent this alternative reality. In Danny Healy Rae TD, we have given living form to our preferred reality and in Danny Healy Rae TD we now trust.

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