How did Hitler and Stalin get brought into the Marriage Referendum debate?

I’m attempting to remain rational, coherent and as always, see at least two sides to an argument.

I’ve failed. Miserably. And I don’t care.

As my colleagues here have already posted; there is a referendum (two actually but I’m focusing on one for now) looming, lurking, skulking like an angry bear with a hangover on the horizon. We’re all entitled to our opinion, to vote as is our want, such is benefit of living in a democratic society. One important point to bear in mind: there is only one way to vote. It has three letters.

I’ve toyed with how to compose my reasoning for this and it’s ranged from the short, “just vote yes for Christ’s sake” to a long winded, rambling discussion. What finally tipped me over the edge to take fingers to keyboard?

THIS….. opinion piece penned in the Irish Times earlier today. (My points in bold italics).

Written: D. Vincent Twomey SVD author of The End of Irish Catholicism?, Moral Theology after Humanae Vitae

Published: Irish Times, 1st May 2015.

The marriage referendum is about changing marriage from a union of a man and a woman into the union of two adults regardless of gender who desire a lifelong commitment. (Anyone who is sure enough of their commitment to chosen partner should be allowed to celebrate it in whatever way they chose. I’m a firm believer in as much choice for people as possible even if I don’t necessarily agree with it).

Up to a few decades ago, the meaning of marriage as the union of two complementary sexes open to procreation has been unquestioned. (Why do people insist on equating marriage with procreating? Fine, the Church’s position is exactly that: no sex before marriage, sex is for procreating only and thou shalt not enjoy a second of the procreating. This viewpoint should have been questioned before now. Can anyone definitively prove to me that Neanderthal Man have marriage? Prove it? My point? They still procreated. Otherwise you wouldn’t be seated in front of your computer screen reading this. Marriage and procreating are not mutually exclusive. Hell, look at the birth statistics of the children born *gasp* out of wedlock) In four weeks’ time, it will be voted on and a majority opinion will determine whether one of the most natural aspects of humanity (Natural? Who decided what’s natural? Maybe it was natural. Lot’s of things that were considered natural or normal are no longer accepted as being natural. We’re human. We’ve evolved from what we once were, this vote, this changing of what’s considered natural, is merely us evolving again. If we don’t evolve we remain stagnant and remaining stagnant will lead to decay, not now but in decades of society as a whole) is going to be changed to suit a certain interpretation of equality. (Everything can be left open to interpretation why do you think we have courts of law? Prosecution and Defence? So both sides can interpret what is already there and build on it. Improve it if needs be).  

As a people, we generally tend to be gentle, humane and loving. (I’m taking it you’ve never read a history book or opened a newspaper in the last 6 months. Or today. Go look up a court case in Edinburgh involving a day old baby. Yes, people are generally gentle and human. Fuck it, go back to last summer and Goggle Tuam, Mass Grave and see where that gets you).  It is to this national characteristic, (funny, I thought we were a country who enjoyed a drink and can’t manage our money) nurtured (not the word I would have chosen to describe my interactions with the Church in primary school) by its underlying Christian ethos, that the current political and media establishment is appealing.

The ‘Yes’ campaign, led by the Government and urged on by the media (while the media is generally meant to remain impartial, in this case the more they urge a yes vote the better) , is appealing to our emotions. (“We’re people, we generally tend to be gentle, humane and loving” remember? Emotions generally come as part of the package. Unless you’re a sociopath) The presentation of equality (you make it sound like equality a front, a face, a mere notion on paperwork and not real)  for persons  (people, not persons. Persons make it sound like you are attempting to dehumanise homosexuals)  who are gay touches the heartstrings of all (sip of condescension anyone?), but especially the older generation. In this writer’s opinion, this has had at least one positive result. It has helped to counter negative attitudes to same-sex people as persons of inherent dignity. Empathy is replacing what was at best nervous distance, at worse real homophobia. And that is good and welcome. (Really? Are you sure you mean that? It doesn’t read as if you do).

But there is an unpleasant undercurrent, that of intimidation. People who, in their heart of hearts, cannot equate same-sex unions with marriage fear being accused of homophobia. The few who dare to express their views in public have experienced an onslaught in social media. (It’s social media, people are allowed to express their opinion. If you don’t want to get feedback, either good or bad, then don’t post to social media). The most intimidated of all seem to be our elected representatives. It is incredible that the political parties have imposed the whip to get their members to support the “Yes” vote. All but one Senator submitted. (You know what, he’s right, people shouldn’t be intimidated. They should stand up for themselves. BUT, wait for it. Our elected representatives are exactly that: OUR elected representatives. We put them there because we thought they would make the best possible decisions for us, our society, our community, our country as a whole. Not just part of it. Not just the bit they liked, or the bit the Bible says is right, or what their conservative highly religious grandmother, grandaunt or father says is right. They are supposed to make decisions that will help us, the country, the community evolve. Right now, that decision is to ensure that every citizen has the right to marriage. If they can’t make that decision, fine, but expect and accept the inevitable consequences).

Is the Catholic hierarchy also intimidated? (They should be)The bishops will be anxious not to turn the referendum into a Church-State issue (too late) or to cause more offence to those most affected (also too late, I want to take a can of spray paint to some of the posters). Some bishops and priests are addressing their faithful directly in church; that is their right and duty. (Grand, I don’t go to Church so I don’t have to hear it) But Church encompasses more than the hierarchy, namely the laity. (Is there more to this point? If there is, where is it? How is or how has the Church so far decided to communicate with the laity?)

Irish people resent being bullied by either Church or State. (I think most people would resent being bullied by anyone but I’ll let this go) Yet, ordinary citizens are being intimidated into voting “Yes”. For over a year, the campaign waged by the Government urged on by the media has been relentless. (Has it? Seriously? Has it been relentless? I’ve only noticed an increase since January) In the final weeks, reason may triumph over emotion (I refer back to my earlier point, we’re a gentle people, emotions rule us even when we don’t want them to) . As they prepare to vote, people will ask, reasonably: what are we being asked to change? The simple answer is: human nature. (Where? Where does it say that allowing two people of the same sex to marry is changing human nature? Eh? The Greeks and Roman’s both indulged broadly speaking, in same sex relationships. I’m also going to repeat a point I wrote earlier: human nature changes. That’s the whole point. We’re not the same as we were 50 years ago, a hundred years ago. We need to change and evolve. This, allowing two people regardless of the sexual preference to marry, to declare that they are more than willingly, nay desire, to be bound together until death is everyone’s right. Who are who to deny that? Who is anyone? What gives you the right to sit behind a keyboard and pontificate as to what human nature truly is?)

This referendum touches the very source of our humanity. (Here we go again, why do I feel we should be engaging in a philosophical debate on what humanity is?) Human rights are at the heart of the Constitution. (Which is what we want to change, that’s why we’re having a referendum) Article 41 recognises the family, based on marriage, as the fundamental unit group in Society. (Keep up, that is the article we want to change to include ALL of society) As such it has rights which are intrinsic to it, which the State is obliged to recognise and protect. (Which the State has done. And in protecting those rights, the State has recognised a flaw, that same sex couples are excluded, they are not recognised and protected. The referendum aims to change that) In other words, the family, which existed before either Church or State existed, not only has a real autonomy within society: it is the ultimate source of society. (Ok, fine family has been the nucleus of society; fly in your argument; if I remember it was a village that raised children. The entire community has a say in past generations, eras as to the instilling of morals and values in a child) . Past and future converge in the family. Through marriage, future generations come into being. (Here we go again. Marriage producing children was the ideal of generations past. You honestly expect me to believe that there was never a bastard child born before? The production of future generations (that sounds so clinical) is truly the preserve of married couples?)  A nation’s culture is passed on primarily through the family. (I would argue that the assimilation into the actual culture of the nation helps to reinforce it and pass it onto future, married produced, generations)  Since the dawn of time, the union (what definition of union) of man and woman was simply assumed (never assume, and never use assumptions in your arguments) to be the origin of the family.  This is what we are being asked to change.

This is not only Church teaching. It is in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, art. 16.3: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” (What is the UN Declaration of “family”) That Declaration was drawn up against the background of two totalitarian regimes: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. (Hitler? Stalin? You’re actually mentioning these two in an attempt to reinforce your argument? You’re obviously not aware of the accepted conceit that once Hitler is mentioned in a discussion on the internet, the discussion is over) In the Soviet Union in particular, Marxist socialism tried to eliminate the family. This trend in Marxism — condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 — was radicalised in Communist China in their “one family, one child” policy.  The family has to be destroyed in order to exercise complete control over the people. The autonomy of the family is one of the bulwarks against every State’s innate tendency to become totalitarian, our own State included. (So the State, through the referendum, is attempting to destroy the current definition of family in order to exert total control over us? That’s a bit extreme isn’t it?)

Though it is not primarily the State that is seeking to redefine marriage and thus the family, our Government is proposing that we introduce a profound contradiction into the heart of the Constitution. Instead of the Constitution’s recognition of the family as having “inalienable and imperceptible rights, (Read the fine print, the courts have also decided that these rights are not absolute) antecedent and superior to all positive law”, the family based on marriage is being made subservient to the State. The notion of inalienable rights is often interpreted in legal circles as rights which one cannot oneself give up but they are in fact rights which are not given by the State; the State is under obligation to protect them. These non-negotiable rights are the measure of all positive law — legislative or constitutional – because they arise from our common human nature, created by God. This is recognised by Article 6 of the Irish Constitution, which states that “All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people”. The moral demands of our common human nature are known through conscience, the voice of God in our heart of hearts, if we but listen to it.

Just vote “yes”.

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How did Hitler and Stalin get brought into the Marriage Referendum debate?

Where I bash (verbally) a Bishop.

Bit of a misleading title I’ll admit, but after a 10 minute rant whereby my blood pressure increased several points; the future currently very much hypothetical grandchildren will not be setting a foot inside a Catholic (or any religious run) school, state or primary.
And if the Future Children ever, ever do not attack (verbally of course), statements as uttered by the Right Honourable Bishop with the same vim and vigour as yours truly; I will wrack my brain to think of a suitable punishment.

Now, to the point at hand. I could spend the next 30 minutes typing out a well thought out piece, seeing both sides, yada yada yada. I won’t. In my liberal mind, there is “no other side” to this argument. To my brain, in this matter, all other opinions are wrong. No discussion.

To the radio presenter in question; for the love of God, when presented with an idiotic argument such as this; verbally shoo the person until they are curled in a ball in the corner, sucking their thumb and crying “Mummy” in a decidedly pitiful manner.
Yes, I am perfectly aware they are under constraints of broadcasting standards, but still: stupid argument trumps broadcasting standards.

What has gotten my knickers in a twist this evening? This…. this piece of tripe as reported by The Irish Independent. Honestly, I don’t know which is worse: the Bishop, Newstalk (which I didn’t hear, I was trying to sort out a troupe of Germans this morning) or The Independent “reporter”.

My thoughts on the piece are in bold italics for your amusement or horror. All complaints that I refuse to acknowledge the points posed by those against Same Sex Marriage can be sent to: PO Box 1234, The recipient loves Malteasers, WordPress.

The Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran liken the termination of a foetus to that of killing a terminally ill patient, adding that “to kill another human being is always sinful”.

How? Please explain this viewpoint. A terminally ill patient is going to die eventually. That’s the definition of the word terminal. A child may or may not die. Ultimately we are all going to die. So there is a point to be made that we are all terminally ill. However, I view that as a tad too pessimistic and therefore take the medically definition of terminal . But to compare the termination of a foetus to that of the killing of a terminally ill patient makes no sense. And since when do we kill terminally ill patients in this country (aside from leaving them on trolleys or failing to diagnose curable disease on time. I also reserve the right, if ever faced with someone trying to kill me; to kill them first.

“The child is still a human being, you don’t destroy a life in order to get back at the mother’s rapist,” he said.

I’ve been raped. I can do whatever the fuck I want. End of discussion.

Speaking to mark the first day of the Spring Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Doran told Newstalk Breakfast that it was not for him to pass judgement on those women who had travelled to the UK seeking terminations.

“It is between them and God, it isn’t a matter for public debate,” he said when questioned on whether they had committed a ‘sin’.

By passing such a comment, you are indeed passing judgement on them. Ass. (Did the radio presenter not call him on this???)

Asked about his view on abortions in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities, he said that “to suggest that the life of the child should be terminate because it will not live is to suggest that there’s no value to that life.”

It’s a fatal abnormality. The clue is in the medical term. Fatal. By all accounts any parent faced with the decision and opts to proceed with a medical termination (this is what I call it, it’s not an abortion), absolutely values the life of that child. 

Bishop Doran was speaking in the context of the upcoming referendum on same sex marriage, which he said, if passed, would undermine other marriages in Ireland.

HOW?

He’s accused the government of trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes, saying that the term “marriage equality” was misleading.

‘The legislation that the Government is introducing seems primarily focused about making it possible for people in various different relationships to have children.’

From what I can recall in my age addled brain, it’s TWO SEPARATE PIECES OF LEGISLATION. The Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 and the referendum on same sex marriage which will change the definition of marriage in the Constitution. Fuck sake, if you’re going to spout nonsense at least work with some facts, oh wait, you’re spouting nonsense…..

Bishop Doran said that the Church was “not interested in judging the emotional bond or care people have for each other”  Is this not part of Catholicism? Did I not listen to “Jesus says we should love everyone” for 8 years of primary school? but that, when it came to marriage and children, the discussion was about “two relationships, one of which, by its very definition, is about the rising of children, while the other is not,” he said.

So marriage is not related to children and children are not related to marriage? Grand, you can have marriage without kids, and kids without marriage but somehow I don’t think that was your point was it Bishop, hmmmm? What exactly was your point? I’ve been piecing together German translated to English all day and it made more sense than this statement.

When it was put to him that some gay people in Ireland already have children, Bishop Doran said: “They may have children, but you see this is the point, people who have children are not necessarily parents.

SO WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY THEN? Aliens? Gremlins? Elves?

The Bishop of Elphin also expressed his belief that “the jury’s out” on whether people are born gay, although he acknowledged he is was not an expert.

No shit Sherlock; are you an expert in anything?

Where I bash (verbally) a Bishop.

MacIntyre did not chose wisely.

Media is perception. Media is PR.

Oh how I am loathe typing the above sentences. There is no denying it. There is no news story that reaches your eyes and ears that hasn’t been tailored to extract the maximum reaction from the target audience. If it’s in print media, sub-editors eagerly thumb through their battered thesaurus to ensure the headline is the shortest and eye-catching – the headline often does not reflect the content of the article; it’s merely words in bold print with the sole objective of drawing you in.

Newspaper articles have a simple structure: get the majority of the information in the first 4 paragraphs. Why? People don’t have time to read an entire article on the train, in the bus or during their work breaks. A sad fact but one which the red tops have mastered – their stories rarely reach the length of their wordier cousins, the broadsheets, the tabloids are operating under the assumption that people want, and there is no other way to say this, the “tits and ass” version of the news.

If you add the fact that no two people see the same event in the same way then you will never get a clear picture of what occurred, unless you have the time and inclination to read every article published on the event in question. Of course such an endeavour is impossible; we have other events clamouring for our attention.

The person with the best PR team, those with the most contacts in the newsroom can get their side of the story out quicker thus setting the perception of the readers before the other side can, as is their right, get their point across. However, subconsciously our minds have been set on a certain path by the first wave of information presented to us.

I do have a point.

Donal MacIntyre presented his view of Limerick in “that documentary” broadcast by TV3 the other night. His view was sanctioned by various higher ups, including the “Money Men”. Their decision to sanction funds for MacIntyre to develop and film that programme was based on how much revenue in advertising it would generate. How much of a social media footprint would it leave? It’s even generated follow up news stories today while he was filming the second programme which is focusing on Dublin.

I’m not absolving MacIntyre – he would have pitched the format, story outline etc. to his superiors. He knew what he was going to film. He wasn’t going to aim for a fully balanced, in-depth (how in-depth can a documentary one hour in duration be?) examination of the legacy of crime in Limerick. He would have been aiming for what made his editors tick.

I should issue a disclaimer here: I did not watch it. I saw the headlines; I heard the mutterings before it was aired (mutterings spurred by cleverly planted articles before airing with the single purpose of inciting a reaction from people, to get them to watch; the higher the ratings and better for the bottom line) and I chose not to watch it. Not because I was disgusted, or out of a sense of pride that I didn’t want to see my home-town portrayed in a derogatory manner. I didn’t watch it because I didn’t want to. It’s a personal thing: sensational journalism is not my thing. The older I get the more I prefer my news to be as balanced as possible, which means I read several sources for articles; yes, as mentioned above, it is time consuming but my choice.

He didn’t do Limerick justice. That much, even without watching, is clear. We can’t undo the documentary; the question is what do we do now?

Do we sit behind our keyboards, our microphones, our Twitter handles and continue to focus on what MacIntyre did? Some quarters may be satisfied with this. It will only feed the cycle, the next documentary about Limerick, and there will be more, will have the same focus and the same reaction.

We need to court the media. We need to woo them, seduce them. We need to go on a PR offensive. Ditch the defensive reaction. Make the Dublin-based media them see that they are the ones who have the wrong perception (yes, perception is subjective so it can’t, technically, be wrong but it can change) of Limerick.

It’s not the easy course – nothing worthwhile ever is. It is the course that will produce the best legacy for Limerick in the long term.

RTE Radio broadcast from Limerick. Today FM and Newstalk should be encouraged to do the same. Newstalk have studios in Cork city. They should be actively pursued to do the same here; if the journalists are here they can actually see what’s going on. UTV Ireland will have a studio based in Radio House on the Dock Road from where evening news reports will be made. It is up to the journalist – Eric Clarke to ensure that the stories are balanced. Given that he’s been working with Live 95FM for a number of years we’re already off to a good start.

Our reaction to the lack of coverage last September to Giant Granny resulted in an apology from RTE; we need more situations like this. Sky Sports commentators who are in Thomond Park always have a good word to say about the hospitality they receive when they are here.

We need to get more gigs in Limerick (I’m not saying that for purely selfish reasons); artists need to know where here; we need to be given a chance to show how good of an audience we really are. Artists always tweet post-gig about the reaction of the audience.

It sounds so simple but it’s the simple things that make the difference.

C’mon Limerick, it’s up to you now. Don’t do a MacIntyre on it.

MacIntyre did not chose wisely.

What women don’t want.

I don’t want quotas. Enda Kenny may want them. Other women may want them. I don’t.  I think it’s a farcical idea. It’s an insult to women.

In my mind it’s akin to a harried husband saying “yes pet” to his wife while she’s listing out the domestic chores he must complete on a Saturday afternoon while remembering to load the dishwasher.

Enda and his cohorts are saying “Look love, you don’t have the balls (pun most definitely intended) to get to what we consider the top echelons of so were going to make it easy for you”. He’s even going to throw in some media training so you look and sound good to the public. See, ladies, he’ll even make you pretty.

The quota issue has been brought front-and-centre by an article in the Independent this last weekend leaking Kenny’s “secret list of women to win the next general election”.

The quotas are not just limited to political parties; boards of various museums and charities are in on the action and have been for some time. They have to be, the legislation states that if they don’t have a balance they’ll lose part of their State funding.

As always, the intention is good, the mindset is in the correct place but, as is an all- too-common trait emanating from our seat of power, the major fault lies in the implementation.

What message is Kenny sending to the coming generations of women by ensuring that there are a certain percentage of women in positions of power purely based on quotas? It is a dangerous precedent to set, “Don’t work ladies, the quota will get you in”. 

On one hand I can see why Kenny List of Ladies is taking the opportunity of being fast tracked for the next general election. I’m sure they think that any opportunity must be grabbed eagerly with both hands (it should) and that they can change perceptions from the inside (possibly). The larger part of me is ashamed of them for grabbing the opportunity so eagerly.

I may be taking a major liberty but I’ll speak for some if not the larger majority of women when I say that we don’t want anything handed to us on a plate. I may grumble after a particularly difficult day that I wish it could be easier, that there was a quicker way to rise through the ranks to where I want to be; when I take a minute I realise this isn’t true. I want to take the more challenging path; I want people to know that I’ve worked hard to get where I am. 

What of the current crop of female T.D.’s? Those women worked, they weathered the criticism thrown at them, and they’ve survived. What do they think of the younger generation’s “helping hand?”

What of the men? We have legislation ensuring there is no sexual discrimination in hiring policies or the workplace; this for the most part has been used to protect women (my feelings on the female rights landscape in this country are another issue entirely), but in the future could it be used to protect men against quotas?

The media are currently shouting misogyny at every opportunity. If a political party has two candidates for a seat and the man is clearly the more qualified, perhaps the more likely to secure the votes, but the woman gets the seat, what is that going to do to the male psyche?

This, allowing for a certain level of hyperbole, giving a job to a lesser qualified female, is only going to breed a misogynist culture. This in turn will only serve to toughen the stance of the hardcore feminists, those that appear to hate men for no reason other than the fact that they are men; which is only going to perpetuate the cycle for generations to come.

Enda Kenny and whoever succeeds him, be it next week, next year or in 2016, needs to address the issue from a school level.

Address the issue of involvement in politics across both genders. It’s been a long-held position for me that those entering the political arena should have minimum relevant educational qualifications. This needs to be impressed on both sexes.

What is it going to do to the female psyche hearing discussions on feminism in one class and learning of quotas benefitting them in another? Yes, the issues of quotas is only supposed to be a temporary measure, but let’s fact it, this is Ireland; we’re not the best at sticking to timelines and quotas could still be here when my grandchildren are teenagers.

Classes should be taught to reflect the achievements of both men and women. Yes, I know that the majority of historical decisions were as a result of men but take a class to celebrate what women did. Plant a seed in the minds; the curious ones will investigate further and these are the ones we want taking control.

Women do have a lot to give in any position of power, we think differently, we are more empathic and sometimes we can be more ruthless than our male counterparts.

Foster these qualities and you won’t need legislation to guarantee our place past the glass ceiling. 

What women don’t want.