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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Youth Defense can suck my Pro-Choice Uterus!

 For those of you that don't know who Youth Defense are they are best described as a militant and sometimes violent anti-abortion group operating in Ireland, Belgium, Spain and Australia.

I call them anti-abortion as opposed to "pro life", as they like to refer to themselves, for a few reasons:

  1. They have no respect for the life of the woman/couple with the always life altering and sometimes life threatening unwanted pregnancy.
  2. If they cared so much about life where are their anti-war posters? Or anti-death penalty posters? Why are they not donating all of their funds to preventing the spread of HIV or curing cancer or fuding humanitarian aid projects?
  3. Their definition of human life and my own are somewhat different!
The reason I and so many people are outraged by these advertisements and bill boards, is not because they are anti-abortion...after all we live in a country where we are generally free to express our opinons (except when it comes to religion of course _ blasphemy law). The outrage felt and expressed is fueled by the blatant lies these posters tell! 

In his article in the Irish Times on Friday 29th June, David Robert Grimes went into detail about a number of studies carried out on the psychological impact abortion has on women with good mental health pre-termination. All of the studies were conclusive....each finding that "there was no difference in mental health between those who opted for abortion and those who carried to term but there was a markedly increased risk to mental health for women who gave a child up for adoption." Irish Times Article 29th June 2012.
I would imagine that the only mental anguish felt by women terminating an unwanted pregnancy might be a feeling of guilt in those women brought up or living in a community that teaches the evils of abortion!

I can understand why Youth Defense took hold of the idea that abortion causes mental anguish and ran with it, as there is a generally held assumption that abortion is traumatic. Of course the process can be unpleasant but the only real trauma is physical for the vast majority of women...It's not like these women rock up to an abortion clinic on a whim..especially if they live in the good aul Republic of Ireland. They will have to get the signatures of two doctors (not always easy),book flights to the UK, accommodation and probably save/borrow money and book time off work. These are not the actions of someone who has not been decisive or is unsure! These are not the actions of a person who thinks that aborting a pregnancy is going to be more traumatic than having your entire life turned upside down by an ejaculation, faulty condom or that rather scary 2% ineffectiveness of oral contraceptives! 
You ask most women that have terminated pregnancies if they regret it and you will hear a great big resounding "absolutely not!" So the bill boards should never have been allowed based on misinformation alone!

As individuals and as a society on the whole we need to address our underlying belief that abortion is wrong. I'm not going to get into the whole debate on whether a foetus is human life or not...everyone has heard these arguments before and while the argument in support of the right to choose is based on fact, those in opposition time and time again demonstrate their lack of respect for factual information!   I will say this, however,(and perhaps Caitlin Moran said it WAY better in her book "How to Be a Woman")  if abortion can bring relief, free women from slavery to their bodies, undo a mistake, prevent a child from being unwanted, and save someone a lifetime of regret surely it is a positive thing! the decision to have a termination is more often based on logic than not and anyone faced with the physical reality of an abortion is unlikely to make that decision lightly....The argument in favour of a woman's right to choose is a logical one. Why is an abortion any different to any other medical procedure a person has to address a condition that is life altering? 

the answer is obvious...anything that the religious fundies get a bee in their bonnet about has to be treated with kid gloves! Something like this that should be a private matter and a very personal decision is made illegal by government meaning women do not have sovereignty over our own bodies! Think about it! Our own bodies!!! Until women have sovereignty over our own wombs and vaginas we will never truely be emancipated! Not allowing women the right to choose is basically saying we have no right to choose what does and does not get to live inside our bodies! Put it like that to most men will think of the Alien films which may prompt even the most reluctant male to come out as  raging feminists and pro choicers if they're not already overtly so! Just because the jumble of cells that form a fetus has the potential to become human life does not mean it is. At this stage of life there is little difference between a human fetus and that of other mammals!...animals that these anti-abortion protestors probably went and fed on when they were starving after yet another hugely offensive and misleading protest! 

By refusing to make abortion lawful in this country our government is institutionalising inequality and those bill-boards are a great big advertisement for the Youth Defense's demands for the continued subjugation of women. Why should the beliefs of these fundamentalists get preference over ours? Why do beliefs so irrelevant to our own determine what we can and cannot do with our own bodies? Surely the best thing to do is legalise and allow this decision to be made by individuals. If abortion is an answer for you...great! you would have that option...if it's not for you...well great!... it's not like you have to have an abortion just because it's legal!

So in short...these abhorrent bill-boards and advertisements are misleading, manipulative, deceitful, sexist,  and downright wrong! Abortion does not "tear her life apart",organisations like Youth Defense may though! Abortion frees her and empowers her! Where's that bill-board?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Better the Devil You Know...

Continuing on from what I was blogging last week I've been looking into alternatives to capitalist democracy. If ( and no one has disagreed with me here)there is no freedom for the average joe in our current system then how do we address that? 

Our governments have presented us with the myth that capitalism is a system in crisis....that the open market is in turmoil and WE all have to make sacrifices to fix the problem.  Yup ya read that right...myth... Capitalism is aaaalllll about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. So this is capitalism working...this is what is supposed to happen. So it's not capitalism that is in crisis it is the workers, the working and middle classes, that are in crisis.

Surely this global recession is evidence enough that capitalism has never been the friend of democracy. Surely this demonstrates that democracy would work better without capitalism but people are afraid of the alternative. People are always afraid of change, particularly in Ireland..."better the devil ya know"...seems to be the dominant attitude towards change to our economy and system of government.  The Republic of Ireland was founded as a social democracy. Where's the social bit gone?  The current government seems to perceive the constituion as more of a hindrance and something to be got around than something to uphold and protect. They favour the profits of big business over the welfare of average citizens.

I love the way iceland have dealt with a similar situation. They are rewriting their consitution and its being done by ordinary people. If they can do it why can't we??? They are calling it "an exercise in direct democracy."  The people of Iceland believe that if there had been a real division of power the economic melt down they experienced in 2008 may not have happened. How many of us feel the same way about the Irish government? The Icelandic story is very similar to our own. They have a population of only about 320,000 but I think we're a small enough country for direct democracy to work. Hell, with a bit of organisation it could work in any country. It's all about giving the power back to the citizens, let them make the decisoins, then have the information filtered up through different levels of representation as opposed to the system we have now where the opposite seems to happen. Doesn't that make more sense?

Ya know the places where people are happieset are where the gap between rich and poor is the smallest. If normal people were the decision makers that gap would be sure to close. Countries should measure their economic success in happiness and the welfare of their citizens...not by GDP, which to you and I is just a number.

But...Irish people do not like change...they do not like to rock the boat..."Ah sure..Fuck it" should be the national motto and hey I'm an advocator of "if is ain't broke don't fix it"...but we are broke....very broke...piss poor...boom and bust, boom and long are we supposed to fool ourselves into thinking that everything will be fine? If we continue on this path there is no question of "if" Ireland will be bankrupt it will only be a question of "when".  So what have we got to lose? 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"There are only two kinds of freedom...

the freedom of the rich and powerful, and the freedom of the artist and the monk who renounces possessions."
Anais Nin, 

So whats the realistic option here for the vast majority of us in these ,here British Isles and, more specifically, in the now destroyed Republic of Ireland? 

I've been thinking a lot this week about democracy...and what it has become and I've come to the conclusion that the above quote is true.

Democracy generally exists hand in hand with capitalism. Even in our democratic countries there is no such thing as freedom unless you are rich and poweful or opt out of the system entirely. Unless you have the means to take your money offshore using one of the many oh so convenient loopholes...the governmnet can take as much of your money as they want as can your employer. The government can give all the public money to the banks and demand more from your pocket...Your employer can impose pay cuts even when they are still making enormous profits and I know people that have had their salaries cut by up to 45%...

You earn as much as you are allowed to earn.

I'm not just talking about money here...although I'm gonna come back to that in a bit...I'm talking about our rights too. Look at the Patriot Act in the U.S.A., anti-terrorist acts in the U.K. and the anti-blasphemy laws in Ireland not to mention the governments hired thugs a.k.a. the Garda Siochana.  

Fear and greed and ambition...that's what it all boils down to and the more our leaders are infected with these the more we will suffer. Everyone says that Communism is a great idea on paper. The Communust Manifesto is a work of genius but it fails to take human nature into consideration. Well the same thing applies to democracy. It's a great idea on paper but it does not take human nature into matter how fair you make the system...those with money will always have the power...

Of course we have to keep trying to make our systems of government fairer, but having witnessed what happened with the British General Election and knowing exactly what is going to happen with the Irish General Election, it is painfully obvious that there isn't a political party that represents a fair and honest manifesto. A two party or a two and a half party race isn't gonna cut it anymore. What we need is constitutional reform and a decentralisation of power.

I honestly think Ireland needs to wave goodbye to the Euro and go back to good aul fashioned punts. I know all too well that whatever currency we will be left with will be as valuable as a snowball but screw the ECB. If we're not part of the single currency they will have to mind their own bloody business and there really is no need for the IMF to be involved. As Paul Krugman said in yesterdays NY Times:
"You might have expected those who lent money to the banks to share in the losses. After all, they were consenting adults, and if they failed to understand the risks they were taking that was nobody’s fault but their own. But, no, the Irish government stepped in to guarantee the banks’ debt, turning private losses into public obligations....These debts were incurred, not to pay for public programs, but by private wheeler-dealers seeking nothing but their own profit. Yet ordinary Irish citizens are now bearing the burden of those debts"

Surely the most logical, fair and grown up thing to do about all this would be to close loopholes and bring all wealth back to Ireland. Seize the assets of those known to have caused this crisis (even if they have transferred everything into their wive's names), sell them and use the money to reduce national debt. At this stage it's not gonna cover everthing but it would severely reduce the debt burden on tax payers. But no....the lord of the manor doesn't want to piss off his friends so us poor serfs have to pay the price. Taking a €1 off minimum wage will take a huge amount of money out of the economy and could lead to social welfare cuts of up to €40 a week. Which would be devastating to all of the 450,000 people depending on it at the moment. There is no jobs strategy either. How stupid are they?

 The long and short of it is that we are paying the debts of the super wealthy and refinancing European banks through our tax and our pensions and with our sovereignty, our jobs and even the food on our tables and there isn't a political party that is likely to get into power that will do anything about it. So ya see there is no real freedom...we are all slaves to the system unless we change it. I want to change it...I think the Socialist Party do as well but they haven't the support unfortunately and don't get the kind of donations from big business that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael get...see...the system is poisoned with it.

The protest march today was a great success, with numbers exceeding 100,000. The restrained anger amongst the crowd was palpable and contagious. Fintan O'Toole Said "Irish people are not subjects, but citizens, and want their republic back" He also declared the death of democracy in Ireland due to unelected representatives selling our sovereignty to try to save the elite of Irish society. I think he just summed up the feelings of an entire nation.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Good Life

Has anyone else been watching "Sue and Giles live the Good Life" on BBC2 on Monday evenings?  It's really good. Funny and that order. The good life and self sufficiency are things that seem to be appealing  to me more and more.  I want an allotment, I want chickens, I want to make goats cheese with old tights and milk I squeezed from a goat udder myself! I'm sure I'm not the only I? Please say I'm not! 

Opting out appears to becoming more and more popular and who can blame people? The last time allotmenting and self sufficiency were so in vogue was during the 1970s in the UK when the three day week was introduced, "stagnation" was a word commonly used  in economist circles and the nation was plagued by powercuts. (sounds familiar doesn't it)

The next budget day in Ireland is on the 7th of December. If, what we have been told is going to be announced is true then this household alone will be €354 worse off a year! I'm not going to tell you what that is a percentage of our income...but lets just say it's a lot, as it's no secret that I am STILL "on de dole". That, unfortunately, is probably only slightly higher than the average Irish household. That figure is based on proposed cuts to "me dole" and the proposed property tax and water rates.So how are households supposed to abosrb that? Call me stark raving mad if ya want but taking  €350 out of the coffers of the average Irish family that is just scraping by would mean them falling behind on mortgage payments, or not being able to heat their homes, or provide a nutritous diet for how is this going to help matters?

See, If people can't pay their mortgage then the banks aren't getting their money. In order to get their money they will have to employ a legal service to recover their money and put another family out of their home, which would then mean ANOTHER empty house on the market and another family needing social housing, driving the price of property even lower, which then reduces the amount of money a person pays in property tax so the government lose they then up the percentage paid in property tax and more people can't ya see where I'm going with this?

The Poor Can't Pay Campaign have set out 10 reasons why Job Seekers Benefit should not be cut.  The average person receiving this payment falls short by over €62. This figure was calculated before the last 4% cut. another 5% cut would see that figure more than double. So that would mean more people looking for social housing, needing emergency housing...and all of this would have to be funded by tax payers. In the Blanchardstown area alone there are over 5,400 people on the social housing register. This figure will only grow in the coming months and years if the proposed cuts are implemented. They have set out ten reasons to protect child benefit, which is also up for the chop and to protect the elderly and minimum wage. Every single point they make is completely valid.

Once again this government is targeting the poorest sections of society. St Vincent de Paul are really struggling with a rapidly increasing number of people relying on their services. how many more people are they going to put on the bread line (or below it at this stage)? Poverty is very real in our wealthy country.  When the Celtic Tiger was at its peak in 2006  a study  found that the level of wealth distribution in Ireland was among the lowest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  They  had ranked Ireland 27th out of its 30 member countries when it comes to so-called "social transfers".Social transfers are the redistributions of wealth to poorer sections of society through social welfare or pension payments.The percentage of transfers in Ireland is 15.8%, compared to 31.3% in Sweden, where the level of transfers is highest. This figure has actually decreased over the past three years meaning  the gap between rich and poor is growing rapidly.

So the good life definitely sounds appealing. opting out and flipping those arseholes in goverment the bird. Someone get me a shovel and some horse shit. You'll find lots of it spouting from the mouths of our elected representatives.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Protest Cancer

We've had a fortnight punctuated with student protests in both Ireland and the UK.  

There were some small "scuffles" at both protests, which the media and the powers that be blew out of all proportion (to serve their own purposes, no doubt.) Yes...I know...I'm "a bleeding heart liberal"...or at least that's what I've been called. (I think they meant it as an insult, but I took it as a complement coming from someone I'd consider to be an elitist arsehole), but even a bleeding heart liberal can apply logic and critically assess a situation like that.  I could understand the Garda using force when they are greeted with force, but when people are sitting on the ground protesting peacefully there is no need to beat them with batons.  

We've had minor success in Ireland. Registration fees will not go beyond €2000 but that's only for this year. Are they just delaying the really, REALLY bad news ? or does this prove that civil disobedience works?

Unfortunately legal protest only works when the intended audience is willing to listen. Do we think the Con-Dems and Fianna Fail are really that willing to listen? Both parties are willing to take money from the poorest of the poor to keep their "buddies" onside.  The Tories are traditional the party of the landed gentry. There are 18 millionaires in their current cabinet of 23 ministers.

Fianna Fail are looking at slashing benefits and I seriously doubt any of them could survive on less than €196 a week especially once property tax and water charges are introduced. 

The British Government is full of old public school boys from wealthy backgrounds. They have NEVER had to exist on the breadline or go without.  They have also just announced welfare reforms in the UK that would see countless millions lose any rights to benefits after 2 years of being unemployed. Currently there are only 500,000 job vacancies in the UK. The sums just do not add up. Will people do anything about it though?

I don't deny that people have tried to tackle our governments on such issues but there has not been anywhere near enough public support nor enough co-hessian between protesting organisations. Time and time again it seems that apathy is the greatest ally of those that would see our countries in a "race to the bottom". It is the cancer of protest. It slowly eats away at its power. We see the power of the French unions and we see how often French workers protest and the scale on which they protest. We also cannot fail to see that they have way more rights and a much better work/life balance than we poor schmucks do!

The French seem to have civil disobedience down to a fine art, but is there a place for it in the UK and Ireland? Is it effective?  There are so many protests outside the Dáil that cause little or no disruption. There is no incentive for the cabinet to listen. Civil disobedience can be a useful tool, but only when it's organised and en-masse. Scuffles with police/garda will only result in peaceful protesters being attacked. (as we have witnessed)  It is one of the many ways people have rebelled against what they deem to be unfair laws. 

Thoreau's 1848 essay "Civil Disobedience" has given practitioners of civil disobedience their blue print. Thoreu's driving idea behind the essay was that citizens are morally responsible for their support of aggressors, even when such support is required by law. (He did not pay tax as a way of protesting against slavery and the Mexican/American war.)

He famously said: "If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders."

forms of civil disobedience, such as illegal boycotts, refusals to pay taxes, and sit-ins, make it more difficult for a system to function.  It has been noted by a number of academic studies on the matter, (details of which can be supplied if needed) that  it may be necessary to apply limited forms of this kind of coercion to get the particular issue on the table for discussion. 

The Garda beating up those students were obviously taking orders and the orders were to quell civil disobedience now before people think they can get away with it. Kicking a garda's riot shield is not the same as a Garda hitting a protester with a baton on his face, head and bare skin! If witnessing that is not enough to get your blood boiling enough to get out there and protest then I don't know what will... 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sitting on the Ecclesiastical Fence

Hello lovlies, it's been a while since I've blogged. I've found that Facebook groups and Twitter seem to be a better way at raising awareness about issues that concern me, but there are so many things I am compelled to expand on beyond my 140 characters on Twitter and the boredom limit on Facebook.

Recently I have existed in an almost permanent state of outrage, which hasn't been good for my health, nor has it been good for the soft wrinkle prone areas around my eyes. It has been good,however, for the manufactureres of generic ibuprofen as well as the people that produce Olay anti wrinkle products (although I've hear Hemeroid cream works wonders and is cheap as chips in comparison)

So instead of reading my usual paper or newsweek or anything likely to make my blood boil I bought an Irish fashion magazine. I was flicking through it, pleasently not engaging a single brain cell and here was an opinion piece on whether faith features in the lives of twenty somethings in Ireland. I generally pay little heed to these things in that sort of publication, but this magazine has a large and influential readership and it was more or less advocating sitting on the fence with regards defecting from the Catholic Church. Now...thats all fine and good...everyone has their reasons...but when the reason is, and I quote " [not] because I disagree with the church's view on contraception, nor is it solely the corruption, scandals and cover-ups, or even it's old fashioned values. It's not just because I live with my boyfriend "in sin" or because I don't attend mass. It's all of the above with the BIGGEST reason of all... I just don't feel any personal connection to the church...while belonging [feels] odd the thought of not belonging felt even stranger." well that's when the blood starts boiling again I'm afraid.
What I can't understand is how this woman can disregard EVERYTHING that she disagrees with because "not belonging" would feel strange. Call me naive if ya want but does the cover up of the habitual abuse of children not make you feel strange? How about the churches position on contraception making the fight against AIDS in africa 100 times more difficult ?
Or maybe just someone wholely unconnected to you believing they have a right to pass judgement on your personal life?

I can understand people not wanting to defect for family reasons perhaps, or because they are really afraid that there is a vengeful god and firey pits in hell. Personally I can't understand how anyone can still consider the Catholic Church to be a credible moral compass when one considers the absolute tripe that seems to spew without consideration from the mouth of the current pontiff and the other sith... clergy, but that's for each person to decide I suppose.

BUT...and this is the point of this whole thing...and it's a Huuuuuuge BUT ( so big, infact, Sir Mixalot couldn't resist it) this magazine is a glossy aimed at young, imancipated, working women. It has articles on sex, contraception, underwear, work environments... yadda yadda yadda. It is ultimately a post feminist-ish mag yet this article is encouraging young women to ignore the opportunity they have (well...had..but we'll get to that in a bit) to reduce the power and influence of this sexist, backwards institution. An institution that the womens liberation movement had to fight tooth and nail for every millimetre of progress made.Trailblazers such as Mary Robinson were instrumental and we elected her president of our nation twice and would have elected her again if she was allowed serve more than two terms. (She fought for the legalisation of contraception and divorce in this country.)
If all of the disillusioned and non-believing citizens of Ireland were to defect they would significantly reduce the power that this archaic institution still holds over Irish society, including it's government and it's policies (don't get me started on the blasphemy law). The Catholic Church claims to represent the majority of Irish people, which I think we all know isn't true in this day and age. The reason they can claim this, however, is because they base their numbers on baptismal records. So ya see it's VITAL that you defect if you don't believe in Catholicism and the infallibilty of the pope.

Unfortunately for us and conveniently for the Catholic Church, they have (all of a sudden) discovered a problem with the canon law that sets out the procedure for defection from the church. have had to suspend their services because, while this law is under review there is NO official way to defect, meaning it is not possible to leave the catholic church for the foreseeable future. If the revisions of this "law" go ahead it will nulify a large number of catholic marraiges (due to one or more partner defecting and then being rebaptised in order to marry in the church).It's obvious why this particular "law" is under review and it's disgusting to think that they would nullify people's marragies for that reason.

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are some of the most basic civil rights we expect in a developed country and they are both freedoms that have been taken away this year by the Catholic Church and it's puppets in government. Maybe it's just me but it seems inappropriate for a fashion magazine to advocate apathy about an issue such as this. The article was published without any research being conducted and the ignorance of the writer and the editor was shamefully obvious. Self publishing in ignorance is barely admissable. Giving yourself the authority to write about something so important and not doing your research is not, whether it is an opinion piece or not. An opinion needs to be backed up with reason to be respected.

on the other hand I wonder if the writer had written a more hard hitting piece but it fell victim to the editing process and the editor was running scared of the dreaded Blasphemy law. That would also make sense, especially when you consider Ireland fell 9 place in the 2010 World Press Freedom Index.

I think from now on if I want to quiet the outrage wizzing around my head all periodicals will have to be banned.

Friday, January 8, 2010

There seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding among some people about the campaign to have the blasphemy law revoked.

The campaign is not trying to stop people believing in god, nor is that the reason for the 25 blasphemous quotes.

The purpose of the campaign is protect our freedom of speech and expression and the freedom of speech and expression in the media which is essential for the survivial of an open , multi-cultural, progressive democracy.

I understand that some people need religion, I understand that people want to believe in something, but if those beliefs and the written doctrine of that faith somehow offend  the beliefs of another then this is where things could get really messy.

Atheist Ireland have taken on the campaign, not because they  hate all organised religion (they're probably not fans I grant you) but as humanists, or as people intent on making our state more secular and rational in it's law making and legislative processes and working towards a fairer society.

We cannot ignore the taking of a civil liberty, no matter how little we think it will effect us. Governments left unchecked will do whatever they want once elected. They need to be sent a message that this is unacceptable. It is not up to them to interpret or change the meaning of an article of OUR constitution without putting it to the people. Changing the meaning is just the same as changing the article and they cannot do that without a referendum.

I wonder how the Government can give time to listen to the ridiculous proposals of Mr Dermot Ahern and then  take so long to pass laws that protect children? They are protecting  the monsters that harm them with this new law. Surely their priorities are all wrong! And this is the major issue!

If we lived in a more rational secular society where government is not influenced by the church or anyone else's self serving agendas,  issues such as child protection would be dealt with more rationally and more effectively.

I hope more people will champion their rights, protect the vulnerable, not the powerful and require fairness and justice from those they elect to govern their country. If not we could suffer the same fate as the people of Italy and the United States.

That's all I want. I don't think that's silly or worthy of ridicule, nor do I see the need to get nasty about it and brings things down to a petty or personal level.

This is really important to me and I would appreciate the support of all my family and friends.

Thank you.