LAST week, during the Dáil debate on abortion legislation, which at times became raucous, Fine Gael TD, Kate O’Connell (businesswoman, pharmacist, and mother of three’) jeered at the pro-life advocates on the other side of the House. ‘We won. Ye lost … It must be hurting ye,’ she shouted derisively.
Implicit in Ms O’Connell’s remarks was the disappointing reality that her scholarly, penetrating and thoughtful contribution did not enhance the principles of parliamentary debate by one iota.
Nor did her eloquence promote the idea that Dáil proceedings should be conducted in a proper manner and with an orderly consideration of all matters worthy of consideration.
Indeed, astute observers could discern a kind of parallel with the emotions and behaviour of fans at a soccer match who, on seeing their opponents lose in the last seconds of the game, for a bit of fun kick a punctured football at the captain of the losing team. If he’s close enough, they’ll follow that up by taking a swipe at him with a rotten haddock, fishwife style.
Interestingly, Ms O’Connell’s exuberant triumphalism contrasted with the measured response from her political sidekick, Health Minister Simon Harris. Oily he might be, yes, but on this occasion he spoke plainly and did well. He ‘thanked those people who recognised the need for our (abortion) discourse to be respectful of different views, and of the sensitivities involved, particularly for those who have experienced termination of pregnancy.’
Crawl through sewer
Sadly, nobody took much notice. The shouting continued, which prompted Offaly TD, Carol Nolan, to sigh in desperation. ‘Not one part of the debate has been civilised,’ she complained to any nice person who’d listen.
Meanwhile the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which had been watching events with interest, seemed to come to the conclusion that the Fine Gael abortion debate was little better than a crawl through a sewer. They complained that the voices of those who voted against abortion in the recent referendum were ‘totally ignored’ and that ‘reasonable amendments were rejected out of hand.’
‘Irish society,’ they said, ‘must have respect for the right of conscientious objection for all healthcare professionals and pharmacists. They cannot be forced either to participate in abortion or to refer patients to others for abortion.
‘Every one of us has a right to life. It is not given to us by the Constitution of Ireland or by any law. We have it “as of right,” whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick. All human beings have it. The direct and intentional taking of human life at any stage is gravely wrong and can never be justified.
‘We ask everyone of goodwill – whether at home, in parish, in school or at work – to continue to choose and to celebrate the preciousness of life.’
Nurses say no
On top of that, 500 nurses and midwives who opposed abortion called on TDs to support amendments to protect their right to freedom of conscience so that they would not be forced out of their profession.
The bishops and nurses have a valid argument when one bears in mind that reasonable legislative amendments were rejected out of hand – such as providing women with comprehensive information, and prohibiting abortion when elements of society demanded it on the grounds of sex, race or disability.
But Fine Gael and the independent ‘wimmin’ supporting the party did not want agreement or accommodation with the bishops and nurses or, for that matter, with the anti-abortion movement. The government was on a high; it was as if destiny itself had ordained that the party should pursue a parliamentary course of action that was authoritarian and heartless.
Adding to their glee was the fact that the Pope, the Vatican and the Roman Curia, which is the central government of the Catholic Church, now consider Ireland to be very much a lost cause. The penny dropped when Vlad’s predecessor, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, a practising Catholic, described the Vatican (and by inference the Holy Roman Catholic Church) as ‘dysfunctional, disconnected, elitist and narcissistic’!
Curiously, trendy Fine Gael never threw such vile terms of abuse at any other religious groups: not at the Protestant faith, Islam, the Mormons, Opus Dei, the Plymouth Brethren, Scientologists, the United Lodge of Theosophists, the People’s Temple, Rastafarians, The Salvation Army, the Moody Church, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Yes, it exists!).
For which reason, to the average man and woman whose interest in the antics of Dáil Éireann politicos is peripheral, Ms O’Connell’s observation of ‘We won … Ye lost … It must be hurting ye’ was noteworthy. A sneer, after all, is irrefutable.
But her political comments weren’t sharp or linguistically amusing – anything but! Rather they were indicative of the mindset currently operating within this Government: mean, contemptuous, conceited, mocking, and too clever by half!
Here’s a good one: Harpies from the Hollywood-engendered ‘Me Too Movement’ have succeeded in getting the Christmas song ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ pulled from the playlist of some US radio stations on the basis that the lyrics contain a secret message that advocates date rape.
Also in the sights of the Politically Correct Brigade (try fascist) are ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ (racially problematic), ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’ (racism, misogyny), ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’ (extreme loyalty to non-material evidence), ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ (‘Holy’ has religious connotations), ‘Little Drummer Boy’ (reinforces gender stereotypes), ‘I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ (gender confusion) and ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ (exclusiveness).
So, in a two fingered salute to political correctness gone mad, and not taking into consideration the social disadvantages and discrimination that the many thousands of lady readers of this column must contend with, especially in areas such as race, gender, culture and sexual orientation, here are some truly awful jokes. We picked them up over the years at the Edinburgh Festival.
‘I wanted to do a show about feminism but my husband wouldn’t let me!”
‘I like Jesus but he loves me, so it’s awkward.’
‘I think if you were hardcore anti-feminism, surely you wouldn’t call yourself “anti-feminism,” would you? You’d call yourself “Uncle Feminism”.’
‘Q: Is Google male or female?
A: Female, because it doesn’t let you finish a sentence before making a suggestion.’
And this dreadful wisecrack from the old days:
Crime in multi-storey car parks. That is wrong on so many different levels.