Category Archives:Politics

Robyn R
Apr. 29.

Waffle Wednesday: I see the posters & Despair for Humanity

Robyn RYes, I will say it right now. This is a political post. It is about the Marriage Equality Referendum, and if that’s not your thing, please come back soon. Normal service will resume shortly. There is now less than a month to go until the May 22 Referendum, and I’ll be honest. It can’t come soon enough.

As it typical with all elections and referenda, it comes with posters. Tons of them. Millions of them. Every (other) lamp post is festooned with one or more of them, and sometimes with multiples of the same one (cover every angle). I try to ignore them. I am not a fan of them, but some of them are hard to ignore (but to make it easier, there are no poster images in this post).

My issue isn’t with the Yes campaign posters. they are hardly emotive ( I personally find the Fianna Fail ones to be very banal). The AAA ones skirt a bit close to not being suitable (Vote yes to Equality in 2015, no to Austerity in 2016), but generally they are okay. My issue is with the No campaign. There are a wide range of posters out there, all dealing with highly emotive topics, which aren’t relevant to this referendum. They are issued by and paid for by a group called Mothers & Fathers Matter. Now, I completely agree with the group name. Mothers matter. Fathers matter. But it does not mean that the mother and father have to be in a single group, a single unit. To say that someone who raises a child without a mother, or without a father (why is the evil couple ALWAYS two men?) you are automatically failing the child. Have Mothers & Fathers Matter actually stopped and thought about what they are doing there. They are insulting, and delivering a slap in the face to every single parent in Ireland, and indeed the world. To say that a mother, who threw an abusive partner out, and did the very best she could to raise a child, protect them and care for them in not at all easy circumstances, is a failure as a parent, as they didn’t raise the child with a father, is degrading, inhuman and wrong. Likewise, if fate happened to conspire to leave a father to raise a child without a mother, the father is a failure? There is something seriously messed up there.

And yet, as I said above. The issue of children is not the topic of the referendum. It is about marriage. Very simple. As the proposed wording states:

‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex’

Nowhere does it mention children, or mother, or father. Though, as the constitution will, and has, inevitably been brought up, let’s do some simple word finding exercises:

  • There are 6 mentions of mother in the constitution. Most are as part of the word “mothers” (twice in relation to abortion & four times in relation to work)
  • One mention of father, in this passage (Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,)
  • Nine mentions of parents  (in relation to Article 42 – education)
  • No mentions of female or male

I have seen the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child quoted the same way. The figures are just as bad, and prove the argument wrong just as easily there.

It is unfortunate that psychology says someone will be swayed by the No posters, and that is unfortunate. It is one thing if you choose to vote no, for the right reason in your mind. I don’t agree with you, but I respect your opinion. To decide to vote no, as the result of an argument that is completely irrelevant, though, is wrong. Completely wrong, and as a result I need to advise everyone of this: Find out what the referendum is about. Look at the logical arguments from BOTH sides, discount the ones that you can see are crazy or irrelevant, mull things over, and then make up your mind. You have until May 22.

I must also add, please, do your civic duty. If it is at all possible, check you are on the voter register (you have until May 5th to get yourself on there), and on May 22, get out and vote!

Robyn

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Image Credit: Niall Carson/PA Archive via thejournal.ie
May. 21.

Waffle Wednesday: The Elections

ww-posters-thWe’re nearly there. By the end of the week we will see a drastic reduction in the amount of litter on our streets, and by that I mean the election leaflets and posters will have gone away for another couple of years. But there is still the question of just who to vote for on Friday. Who do I want representing me in my local council and in Europe?

Well, we may as well start at home with the local elections. I’m in the Killiney/Shankill area of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. We have 6 seats to fill, and, unfortunately I can’t think of 6 candidates that would be suitable to fill them. It’s difficult to pick through all the claims of working for the community, that they’re always here for us etc. I’m going to be going with a policy of “do you have experience in visibly working for the area to make sure you can do what you can for those living there” as opposed to voting for any one particular party. To that end there are two candidates who actually deserve my vote. There would have been a third, but as he is retiring and not contesting this election, I obviously can’t vote for him.

Image Credit: Niall Carson/PA Archive via thejournal.ie

Image Credit: Niall Carson/PA Archive via thejournal.ie

That leaves me with 4 seats that I can’t really see people filling. That worries me, as even though I can’t see people filling them, someone has to, and it makes me wary about just who will be given the nod. I have a feeling it will be the same right across the council, and right across the country, leading to very volatile councils with no one party or coalition having control, and this could to a very messy 5 years.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the European Parliament elections, the situation is even worse. I’m in the Dublin area for the European elections, and to be completely honest, none of the candidates speak to me, in any way, about why they deserve my vote. I literally do not have a fucking clue about who to vote for on Friday. And as someone who feels compelled to vote, this makes me feel very uneasy. How can I vote when I have no clue about who will properly represent my views in Europe? Do I really want someone I don’t know anything about passing pan-European laws? By not voting, I can’t say I helped to prevent someone not worthy of a seat from getting in. Likewise if I spoil my vote (which I did do once before, on Lisbon 2. I agreed with it, but felt it was wrong to vote on the same thing again, because the result wasn’t what was wanted the first time) I can at least say I made my voice heard, but it doesn’t contribute anything to anyone.

Image credit: Reuters via FT.com

Image credit: Reuters via FT.com

So, what am I to do? Should I spend the next 48 hours feverishly trying to learn what each European candidate stands for, in order to decide which one is for me? Do I maintain the status quo, and return a sitting MEP to Europe? Or Do I spoil my vote and give nobody my precious number 1 (or to a certain Socialist candidate, my number 1 or highest possible preference – I thought that meant number 1)?

Either way, the next week or so is going to be quite interesting.

Robyn

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Conchita during her performance - Image Credit Albin Olsson/Wikimedia Commons
May. 14.

Waffle Wednesday: Conchita, Eurovision and Attitudes

conchita-thFor those of you who have been living under a rock, let me explain. The Eurovision was held in Copenhagen last week, and was won, in the end quite convincingly, by Austria. Austria sent Conchita Wurst to represent them. Conchita is a drag act. She has a gorgeous figure, a great voice and a beard. Yes, a beard. That bit in itself is not entirely interesting, but the attitudes displayed as a result are.

The final scoreboard - Image Credit BBC

The final scoreboard – Image Credit BBC

Fortunately, most of the attitude has been unbelievably positive, and that is brilliant, but it did lead to me wanting to shout at the television during the votes on Saturday to tell him to shut up, after each time he said he “didn’t expect a country to give points to Conchita.” Graham, times have moved on. Just because a country has in the past been so conservative that Conchita wouldn’t have expected anything from them, doesn’t mean that things are that way now. The public have moved on, and it showed in the results of the public voting (which are available on the Eurovision website, for those who are interested). He even said it of Israel, who sent Dana International, a transsexual person in 1998 and 2010. How could he consider it a surprise when they were that supportive?

Conchita during her performance - Image Credit Albin Olsson/Wikimedia Commons

Conchita during her performance – Image Credit Albin Olsson/Wikimedia Commons

One of the most vocal critics of Conchita was Russia (quelle surprise!) In a country that has so publicly made their stance on homosexuality clear, they couldn’t help but pass comment. Comments such as:

Russian hip hop star Timati saying that the win was the result of a “mental illness of contemporary society” and “I wouldn’t like one fine day to have to explain to my child why two guys are kissing or a woman is walking round with a dyed beard and that’s supposed to be normal,”

Meanwhile Russian politicians Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Dimitry Rogozhin commented “It has turned wild. There are no more men or women in Europe, just it ” and the result “showed supporters of European integration their European future – a bearded girl”

Fortunately though the Russian public proved themselves to be much more receptive to individuality, having voted Conchita 3rd in their public vote, and putting her to the top of the iTunes download chart. Kudos to you Russian public!

Side note: I actually think it would have been interesting to see Russia win the Eurovision, especially with their ban on Homosexual propaganda. How would they be able to host the campest event of the year next year without homosexual propaganda?

Conchita with the winners trophy - Image Credit Albin Olsson/Wikimedia Commons

Conchita with the winners trophy – Image Credit Albin Olsson/Wikimedia Commons

I’ve also seen comments on a trans forum, saying that Conchita’s beard is setting back the cause of trans people, and allowing them to be branded as freaks for having a female body and a beard. Firstly, Conchita is not trans, she is a drag performer. At the end of the day, the dress goes back in the wardrobe, the makeup comes off and regular Tom is there. He has no compulsion to be female. It is an act. And secondly, as a trans person myself, I think it is utter bullshit that Conchita could be seen as putting back the trans cause. She can only help it. This was a victory for individuality. A victory for those who don’t fit the norms of life.

As she said in her speech as she collected the trophy on Saturday night: “This is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom… We are unity and we are unstoppable!”

I can honestly say and be thankful to most of Europe, who did show that they believe in that future, that they are united, and that they are unstoppable. I can say to the naysayers, the past called. They want their ideas back.

And finally, I have to say, Thank You Conchita!

Robyn

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Image credit: Reuters via FT.com
Apr. 23.

Waffle Wednesday: So It Begins…

ww-posters-thThere is one sight that fills me with absolute dread. A sight that I saw yesterday as I left the train station on my way home. A sight of many smiling, supposedly trustworthy faces looking at me from the lamp posts. So it begins… Election Poster season.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like elections, and this one will be particularly interesting. I absolutely despise election posters and leaflets though. The sight of so many posters from so many people trying to convince me that they are worth the coveted Vote 1, that they work for the community all the time, makes me want to not go outside until it’s time to vote.

Image credit: Reuters via FT.com

Image credit: Reuters via FT.com

There is one particular candidate, a sitting councillor, who in a recent leaflet drop through the door, and ad campaign in our local newsletter magazine, claimed that she works for the community all the time, not just at elections. The funny thing is, the last time I saw her, it was roughly 5 years ago, smiling at me from a poster no less. Then we have other candidates, who believe that the best way to make a name for themselves is to be disruptive, to jump on every single bandwagon going, in the hopes that one of them will end up doing something.

Driving during election poster season quite literally drives me insane. Driving in Dublin or its suburbs, or indeed any city can be tricky enough at times without the added distraction of election posters. Was that the turn that I was meant to take? You know, the one that was hidden by the poster. Or is that a road sign among the election posters there? Did I just crash into the back of someone while looking at a poster of someone I’m not going to vote for? It is absolute madness at times, where rules regarding their placement are loosely interpreted, or simply disregarded.

Image Credit: Niall Carson/PA Archive via thejournal.ie

Image Credit: Niall Carson/PA Archive via thejournal.ie

Maybe we should look at following the lead of some councils in Scotland, and a handful of towns in Ireland, who have banned the erection of election posters on public property. Hopefully that would then make the people who want our votes actually work for it, visiting the electorate, and face to face proving that they are the right people for the job, that they have done, and will continue to support the communities that they claim to represent. It’s on that basis that I’ll be voting, and not on the basis of oh I remember that name from the many hundred election posters I’ve seen of them.

What are your views on election posters? Are they a nuisance, or a necessary part of the democratic process? Are candidates in your area making extraordinary claims that they can’t back up? Let me know in the comments below.

Robyn

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dail-glee
Jul. 02.

What if: The Dail Was a Glee Club

dail-gleeInspired by a post on Facebook from the wonderful Paula (check out her blog, by the way), this explores the very big what if, of the Dail being a Glee Club. Seriously, who would take what part? Would Enda and Eamon do a duet? What would be sung? Just for fun, here’s what I think would happen…

(more…)

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