Archive for the 'Politics' Category

06th Feb 2010

Rome lookalikes

A few things struck me on my trip to Rome a couple of weekends ago. There seemed to be a promotion on of the period when Jack Meadows out of The Bill was emperor…

Jack Meadows - the Emperor Vespasian

Also found sculptures of Robin Cook…

Robin Cook

Mrs Doyle out of Father Ted

Mrs Doyle

And even the Ood out of Doctor Who, wearing a shower cap.

The Ood - a minotaur

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under History, Politics, Travel, TV Comments No Comments »

19th Jan 2010

Speak up for Kurt Westergaard and Free Speech

On New Year’s Day, a man attempted to kill Kurt Westergaard with an axe, because four years ago he drew a picture.  The man was a Muslim, and he was so upset that Westergaard’s drawing linked his religion with violence that he attempted to commit an act of violence in the name of his religion.

Today, an auction in aid of the victims of the Haitian earthquake rejected another cartoon, with no religious connotations, that Westergaard had donated.  His hairdresser has told him she will no longer cut his hair for fear of reprisals.

Freedom speech benefits everyone. I’m an atheist, and I’m glad I live in an age when I have the freedom to reject and criticise religion without reprisal from the state or the faithful. Not everyone thinks like me. Lots of people value their religion, and are upset when people like me don’t treat it with what they consider due reverence. But think: if you are offended by Westergaard’s cartoon, or The Satanic Verses, or the Life of Brian, or Jerry Springer the Musical, or Bezhti — freedom of speech means you can criticise it as volubly and vociferously as you like, and disseminate that criticism as widely as you can manage. Freedom of speech is as much yours as it is mine.  We must not allow fanatics the power to bully us into sacrificing that freedom. A fanatic with power is a tyrant, and tyrants don’t value the freedom of anyone but themselves.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Personal, Politics, Religion Comments 1 Comment »

05th Nov 2008

God bless the Daily Mash

In the midst of all the euphoria, Britain’s premier satire site sums it up as “America Buys All That Change Bullshit“.

I salute the creators of The Daily Mash for their commitment to cynicism in the face of overwhelming public optimism.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Politics Comments No Comments »

04th Nov 2008

Opinion Poll

Like most of us, the characters of The Cattle Raid of Cooley don’t have a vote in tonight’s US Presidential election, being as how they live in Ireland two thousand years ago and all.  But, inspired by this blog post by Rick Marshall, I decided to do a quick straw poll.

Medb is tempted to vote McCain on PUMA grounds (she was backing Hillary), but ultimately thinks Obama and Biden would be more likely to do what she tells them.

Fergus, as an old soldier, is McCain all the way.  Plus, that Palin woman has a lovely arse on her.

Cú Chulainn’s only sixteen, so he doesn’t have a vote, and doesn’t much care either way.  Láeg isn’t sure about Obama – too smooth by half – but definitely thinks McCain’s an eejit.  He’ll probably go for Nader, or not bother.

Lug Longhand, god of youth and glory, is quite taken by Obama’s charisma.

The Morrígan, goddess of carnage, hasn’t stopped singing “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” since she heard McCain on the radio that time.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Politics, The Cattle Raid of Cooley Comments No Comments »

17th Aug 2007

Protestantism, football and shame – theatre critic post

Just been to the Grand Opera House in Belfast with me ma to see a play, A Night in November by Marie Jones, starring Patrick Kielty. Like just about every play produced in Northern Ireland since God was a lad, it’s a comedy about sectarianism with a single set doing multiple duties as a variety of locations – a football terrace, a living room, an office, a golf course, New York, etc – with a tiny cast – tinier than usual in fact: just Kielty. He plays Kenneth Norman McAllister, a mildly bigoted Belfast protestant who is shocked by the extreme bigotry hurled by Northern Ireland football fans at visiting Republic of Ireland fans during a match at Windsor Park in the qualifying for the 1994 World Cup, learns to love “the other side” and eventually goes to New York to support the Republic in the World Cup.

Now, it’s very funny, and Kielty performs it very well, playing not only Kenneth but all the other characters in asides. But its subject matter is political, and politically, it’s crap. Its message is, prods are uptight, snobby and conventional, not to mention sectarian, while fenians are happy, free-spirited and spontaneous, and not a sectarian thought would ever cross their minds. When prods support their football team and hurl abuse at their opponents, it’s out of hatred, but when fenians do it it’s in a spirit of fun and togetherness. Prods are horrible, and can only redeem themselves by realising how horrible they are, rejecting everything about themselves and switching sides.

I don’t know much about Marie Jones, but I understand she’s a Belfast protestant herself. So am I. I went through an adolescent phase when, after learning about the crimes “my side” had committed, my sympathy for the “other side” became idealisation – a lot of us do, in adolescence. But it didn’t take long to realise how unrealistic that was. Yes, terrible things have been done by and on behalf of the protestant community in Northern Ireland, but it helps no-one to be ashamed of who you are. It’s possible to reject sectarian hatred and tribal loyalty without rejecting your own identity. In fact, it’s better if you don’t – how can you speak to your own community if you’ve rejected them and effectively joined another, or at least become a wannabe?

There are no positive images of protestants in this play, and no negative images of catholics. Although Kenneth checks under his car for IRA bombs, this is part of the comedy, the lowly clerk imagining he’s important enough to be a target; meanwhile, the play is bookended by a pair of horrific loyalist atrocities, which contribute to Kenneth’s change of character. Who is this supposed to speak to? I can’t imagine Catholics appreciating the patronising, “magic negro” portrayal of their community, and for a protestant, this play is an extended terrace chant of “you’re shit, and you know you are.” That’s hardly helpful to anybody.

Edited to add: Here’s a link to a review of another production of the play from the Montreal Mirror, that expresses what I was trying to say a bit more articulately and succinctly. Scroll down to the bit entitled “November Unmemorable”.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Belfast, Northern Ireland, Politics Comments No Comments »

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