Infighting on the left and a real left-wing alternative

Oh, the infighting on the left. If only they could get along and get their act together, and maybe they’d achieve something. In the aftermath of #coponcomrades, and after a couple of years of complete lack of consensus around Corbyn’s Labour leadership in the UK, it is easy to feel like the infighting on the left has become a pet peeve of many, interestingly especially those who aren’t actually that far out on the left. And I’m starting to feel frustrated by it. Not the infighting, that is – but the opinions. As things stand in Ireland, billionaire business man Denis O’Brien is the owner of Communicorp and significant minority shareholder of INM, the companies that control significant media outlets including the Irish...

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Normalising hate speech – on John Berger, the Irish Times, and the recontextualisation of meanings

I watched the first episode of Ways of Seeing, the BBC John Berger mini-series from 1972, last night. Explaining how images are given new meanings in different contexts, carrying ideological biases depending on their presentation and contextualisation, Berger ends the episode with a warning: “But remember that I am controlling, and using for my own purposes, the means of reproduction needed for these programmes. The images may be like words – but there is no dialogue yet. You cannot reply to me. […] You receive images and meanings, which are arranged. I hope you will consider what I arrange – but be sceptical of it.” The alt-right article and glossary* by Nicholas Pell published yesterday in the Irish Times has been called many...

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A feminist childcare model – and mammies doing it wrong

“Children of working mothers have better social and everyday skills,” read an Irish Times headline last week. A few days later, The Guardian reported on another study suggesting that mothers should spend as much time with their children as they can afford, and went with the headline “Child’s cognitive skills linked to time spent with mother”. Such is the game of pitting mothers against each other: you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. This of course is nothing new; the stream of new studies seems never-ending, and media loves reporting on them – likely because new mothers never fail to fall for the clickbait, desperate for some sort of evidence that they’re doing something right in this most difficult job...

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On The Niall Boylan Show and getting ignorant answers to ignorant questions

Is the general public “right to be angry at the sense of entitlement” of a homeless, pregnant mother-of-two in temporary hotel accommodation? asked The Niall Boylan Show on Facebook the other day. Linking to screen grabs of a journal.ie article about the woman and a selection of comments on the same, the radio show noted that Laura from Cork was “not getting a huge amount of sympathetic thumbs up” on the site. Cue the radio show’s Facebook fans telling Laura to “close [her] fucking fanny”, stop having more kids and start looking after the ones she already has, get a job, and start paying for a living. Her “sense of entitlement”, of course, is never questioned – that’s already been established by the question...

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I oppose irresponsible programming – not free speech

So The Late Late Show decided to book Katie Hopkins – British tabloid columnist, vocal Trump supporter and bigoted racist extraordinaire – to fly over from England to discuss the context and outcome of the US election. RTÉ received over 1,000 complaints in little over a day, but the complainants were quickly labelled smug and opposed to democratic, basic free speech, and accused of – wait for it – denying Hopkins a platform. Let’s be very clear about one thing: this has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with poor programming. “RTÉ, as the national public service broadcaster, shall reflect the democratic, social and cultural values of Irish society and the need to preserve media pluralism,” reads the...

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Why politics needs passion: on tone policing, Repeal jumpers and rational reasoning

Is tone policing the new master suppression technique? What is a master suppression technique? you ask. It is a way to suppress and humiliate an opponent, according to Norwegian psychologist and philosopher Ingjald Nissen, who articulated the framework of such techniques in 1945. And tone policing? A tone argument is one which isn’t strictly concerned with what is being said, but rather with the tone in which it is expressed. Tone policing, consequently, is a strategy of dismissing arguments irrespective of their legitimacy or accuracy. It’s a derailing tactic and, I would suggest, a master suppression technique on the rise. Ireland boasts an impressive selection of recent examples of the latter, thanks to a series of articles...

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A word on choice and tone-policing – or, why balance is a sham

We’re used to being told that we’re doing it wrong. We’re used to being told that we’re too aggressive, too angry, too shrill. But when, all of a sudden, we start hearing it from people supposedly on our side, alarm bells start ringing. These alleged pro-choice supporters with the vocabulary of anti-choicers started voicing their concerns in national newspapers recently, airing their fears that the repeal campaign may be failing and revealing that they wouldn’t be joining the March for Choice after all. Why? First we were told that we were failing to take the debate about the unborn’s right to life, and that we’d need to do so in order to win over Ireland’s ‘mushy middle’. It’s a debate campaigners are taking every...

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From #NotAllMen to #AllVictimsMatter

I started writing a piece the other day called ‘From #NotAllMen to #NotAllMedia’, which I had yet to publish. I wanted to clarify yet again how my criticism of the reporting of the Cavan murders was a structural critique of sorts, aiming to start a conversation around the wider media climate and its impact on the real-life experiences of its audiences, and how making it personal and debating individual journalists’ performances and accomplishments would be to drastically miss the point. Naturally, I responded to requests to debate individual tabloid journalists on air with a firm ‘no’. I wasn’t going to engage with that level of debate at all. Then the Crime Editor of the Irish Times went and published an opinion piece...

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Rest in peace, invisible woman

Five people die in Cavan, and in the days to come, Irish newspapers are full of questions. “Why did he do it?” asks one national daily, picturing a man and his three sons. “How could he kill those poor boys?” asks another. It is almost immediately clear that the father, Mr Hawe, has stabbed the other four to death: the mother and the three sons. He has then killed himself. And in search for answers, we are told what an honourable man the murderer was: “a valuable member of the community”, “very committed” and “the most normal person you could meet”. Soon follow the calls for increased funding of mental health services. Two days have passed since the tragic news broke, and today the Irish Times ran a front page reading...

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Take your privilege and shut up

So today started out well. What better way to start your day than with a nice cup of coffee, a bit of sunshine and a good dose of privilege spread across the opinion pages of the Independent? Now, before you go looking for the article – don’t. Don’t give them the honour; don’t feed their advertisers. Lovely woman as I am, I have summarised Barbara McCarthy’s privileged views below along with some rage-fuelled commentary. Hurray! McCarthy introduces her tribute to privilege with a brief anecdote of a man revealing himself to her at an airport, exemplifying the many situations that would justify her feeling offended. She was even called a tranny once – what an insult, eh? Her point is this: feminists these days take offence...

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