Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


Tag: comment

Why wouldn’t you vote Yes?

This article really bothers me, and I think it’s mostly to do with couching the movement to repeal the 8th Amendment in terms of ‘debate’ as suits the No side, which in the case of this campaign should be taken in the competitive sense: an art of persuasion, irrespective of facts.

The author, Colleen Brady, writes: “At the minute I feel as though there is no unbiased information readily available for the public. From where I am looking, the information available to people is either swayed one way or another.”

The thing is, this isn’t the Lisbon Treaty. It’s a healthcare issue, it’s a social issue, an awkward negotiation of complex needs. Looking for some kind of elusive, singular ‘objectivity’ is a fool’s errand. There are facts about particular aspects, and there are lies and untruths about same, and that’s all we can deal with. More…


The Great Awokening: What happens to culture in an era of identity politics?

“[Sensitivity] to the experiences of racial, cultural, sexual, and gender identities besides one’s own, and [being] attuned to the injustices that shape our world” is the best definition I’ve seen for the concept of ‘woke’, and this is a good essay about the related societal shift. It is ironic, though, that this article has since been affected by the very shifts it examines; that section about Aziz Ansari’s Master of None doesn’t sit too comfortably today next to the excoriation of Louis CK. #link


A note on impartiality in reporting on the 8th Amendment

And a fair point, too. The 8th doesn't recognise a natural 'right'; it creates and enshrines recognition of a social construct, flying in the face of best medical practice. But in a country where only arseholes tend to be litigious (or can afford to be), RTÉ may not be particularly worried about offending people who can't or won't sue them. #link


Luas Cross City augurs change in Broombridge

From last year, about a year after we moved to Dundalk and my commute, whether by rail or bicycle along the canal, no longer took me past the least loved station in the Irish Rail network. I’ve been wondering about the security situation at a stop that had no Leap card readers for months due to vandalism. (Oh, and there was that time some scumbag bricked a train window we were sitting next to. The area itself isn’t that rough, though.) #link


I’m not one for conspiracy theories…

…I believe the wrongs of this world are much more banal than we often allow ourselves to accept.

At the same time, I can’t help but see a connection between Fianna Fáil’s no-confidence motion against the Tánaiste, in the midst of an important Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment, and the notion that their TDs represent this country’s most staunchly anti-choice political movement.

(Not that Fine Gael are any better, mind, as they’re two sides of the same coin, but how and ever.)
More…


The age of banter

When you combine the refusal to take anything seriously with the refusal to take responsibility, this is what you get. #link


Fintan O’Toole: Ireland is still defined by the church’s mindset

O’Toole writes in The Irish Times about the persistence of Ireland’s “moral-industrial complex”. He doesn’t specify it (he brings up housing the homeless in hotels) but what is direct provision if not a direct descendent of the 20th-century institutionalisation of Catholic Ireland’s ‘undesirables’? We still have such a long way to go in this country. See also: Emer O’Toole in the Guardian on the church (and their apologists) feigning shock over the Tuam Babies scandal. #link


The Village Voice: White America has lost its mind

Steven Thrasher nailed it, six years ago. But is it insanity? Or just plain old bigotry? I vote the latter; it explains not only what’s happened in the horror clown’s America since last year, but also the omnishambles of contemporary British socio-politics. [c/o @maura] #link


The Guardian on PPE, ‘the Oxford degree that runs Britain’

A fascinating read about a genuine issue — a single university degree as a training course for the British political class, more or less — that loses its way a bit when it mistakes balance for fairness in giving space to critical right-wing voices without explicit context for their own biases. (That Tariq Ali reference is money, though.) #link


Ta-Nehisi Coates: “I’m a big believer in chaos”

I had expected this to be quaint considering all that’s happened, and will happen, but no, Coates already had the horror clown’s number. It’s also interesting to contrast that with his reaction to the way his book has been received by white people in the US. #link


Fredrik deBoer: no one can define ‘cultural appropriation’

I don’t think this is true: appropriation in bad faith is fairly easy to discern. But what this argument really gets to the heart of is the hypocrisy of defining ‘culture’ as an either-or proposition, with no respect for the agency of those from a different background (because it’s really all about you and absolving your own guilt over whatever). In better words: “Don’t mimic or perform being a type of person that you intend others to recognize as such, especially when that involves exaggeration or when intended to inspire contempt or humor. That is a rule about people, not a rule about culture.” (Update 2019.04.22: The link is dead now, but I'll leave this here as a testament to the fact that I get things wrong all the time, and this is a prime example — not so much my quibbles with the topic at hand, but certainly in signal-boosting deBoer as a source.) #link


No, you’re not entitled to your opinion

“You are only entitled to what you can argue for.” And that’s usually where those with ‘wrong’ opinions fail, because they take them as first principles that need no defence. #link


Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns

Political pettiness goes far, especially when those responsible can remove themselves enough steps from responsibility so they can sleep at night. Also, isn’t it funny that gun control has virtually disappeared from the agenda as of late? #link


How a murdered woman became invisible in the coverage of her death

It’s something we’re still getting to grips with here, interpreting tragedy through an outmoded prism of what it means to be Irish, and particularly an Irish man: parishioner, sportsman, ‘pillar of the community’. We don’t much like self-reflection here; it’s reveals the lie of our theme-park culture. #link


I’m Tired Of Shouting For Help

When I worked at a certain major music and video retailer that no longer exists (the French would call it Ashemvay) I was more than happy to help people with disabilities who were shopping for items we stocked on the first floor, which was only accessible by stairs (not because it was a listed building, which is was and is, but because Irish disability legislation doesn’t mandate the provision of a lift). That’s not the point, of course; I’m sure they’d much rather have shopped for themselves. But we rarely think of that. #link


A Platform for Trolls

“Sensible people — people who care about things like acceptance and inclusion — were complaining about Katy Hopkins being on the show. They talked about how they weren’t going to watch the show, and everyone inside the same echo chamber of opinions repeated the same thing, over and over again. Meanwhile, the people who were insulated from the uproar, the people who don’t know who Katy is (or worse, the people that agree with her) just watched the show anyway. Along with, I’ll bet, a lot of the people who said they wouldn’t. And then come the complaints to RTÉ and the cycle continues.” Yep, I was part of that echo chamber, I’ll own that. It still rankles that RTÉ refused to entertain complaints before the programme, as if the prospect of sheer wrongness doesn’t count, but RATINGS. #link


Thinking out loud about the New Dark Age

Times Square

Rounding up some loosely connected thoughts on the last week’s tumultuous political happenings:

— You know the end of Caligula, when he and his family are murdered and the idiot Claudius is proclaimed the new emperor? I can’t quite put my finger on why the last few days remind me of that…

— Real talk, though: Trump’s win shows the dark side of democracy. That’s simply a statement of fact. When people make ill-informed choices, such are the results. That doesn’t mean democracy as a process is inherently flawed; it’s better than any alternative, in both philosophical and real-world terms. It’s the way it’s practiced that makes the difference.

More…


When Student Activists Refuse to Talk to Campus Newspapers

Naivety plus a propensity to compartmentalise the world into easily classifiable categories (intersectionality does not equal mutability, ding ding) is a dangerous equation. Let me put it another way: the media is not the monolith some perceive it to be. You want to be the change you want to see? You can do it through existing channels too, not solely via your own — indeed, the latter is arguably best avoided, because you’re probably blind to your own biases. #link


Will the Left Survive the Millennials?

If the spirit of what she’s saying is sound, Lionel Shriver doesn’t help her case with hyperbole like ‘shrill’, ‘fraught with danger’ and ‘weaponised sensitivity’. (And that headline? Sheesh.) She also (wilfully?) misses the point of what Abdel-Magied was trying to get across, as much as I rolled my eyes at her pained prose: that it’s really no longer acceptable for the relatively privileged to write about others less so, when the latter are given fewer — or no — opportunities to do it themselves. #link


The Rise of Victimhood Culture

I'm not sure using terms like 'victimhood culture' helps, as they seem as needlessly aggressive as the term 'microaggression' is itself. (It's onomatopoeia, isn't it? The word 'aggression' has an aggressive sound and mouth-feel to it.) But that's a distraction from the purpose of this piece. While there is indeed a very real, subtly oppressive quality to the widespread use of terms historically used to diminish society's minorities or quasi-minorities, it's also been contorted into a weapon wielded in a kind of cultural gamesmanship. And that's none more clear than the exchange this article uses as example, where the actual problem, if it exists at all, is lost in the rush to gain sympathy or kudos from peers, which quickly descends into childish sore-loser name-calling. I mean, the sheer irony of believing only one's own intersectionality matters, and if one's 'enemy' claims similar they're acting in bad faith. I'd laugh if it wasn't so depressing. #link


The Obama Doctrine

“For all of our warts, the United States has clearly been a force for good in the world. If you compare us to previous superpowers, we act less on the basis of naked self-interest, and have been interested in establishing norms that benefit everyone. If it is possible to do good at a bearable cost, to save lives, we will do it.” If only that were completely true, the 'acting less on the basis of naked self-interest' part: even a great power with great responsibility like the US never acts out of altruism; it always puts itself first. (Hence the alarmingly eager redirection towards drone-based interventionism.) But the quote demonstrates that Barack Obama is the most human president the US has had in years, and for all of his warts -- and there are many -- he is one of the most important. #link


How drug laws aimed at pregnant women penalize their children

Lawmakers in the US have created a catch-22 whereby women are punished for doing the right thing. Probably done by the same moralising arseholes who think it ain't no thing for a woman who doesn't want to be pregnant to carry their child to term because adoption exists. #link


All Politics Is Local

"Local is very different things to each of us. A short walk around town is enough to see nothing but parallel lives and contradictions." It's also so easy to compartmentalise these experiences so that individual 'tragic circumstances' never comprise a greater, more overwhelming whole that requires immediate response. #link


Rents around the country are still rising, rising, rising...

Is anyone surprised? Ireland needs a fundamental rethink: priority investment both in homebuilding and supportive infrastructure to secure long-term 'growth' (I hate that term so much). Doesn't even have to be in Dublin: plenty of depressed or depressive satellite towns and secondary cities that could do with the investment. Ireland is growing, and we need somewhere for our people to live. Can we stop hiding from this fact, please? #link


What's Really to Blame for San Francisco's Housing Crisis

This is pretty close to what's happening in Dublin, too: lots of handwringing about the capital's housing crisis, zero action in terms of protection for tenants (from rent hikes, eviction) or building to feed demand (because of backwards notions of urban growth 'killing' pastoral Ireland or whatever). #link


The rise of American authoritarianism

It's a Vox article, yeah. But it does put the Trump phenomenon in perspective, as much as it's a damning indictment of the state of American society. (In other words, thanks for fucking up the world for the rest of us, yanks!) #link


Donald Trump and the “F-Word”

"We want to think about Trump using our familiar categories, according to familiar norms, judging him by familiar rules. But what Donald Trump is all about is incinerating the existing rules––which are revealed as all too easy to incinerate. He breaks the system just by his manner of being. It’s humbling, because the system he breaks is the only one we know how to understand." That's true. But he's also fairly typical of the fundamentally amoral moneyed class that have existed since wealth was invented. #link


The Ugly New Front In The Neverending Video Game Culture War

Blogged for this nugget of wisdom: "We’ve all probably said something on the Internet that’s off-color or offensive, or just not given proper context in the size of tweet. Many of us have held problematic views at different stages in our lives, particularly when engaging in intellectual exercises or writing academic papers. In the past, we’d generally expect to be given a chance to move on and leave our past selves behind. In today’s culture wars, that’s not the case. The past is present, especially when your words are only a Google search away." (If that doesn't describe this very website I don't know what does.) #link


What ISIS Really Wants

My eyes glaze over at what passes for an apologia for Islamophobia in the middle of this piece, but I'll accept that Islam as a religion is no better or worse than any other. Whatever the faith, it's what its adherents do that counts. #link