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John Waters on debate, the media, and truth February 22, 2014

Posted by Tomboktu in Bits and Pieces, Complete nonsense, Equality.
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You may have noticed that John Waters’s column has been absent from the Irish Times for the last three weeks. He has, however, provided a statement to GCN. GCN invited him, among others, to be interviewed.
This is his response.

It’s a little late for ‘debate’ when the night rallies have been scheduled and the hate-mongers have been given the run of the playing field. The problem with the word ‘homophobia’ is obvious: it’s a word with a deliberately cultivated demonic aura, which is used not merely to describe acts or words of hatred against gays, but also to demonise those whose positions about family, children or the Constitution appear to be at odds with what the gay lobby is demanding. But, when this is pointed out, the users of the word say that the word means what they say it means, no more and no less. In this they now, it appears, have the full support of an irredeemably dishonest media, together with the full run of the Internet to demonise anyone they say is homophobic – without, it seems, any requirement to produce proof or illustration to validate their assertions. Anyone who tried to speak truthfully about these matters in these circumstances would be insane. We have entered a new era in Irish life, democracy and free speech – and it’s not a nice place and unlikely to change for the better.

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1. ivorthorne - February 22, 2014

He be crazy.

Interesting that of the various Iona-heads, he is the one who has disappeared.

I heard Breda O’Brien on Marian this morning. She was being interviewed carefully by Marian. The flaws in O’Briens arguments were identified bit Marian but she didn’t push when O’Brien failed to address those flaws.

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sonofstan - February 22, 2014

It’s interesting – because their modus operandi is paranoid obfuscation and general witch hunting, they imagine that’s what other people do as well in pursuit of their political objectives.

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WorldbyStorm - February 22, 2014

True SoS.

ivorthorne, Marian is so uncombative for all the ‘hold the ring’ stuff she comes out with.

Just on Waters, I still pine after the days he had (or seemed to have) a genuinely broad based view which seemed to be very pluralistic. He was far from a reactionary while also understanding or at least having an insight into why people took time to get to certain places. But he nailed his colours to a single mast a very long time back.

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ivorthorne - February 22, 2014

In O’Brien’s case, I think that there is a genuine sense of confusion. She acknowledges that her arguments also apply to heterosexual couples adopting/surrogacy etc. She admits that modern marriage is not the same as what it once was. She acknowledges that all of the individuals involved in families where the parents are of the same sex are loving etc

What she says contrasts with Waters’ comments regarding gay marriage being a “satire” or “sabotage” of society. It is unfair that she gets tarred with same label as him, but since she freely chooses to associate with Iona, it’s her own fault.

I guess to be fair, it (paranoid obfuscation and general witch hunting) IS what other people do.

Look at Bruton and Gilmore – who O’Brien, Waters and Quinn would view as their most serious opposition – and you will see that this is exactly what they do on a regular basis. For an obvious example, have a look at the GSOC/Whistleblower controversy this week.

There are a class of people within this country who think that it’s fine to use any old argument that gets you closer to your goal. Many of these people are political correspondents who fail to call bullshit when the likes of Bruton and Kenny pretend not to understand the questions they are asked in the Dail.

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RosencrantzisDead - February 22, 2014

In O’Brien’s case, I think that there is a genuine sense of confusion. She acknowledges that her arguments also apply to heterosexual couples adopting/surrogacy etc. She admits that modern marriage is not the same as what it once was. She acknowledges that all of the individuals involved in families where the parents are of the same sex are loving etc

This raises the question as to why she persists in wrongly presenting this as an argument against gay marriage.

On her own terms, she should be seeking to ban widows, orphans and all adoption but she stops well short of that.

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ivorthorne - February 22, 2014

Yeah, Marian picked up on that. That was where she became vague in her replies.

She talked about the move toward gay marriage “copper fastening” the changes.

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RosencrantzisDead - February 22, 2014

Where a person is confronted with a contradiction in their position but nevertheless holds to that position and fails provide a satisfactory reason for continuing to cleave to that position, would it be wrong for an observer to conclude that the position is an intellectual cover for another, unvoiced motivation?

I do not think so. Of course, there may be a wide variety of unvoiced motivations or arguments.

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ivorthorne - February 22, 2014

I almost agree with you. I would agree that there are unvoiced motivations, but would hesitate before concluding that it is an intellectual cover. That seems to imply that she is conscious of her true motivation.

Let’s face it though, most people don’t have an especially well developed philosophy. Many conservatives are just that. Conservatives. They don’t like change and are skeptical of any proposal to alter something that they value.

I get the sense that they romanticise a time that never was. Like the rest of us, they tend to work backwards when it comes to justifying their beliefs but sometimes they don’t go all the way back.

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2. ivorthorne - February 22, 2014

Not to overanalyze Waters. but that over the years, his battles over fathers’ rights seem to have influenced his move to social conservatism.

Waters views on pretty much everything seem to be influenced by the fact that he is convinced that biological fatherhood is a Very Important Thing. He is convinced that the media’s failure to highlight the issue to his satisfaction has convinced him that it is biased against men and traditional families. He reads moves toward equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples as some sort of further undermining of the importance of biological parents.

He reminds me a little of Richard Dawkins – you know, except that Dawkins made some small contribution to society before going off the rails. Both men seem to have let their experiences campaigning for one (worthy) issue colour their views on most subjects and imagine that the world is divided into “them” and “us”.

By the way, does anybody know exactly what Waters’ relationship with Iona is?

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Tawdy - February 22, 2014

After ” He reminds me of Richard Dawkins etc ” you should have said IN MY OPINION.

In my opinion you really have tried to drag some one who exposes hypocratic stupidity ( Richard Dawkins ) into the same sphere as someone who practices being a shagging hypocrite on a large scale (John Waters ) and want to equate them as the same.

Shame that.

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WorldbyStorm - February 22, 2014

I think that’s very true what you say ivorthorne. There’s a real sense that there was before fatherhood with him and after.

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WorldbyStorm - February 22, 2014

Tawdy, fair enough re IMO for ivorthorne, but he’s not the only one who finds Dawkin’s approach particularly in recent years on issues way beyond theism/atheism very black and white.

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RosencrantzisDead - February 22, 2014

Can someone have a different opinion on whether John Waters reminds ivorthorne of Richard Dawkins?

Seems bizarre to me.

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Tawdy - February 22, 2014

The difference of opinion is bizarre to you? Really!

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RosencrantzisDead - February 23, 2014

The statement ‘he reminds me of’ refers to a mental state. You are demanding that he attach ‘in my opinion’ to the end of his sentence. This makes no sense. A person cannot have an opinion on whether they are experiencing a mental state. You might as well demand that someone add ‘in my opinion’ anytime they say ‘I feel cold’, ‘I feel warm’, ‘I am hungry’ etc.

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ivorthorne - February 22, 2014

Tawdy, is there a circumstance in which a statement like that could be something other than an opinion?

I started off as a big fan of Dawkins. His books on evolution are great. I would still recommend them to anybody.But the link between Dawkins and Waters is that while Waters seems to have gone of the rails as a result of the opposition he encountered when promoting father’s rights (a worthy enough cause), Dawkins seems to have been driven mad by creationists and fundamentalist Christians who have opposed him in his attempts to make evolution understandable.

Both Dawkins and Waters can – in my opinion – act like complete assholes when it comes to how they deal with their opponents. Waters comments regarding the “gay lobby”, “sabotage” and gay marriage being a “satire” come to mind Dawkins comments on “mild paedophilia”, the #honeygate, muslims and Nobel prizes, Rebecca Watson and campaigning for Michael Reiss to be fired also come to mind.

It’s hard not to think that he was being a bit of an asshole when he made his comments about Mitt Romney. Now there’s nothing wrong with not liking Mitt, but when your argument is “can you really vote for such a massively gullible fool? He is a Mormon BISHOP!” you know you’re being a bit of a dick. Dawkins is usually more right than wrong, but anybody who uses a phrase like “Who the hell do these Muslims think they are?” needs to dial it back a notch.

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Tawdy - February 22, 2014

Obviously that is just your opinion and nothing more!

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Starkadder - February 22, 2014

“Not to overanalyze Waters. but that over the years, his battles over fathers’ rights seem to have influenced his move to social conservatism.

Waters views on pretty much everything seem to be influenced by the fact that he is convinced that biological fatherhood is a Very Important Thing. He is convinced that the media’s failure to highlight the issue to his satisfaction has convinced him that it is biased against men and traditional families. He reads moves toward equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples as some sort of further undermining of the importance of biological parents. ”

That’s my assessment of Waters’ views as well. I don’t
recall him being particularly right-wing before he
started plugging the father’s rights issue.

He also sounds like he has a persecution complex-
why else did he title a collection of his work
“The Politburo Has Decided That You are Unwell ” ?

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WorldbyStorm - February 22, 2014

He wasn’t right-wing as far as I could judge back in the day. Cynical, progressive (small ‘p’).

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Tawdy - February 22, 2014

Di I say it was black and white?

Did I not point out that it was an opinion by the poster involved and not a universal truth!.

Who said it was black and white but yourself!

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WorldbyStorm - February 23, 2014

Not sure if you’re referring to my comment but that wasn’t describing your thoughts or a dig at you but giving my sense of Dawkins on some issues.

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EWI - February 22, 2014

Waters views on pretty much everything seem to be influenced by the fact that he…

…got involved with Sinéad O’Connor.

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WorldbyStorm - February 22, 2014

That certainly seems to have been the watershed in his life.

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3. EWI - February 22, 2014

It’s a little late for ‘debate’ when the night rallies have been scheduled and the hate-mongers have been given the run of the playing field. The problem with the word ‘liberal agenda’ is obvious: it’s a word with a deliberately cultivated demonic aura, which is used not merely to describe acts or words of hatred against homophobes, but also to demonise those whose positions about family, children or the Constitution appear to be at odds with what the Roman Catholic Church is demanding. But, when this is pointed out, the users of the word say that the word means what they say it means, no more and no less. In this they now, it appears, have the full support of an irredeemably dishonest media, together with the full run of the Internet to demonise anyone they say is part of the liberal agenda – without, it seems, any requirement to produce proof or illustration to validate their assertions. Anyone who tried to speak truthfully about these matters in these circumstances would be insane. We have entered a new era in Irish life, democracy and free speech – and it’s not a nice place and unlikely to change for the better.

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Bob Smiles - February 22, 2014

I don’t want to stigmatise mental health issues but all that stuff with the clampers in dun laoire and going to jail – is he well?

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ivorthorne - February 23, 2014

Honestly, I think that he probably has difficulties with regard to his mental health. By his own account, he has been through some stressful times. I guess he would probably point out that there is something wrong in being normal within a system that is inherently unhealthy. At this point it is probably more useful to try to identify the factors that made him him “unwell” in eyes of most of us, than to dismiss him as nuts.

Tawdy, I think what people are pointing out is that by using the phrase “he reminds me of ” it was probably obvious to most readers that what I was stating was an opinion. Including the phrase “in my opinion” would have been redundant.

It’s fair enough to point out that this was an opinion (and I would never assert that Dawkins and Waters were identical as some sort of fact) but I don’t think anyone ever tried to assert it as a fact. With that out of the way, let’s proceed as normal?

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4. Firbolg - February 23, 2014

We may not agree with Waters on the biological fatherhood issue but the limited reporting on the family law courts would not have occurred without him. I think his position is fundamentally mistaken but a lot of the responses simply assume a priori that he is wrong and feel no need to address his arguments in a serious way.

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WorldbyStorm - February 23, 2014

My problem with Waters on that issue is that while perhaps more than half right his identification with same has in my reading of his writings on the issue pushed him to a position of tilting towards a situation where he simply does not see that there may be points where fathers rights have necessarily to be circumscribed. As it happens I’ve seen fairly close at hand examples where fathers were in my opinion hard done by through the system but also where entirely correctly mothers were given precedence. I’ve no issue with attempting to push to a more equitable position in the first while accepting in certain cases the second may pertain (and obviously vice versa). I just do not get the sense that Waters sees it that way, which is his right, but a position I am deeply sceptical of.

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5. Johnny Forty-Coats - February 23, 2014

The comments on this thread are giving an unusually high reading on my intellectual dishonesty detector.

To take Breda O’Brien first, she stated in the interview that the only significant legal differences between civil partnership and marriage relate to the status of children – hence her mention of surrogacy and her argument that same-sex marriage would increase the demand for it. One may disagree with her views, but I can’t see any flaw in her logic, nor did I detect any vagueness in her replies.

John Waters is accused of believing that fatherhood is very important. In that, I feel sure he speaks for a large majority of people. Doubtless, there are some who sow their seed with, eh, straight abandon and move on long before three trimesters have elapsed, but most men have an emotional attachment to their offspring. Similarly, there may be a few people who don’t care about who their relatives are or what their ancestors may have done, but most of have a deep interest in such things. I would say that it is fundamental human right to know the identity of your genetic parents and to be able to research your genealogy. I can think of no circumstances in which it would be legitimate to withhold such information.

Some comments have suggested that Waters may be psychologically disturbed. The big grey elephant in the middle of Cedar Lounge is his religion [cue sneers, derision, eye-rolling, etc.] Yet this month’s issue of “Alive”, the free Catholic monthly paper [cue more of the same, but I find that it gives me a useful insight into the views a significant section of the population], features an article about an address Waters delivered to 200,000 people in St Peter’s Square, in the presence of the Pope. Here’s a flavour:

‘For him, the renewal of his relationship with Christ, “after a painful journey”, was “a liberation”. He discovered that “in this Person, in this relationship, was the central truth about myself.” Some people today, he noted, believe that knowing Christ would require them to turn their backs on curiosity, progress, enlightenment and freedom. But far from it. Rather the encounter with Christ “requires us to look more deeply into reality, to see its true nature” he said.’

I’m not religious, but I see no reason to question either Water’s sincerity or his sanity. What I do find myself questioning is the impulse driving the campaign for the gay-marriage. If it develops into a latter-day Kulturkampf, and their are early signs that it might, then I predict that we’ll see a bigger upset than at Nice 1 or Lisbon 1.

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WorldbyStorm - February 23, 2014

The problem with much of what you say us that it is based on assumptions and what appears to be at least one straw man, perhaps two. I’ve already pointed out twice before on other threads that I have no antagonism to religion or religious feeling ( how could I, I’m not an atheist) – something you didn’t bother to acknowledge in your enthusiasm to assert your ‘moderation’ and kinship with the ‘mainstream’ though your assertions in regard to that are somewhat undercut by your use not of a mainstream Catholic periodical as representative but the avowedly radical conservative Alive as exemplar.

Breda O’Briens inconsistencies in this regard are admitted by herself!

And just in relation to rights over fatherhood you might think that the case but there are states in the EU where no such absolute right is agreed (IIRC Spain springs to mind off the top of my head, the Czech Republic too, possibly the UK and others) and this after consideration of the issue in many instances so while your opinion may be that is fundamental others right up to state actors take a different view. I tend to be closer to your thoughts in this than the opposite but I wouldn’t see it as an absolute or pretend that it is incontrovertibly so.

Finally ‘kulturkampf’… Really? Really? We’re discussing on another thread the issue of how much current events impinge or inflect polling responses and the answer is not as much as some would like to think. You might reflect on that before serving up such hyperbole.

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Johnny Forty Coats - February 23, 2014

For someone who likes to use the term “self-referential” as a criticism, your message is surprisingly self-referential. I have never discussed your religious beliefs and I have no intention of doing so.

The subject of my message (written at 1:00 am after consuming three pints and a fish supper, so my apologies for the typos), was the extraordinary level of ad hominem abuse directed at John Waters on this thread: “He be crazy”, “paranoid”, “a shagging hypocrite”, “probably has difficulties with regard to his mental health”, etc.

What relevance does the position of “Alive” on the Catholic spectrum have to do with the report I quoted? You ignored the message (that the “crazy”, “paranoid” etc. Waters was invited to address a crowd of 200,000 people in the presence of the Roman Pontiff) and instead criticised the unfashionable dress sense of the messenger – now there’s a straw man!

As for my choice of reading, “Alive” is distributed door to door in my neighbourhood. If Archbishop Diarmuid Martin ever sets up a fully Kosher Catholic paper and has it delivered to my home, I will be happy to peruse it. To be honest, if “Socialist Worker” arrived in my letter box unsolicited, I’d at least flick through it while eating my porridge.As it happens, though, I suspect that “Alive” may be more informative than a mainstream Catholic publication would be: it doesn’t pull its punches and wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s an espresso, not a watery americano.

So there are EU states where information on one’s ancestry isn’t recognised as a human right? Who would ever have imagined. Let’s see now: Spain – isn’t that where they hold political prisoners as far away from their homes as possible in order to put further pressure on their families? The Czech Republic – admirable policies they have in relation to their Roma minority, don’t you think? The UK – didn’t they launch an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq a few years back? Before you say anything about straw men, let me spell out the point: these states cannot possibly be cited as examples of good practice in relation to human rights.

I’m afraid I can’t detect even a tangential link between the latest polling results and the current thread – though that might be due to the after-effects of those pints last night.

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WorldbyStorm - February 23, 2014

“For someone who likes to use the term “self-referential” as a criticism, your message is surprisingly self-referential. I have never discussed your religious beliefs and I have no intention of doing so”

And this from the previous comment:

“The subject of my message (written at 1:00 am after consuming three pints and a fish supper, so my apologies for the typos), was the extraordinary level of ad hominem abuse directed at John Waters on this thread: “He be crazy”, “paranoid”, “a shagging hypocrite”, “probably has difficulties with regard to his mental health”, etc.”

Is lovely, except in the previous comment you wrote this:

“The big grey elephant in the middle of Cedar Lounge is his religion [cue sneers, derision, eye-rolling, etc.]”

Clearly the point isn’t just supposed ‘ad hominem’ attacks on Waters, but a supposed big grey elephant on the CLR.

You, not me, are the person who introduced the issue of religion and not just in relation to Waters, but in relation to this site.

And my point is far from being self-referential in that context since I’m noting that you’ve ignored both myself (and others) actually being either neutral or positive about religion, and frankly, given that you introduce the issue of religion as a problem with the CLR it seems odd to put it mildly that you’d suddenly spring back away from engaging on it with me or indeed anyone else as if this was some terrible social gaffe.

I’ve noted that you use Alive as your reference point in relation to Waters and religion and that Alive is a right wing extremely conservative publication even in the context of the RCC. It is, as has been noted on this site previously, somewhat economical with the truth. You might look that up. So frankly it’s no support at all for an argument to use that source (anymore than Socialist Worker).

As to the issue re introducing the point about the EU, you really must read what I write, I’m not lauding those states, indeed I’ve noted that on the issue of genetic legacy I’d be much closer to your position than theres, but that’s not the point. I’m merely noting that what you regard as a fundamental human right isn’t regarded by others as same and as SoS wasn’t regarded by the Catholic Church as one either.

Finally my point re polling is that far from this being a ‘kulturkampf’ which to repeat is hyperbole, it probably registers hardly at all on most peoples radar’s.

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Johnny Forty Coats - February 23, 2014

Contributors have attributed John Waters’ views on same-sex marriage to his becoming a father, to his hypocrisy, to his having mental health issues, to his having had a relationship with Sinéad O’Connor … and yet you fail to notice a pachyderm in the middle of the lounge? But the views that prompted these ad hominem attacks are, as far as I can judge, pretty orthodox Catholic views. I pointed this out above and do so again now.

I don’t see the relevance of your religious views. Are you arguing that people who have religious views would never attack different religious views held by others? Or are you saying that because you aren’t hostile to religion per se, then the same must be true of all contributors here? Neither proposition commends itself to me.

You criticised “Alive” as a conservative publication but you did not previously express any doubts about the accuracy of the report I quoted. Perhaps these links may set your mind to rest. Here is a reference to Waters’ Rome speech on the website of Vatican Radio:

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/17/pope_francis_calls_movements_to_rome_for_pentecost_vigil/en1-692746

And here’s a photo of him shaking hands with Pope Francis on the same occasion:

http://www.catholicregister.org/faith/item/16362-at-pentecost-vigil-pope-shares-personal-stories-of-his-faith

It is, of course, glaringly obvious that not everyone believes access to information about one’s ancestry to be a human right. If there was a consensus on the issue I wouldn’t have wasted my time giving an opinion. It would be as pointless as saying, “personally, I’m opposed to child labour”. But why did you cite Spain, the Czech Republic and the UK unless this trio carry particular weight?

If I understand you correctly, your argument about the opinion poll is that there can’t be a Kulturkampf because the public hasn’t reacted to a Kulturkampf (in so far as that can be deduced from polls on the state of the parties). Now here’s what I actually wrote:
“If it develops into a latter-day Kulturkampf, and their are early signs that it might …”
Notice the “if” at the start of the sentence and my use of the subjunctive “might”. These indicate that I was raising a future possibility rather than describing the actual position. “You really must read what I write”.

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ejh - February 23, 2014

But why did you cite Spain, the Czech Republic and the UK

Because they were three exceptions to the apparent rule?

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WorldbyStorm - February 23, 2014

JFC, you claim that the antagonism to Waters views is anti-religious even though no-one but you has brought up religion. Moreover you argue that this is some great hole at the centre of the CLR, though I have pointed out that I’m not anti-religious and not an atheist. In other words it’s all your assumptions and projection onto others. Not mine, not others here. That is the relevance of my religious views, to contest your assertion that somehow everyone here (despite your being able to provide no evidence for same at all in the debate on this thread) is warped by antagonism to religion.

I’m not contesting that Waters went to Rome, spoke unto the multitude and shook the hand of the Pope. What is there to contest? How does that bolster or diminish the points being made. I’m certainly criticising Alive! as a conservative publication whose view on a range of issues I’ve pointed to as being deeply problematic where not simply incorrect.You use that as a reference point – indeed again in this discussion you bring religion into it in another guise.

Actually I suspect you’re incorrect in relation to the supposed pretty orthodox views of Catholics. Wiki notes a poll in 2008 which had support for marriage equality at being 58% in the RoI. The other day IONA referenced an SBP/RTE poll which had 75% support for marriage equality. Now, given that culturally at least a vast proportion of the population is ‘Catholic’ it seems reasonable to assert that consequently a very significant number of Catholics support marriage equality. This may be in opposition to Church teaching, indeed so it is, but so what? You’re the one who keeps bringing in the religious angle when no one else has. And you’re the one claiming to outline orthodox Catholic views, but while the Church may hold a position Catholics as a group/mass may hold divergent views and on this and other issues in this state and others clearly do.

What ejh said re Spain etc.

As to kulturkampf, I’ve read precisely what you wrote, and quite apart from the obnoxious undertones to it that term is entirely inapposite given the starkly different contexts. The result of the introduction of marriage equality is in no sense similar to discrimination in law against Catholics. It will see no sanction against Catholics exercising their religion as they see fit in the religious sphere or any other sphere. It will put no priests in prison, it will not force them to marry same-sex couples. There is no ‘if’ about it, no ‘might’ about it. It remains hyperbole. Used simply for effect.

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Johnny Forty Coats - February 23, 2014

The significance of John Water’s invitation to address a gathering of some 200,000 people in St Peter’s square is as follows:
1. It shows that he is recognised as a religious thinker of some stature by persons who are better qualified to assess his credentials in that regard than anyone here.
2. It shows that he is an orthodox Catholic and not an ultra-conservative who is trying to roll the clock back to pre-Vatican II days [and yes, the Pope does decide what is and is not orthodox - the RC church has no pretensions to being a democracy].

Yet those who commented here tried to explain Waters’ views in terms of psychopathology or dishonesty:
“He be crazy.”
“someone who practices being a shagging hypocrite on a large scale (John Waters)”
“I don’t want to stigmatise mental health issues but all that stuff with the clampers in dun laoire and going to jail – is he well?”
“Honestly, I think that he probably has difficulties with regard to his mental health.”
“Waters views on pretty much everything seem to be influenced by the fact that he … got involved with Sinéad O’Connor.”

Hence my comment that the elephant in the lounge – namely, Waters’ religious belief – was being studiously ignored. The comments I’ve quoted above seem to reflect an inability to engage with the ideas of religious believers in a mature and respectful way. Of course, I never said that “*everyone* here … is warped by antagonism to religion” – that’s simply a figment of your imagination. But the rush by *some* to equate a religious world-view with mental illness is disturbing.

As to “Kulturkampf”, I have no real expectation that helmets with spikes on top will come back into fashion. My fear is that there will be a polarised and confrontational “culture war” in which a left-liberal-secularist block will attack the religious understanding of marriage. I can see nothing good coming from such a clash.

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WorldbyStorm - February 24, 2014

You know I’ve tried to address this before, but here goes one last time.

If someone in a discussion here suddenly pops up and says, you know what the problem with you guys is that you really mean religion in relation to a third party even though we never even mention it and that’s the problem that we all collectively supposedly have as an entity, then it’s perfectly reasonable to respond, hold on a sec, you’re the one who brought up religion and moreover I and x and y aren’t anti-religion.

But it’s all a bit strange. Because once more, as with JW’s arrival in Rome what does that prove. Waters himself didn’t mention religion in the statement above at the top of this page, not once.

Are you therefore also arguing that JW has an elephant shaped hole in his discourse, is he similarly some sort of…well… what, a hypocrite or what exactly? I can’t see the failing, can’t see what terrible wrong has been committed here.

Perhaps JW given his appearance at Rome would have done well to be more upfront about the religious aspect, but given that he’s not making an issue of it fair enough, I’ll contest his arguments on the ground of other areas.

I’m certainly not going to drag Church teaching into this (a teaching clearly divergent to the views of most actual Catholics – a not unusual situation for those of us with some residual affection for and engagement with the institution).

In all this it seems clear that you’re the one out of all of us who brings up religion, not me, not others, not even JW himself. That’s fine, if you want to discuss this on religious grounds we surely can try, but it is unreasonable to attack all of us (though not tellingly JW) for our refusal to engage on that ground given the context JW himself has positioned himself in while not doing so yourself if that is the place you seek to make your stand.

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Johnny Forty Coats - February 24, 2014

“Waters himself didn’t mention religion in the statement in the statement above at the top of the page, not once.”

And does this factoid demonstrate? Does Waters have to mention religion in every soundbite before you’ll admit that religion is central to his world-view? It’s not as if he hides his faith under a bushel – if he did, the Vatican would hardly have sought him out to address the multitude in St Peter’s square. Yet even though this much is apparent from as far away as Rome, it apparently escapes the notice of regular contributors to this site.

But let’s listen to the man himself. Here’s a passage from one of his published interviews:

‘Waters criticizes those who think that we have become too clever or smart for religion, stating, “There is no distinction between the religious view and the common sense view when you actually deal with all the facts. When you deal with what nature is. When you deal with what love is. When you deal with what all these qualities are. Then you come to the conclusion, that is as it happens, the religious view.”
Waters believes that once you obliterate the mystery of life and stop asking the important questions about reality and what it means you get bunker mentality. “Gay marriage is a product of this bunker mentality”, he states; where people play with words like equality.’
See: http://collegetribune.ie/index.php/2012/08/gay-marriage-is-a-product-of-this-bunker-mentality/

But to some (again, I never said “all” – that is a dishonest fabrication) of those who write here, Waters’ views constitute evidence of mental illness. If so, there are a great many people in this country in urgent need of psychiatric treatment.

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sonofstan - February 23, 2014

I would say that it is fundamental human right to know the identity of your genetic parents and to be able to research your genealogy. I can think of no circumstances in which it would be legitimate to withhold such information.

A right which nonetheless was denied in Ireland for many years by the state in cooperation with Catholic adoption agencies. It might be timely to remember that for a very long time, the defence of the institution of marriage by the Church and its lay foot soldiers was accompanied by quite brutal legal and social sanctions against unmarried mothers and the virtually enforced theft of their children.

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Johnny Forty Coats - February 23, 2014

That’s very true. In fact, Breda O’Brien made the same point in her interview yesterday by referring to the appalling treatment of kids in Termonbacca orphanage where siblings were never told they were related.

I’d take this opportunity to recommend the film “Philomena” to anyone who hasn’t seen it – I think it might still be playing in a few cinemas.

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WorldbyStorm - February 24, 2014

JFC, your argument is all over the shop. You take issue with this site because it doesn’t mention religion in relation to Waters, but when it’s pointed out that Waters doesn’t mention religion in the above you try to suggest that somehow we’re evading matters. No we’re not and you’re being utterly inconsistent.

Let’s cut to the chase. You’re trying to find fault where there is none. If you’d restricted your point to contesting some of the language used that would have been fine, I’d never have made an issue of it. Where you drag in religion in the way you did and use it as you did then I will.

I pointed out the problems with your initial post above and beyond the religious stuff. I’m tired of the ‘dishonest’ jibe. You’re being deliberately obtuse and attacking this site for no reason I can see. Time to stop. And indeed, if you find us so deeply dishonest perhaps time for you to move on.

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Johnny Forty Coats - February 25, 2014

My argument could hardly be any clearer or more consistent. I took exception to the fact that certain contributors here were portraying John Waters’ expression of orthodox Catholic views as evidence of mental illness. Your failure to grasp this point is more than obtuse.

I did not object as a Catholic, because I am not a Catholic: I try my best to avoid being trapped by doctrines, systems, ideologies of any sort – whether religious or secular. I objected because I dislike ad hominem abuse and deplore intolerance.

The fact that such abuse was directed at one of the leading opponents of same-sex marriage before a date has even been set for the referendum increases my concern that it will prove to be a very dirty and divisive campaign when it eventually gets under way.

But I find that I can agree with you about one thing at least: the atmosphere here has become unpleasant and, having made my point, I can’t see why I should inhale it any longer. I’ll take you up on your advice and move on.

Over and out.

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WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2014

Look, I’ve no problem with people here taking different opposing lines on this or any other issue. Never have, never will. Gandhi for example is an avowed social conservative and that’s grand. As long as it’s expressed courteously that’s fine (and I have and had no problem with you picking up on ad hominem attacks either). But what I don’t want is the site being attacked or the motivations of people here being unfairly criticised. To complain that others in a discussion are acting in bad faith because the discussion doesnt go the way one wants it or in a direction where one can even more explicitly charge them with bad fsith is in itself an example of bad faith. To me it is that simple.

All that said I will gladly draw a line under this now.

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RosencrantzisDead - February 23, 2014

To take Breda O’Brien first, she stated in the interview that the only significant legal differences between civil partnership and marriage relate to the status of children – hence her mention of surrogacy and her argument that same-sex marriage would increase the demand for it.

Demand for surrogacy will always be lead by heterosexual couples past child-bearing age. To avoid this ‘scourge’, O’Brien would be better off seeking to ban marriages for all women over the age of 35. Or promote people having children much earlier in life.

There is also the minor problem of the fact that surrogacy does not require marriage at all – just a lab and willing woman. What makes you think gay couples cannot and are not availing of this already?

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ivorthorne - February 23, 2014

“There is also the minor problem of the fact that surrogacy does not require marriage at all – just a lab and willing woman. What makes you think gay couples cannot and are not availing of this already?”

This is what makes her position weak. These families already exist. Gay marriage is neither necessary or sufficient for gay couples to have children.

If she really thinks that two men raising a baby girl is inferior to a man and a woman raising a girl, then – for the child’s sake – should she not be either demanding that all of these children are taken into care or demanding that the government provide these sub-optimal families with additional supports to make up for their supposed inherent flaws?

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Johnny Forty Coats - February 23, 2014

O’Brien’s argument, as she presented it yesterday, was that the essential legal differences between civil partnership and marriage relate to children.

Here’s an analogy: if I have a laptop and I sell it and buy a new laptop that has the same processor, the same screen, the same keyboard, the same case, but a larger hard disk, then it’s a reasonable to infer that I did so because I wanted a larger hard disk.

She therefore argues that the push for same-sex marriage is inspired by the desire of same-sex couples to raise children. Given that they can’t procreate, same-sex marriage would therefore lead to an increase in surrogacy arrangements.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think that the desire to have enhanced legal protection when raising children is more than a marginal factor in the demand for same-sex marriage, but that’s a matter of judgement. Her argument isn’t illogical per se.

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Mr. ne'er do well - February 23, 2014

Well I hope Mrs. Rosencrantz is better versed in the basic facts of the female reproductive cycle than you, sir!

(If you’re thinking that women over the age of 35 are past their childbearing years)

I have a book on the birds and the bees that I could lend you. Once my nice year old is finished reading it.

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WorldbyStorm - February 23, 2014

True to a point. Of course some women can become pregnant and give birth in their late 30s and 40s and even in very very occasional cases a bit later without medical intervention. Currently though the medical thinking is that it is sub-optimal in terms of both male sperm and female eggs in the late 30s. The effect is quite dramatic.

This isn’t bad as an overview.

http://infertility.about.com/od/causesofinfertility/a/pregnantafter35.htm

And this from it is sobering.

According to statistics collected by the Center for Disease Control, the percentage of live births from IVF procedures using the mother’s eggs decreases with age. At age 31, the percentage of live births after IVF treatment was about 38%. By age 39, the percentage of live births was lower, around 22%. After age 43, the percentage of live births drops to less than 10%.

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RosencrantzisDead - February 23, 2014

Of course some women can become pregnant and give birth in their late 30s and 40s and even in very very occasional cases a bit later without medical intervention. Currently though the medical thinking is that it is sub-optimal in terms of both male sperm and female eggs in the late 30s. The effect is quite dramatic.

This is, of course, what I meant. (I probably should have added ‘optimal’ before child-bearing.) People are marrying later in life. Want to reduce the use of surrogacy and the like? You would need to tackle this, first.

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Mr. ne'er do well - February 23, 2014

Are you possibly extrapolating from data concerning IVF births onto the general population?

i.e. from atypical women with established fertility issues?

Such an obvious example of selection bias, I have not seen in a long while. Thanks much, I’ll use it as an anti-pattern in my Statistics 101 class. Then again, it may be a bit too obvious even for my first year students.

And the implicit assumption that the age of male partner is coupled to the woman’s? Tut, tut.

Try looking at some data that are relevant to the actual population. For example the average age of first birth is already approaching 30 in the Western world and has actually exceeded it in some advanced countries.

Shoddy, shoddy work sir! D minus for you. There are many MOOCs on coursera.org that will give you a basic grounding in elementary statistics. How about trying to learn some?

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RosencrantzisDead - February 23, 2014

Are you possibly extrapolating from data concerning IVF births onto the general population?

He clearly isn’t.

Perhaps some tutoring in reading comprehension might be in order…

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WorldbyStorm - February 23, 2014

Are you possibly extrapolating from data concerning IVF births onto the general population?

i.e. from atypical women with established fertility issues?

RiD is spot on. Reading comprehension difficulties clearly.

Women have issues, for the most part conceiving in their late 30s and 40s, and more than difficulties, impossibilities in many instances unfortunately, because of underlying patterns of diminishing fertility (a bit of application of logical thinking would point to that being precisely the primary reason women going for IVF in their late 30s and 40s). It’s nothing to do with ‘atypical’ women and some supposed majority of women who don’t have these problems.

Perhaps you should stop being so smug and glib about others supposed statistical problems (which by the by rings an alarm bell in my mind) and acquaint yourself with this issue. This is from 2002, but there’s plenty of sources with this info online.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/apr/30/research.health

A woman’s fertility is in decline even as she begins to climb the career ladder in her late 20s, according to new research, and it does not suddenly just start to slump when she hits her mid-30s as used to be thought.

And:

Some of the women Hewlett interviewed had spent agonising years and a great deal of money pursuing fertility treatment. But a woman’s fertility has declined by 95% by the age of 40. Relatively few women are able to have a first baby using their own eggs even with the help of test-tube techniques beyond their 40th birthday. Success rates are higher with donor eggs, but the child will not be genetically the mother’s, and anyway donor eggs are in very short supply.

As to men, although (unsurprisingly given the nature of this society) not examined as closely hitherto there’s strong evidence of a decline in sperm quality and numbers in much the same time frame, though to a somewhat lesser extent. That’s the point I was making. It was very clear.

By the way, as someone who has direct experience of such matters relating to IVF with both desperate negative and thankfully positive outcomes, and knowing many more who did likewise, I think you really need to go back and rethink how and why you came to use the term ‘atypical’ in such an ignorant fashion in relation to women (and couples) who have to go through it.

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6. ivorthorne - February 23, 2014

“Given that they can’t procreate, same-sex marriage would therefore lead to an increase in surrogacy arrangements.”

But they don’t need marriage to access surrogacy. I know a gay couple who had a child through surrogacy. They didn’t need to get married. Stopping gay marriage will not stop gay couples from raising children. It will however, disadvantage the children of such couples because their peers’ heterosexual married parents will be in a legally superior relationship.

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WorldbyStorm - February 23, 2014

Exactly, there’s nothing stopping gay couples from having children outside marriage, I’ve known gay people trying and in some instances succeeding in that goal, and marriage equality ain’t going to change that.

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7. Mr. ne'er do well - February 23, 2014

OK, so here’s what I don’t understand about the whole sorry business.

Panti Bliss was quietly approached by the Labour Party to run as their candidate for the Dublin euro-constituency, to replace that nobody Emer Costello … right?

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Mr. ne'er do well - February 23, 2014

… but surely she’s already running as an Independent?

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Mr. ne'er do well - February 23, 2014

… using her other stage name.

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Mr. ne'er do well - February 23, 2014

… wotzit again, Nessa something or other?

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Mr. ne'er do well - February 23, 2014

… y’all have seen the posters around town, right?

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Ciaran - February 23, 2014

Is your stage name Bartley, by any chance?

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WorldbyStorm - February 23, 2014

+1 Ciaran.

Not clever, not funny. No more of this going to happen on this site.

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8. Garibaldy - February 23, 2014
9. CL - February 23, 2014

Referring to people who are against equal rights for gay people as ‘homophobes’ should stop.
Likewise referring to people who are opposed to equal rights for black people as ‘racists’ should not be allowed.
Words such as ‘racist’ and ‘homophobe’ have a chilling effect on debate.

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Starkadder - February 23, 2014

And referring to people who are against equal rights for
non-Christians with terms like
“anti-Semitism”, “Islamophobia” and “Buddhophobia” merely
“demands that we turn inside out fundamental elements of human society”.

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fergal - February 23, 2014

How would you define Islamophobia? I believe it was first used by French ethnologists in the early 20th century and then laid dormmant until its use by Iranian imans in 1979 against Iranian women who refused to wear the veil after the Revolution. Is there an equivalent for those who are Christians? Is it Christanophobia?I know what anti-Semitism is, and if anybody doesn’t there there are the victims of the Holocaust to remind us. This is not to suggest for one moment that anti-Islamic or anti Arabic feelings do not exist, on the contrary unfortunately.
Is it “Islamophobic” to criticise the Koran? Surely, any belief system, ideology, or religion needs to be questioned? If I mock the Bible, why am I not called a Christanophobic,Genuine question from a non-believer .

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ivorthorne - February 23, 2014

“I know what anti-Semitism is, and if anybody doesn’t there there are the victims of the Holocaust to remind us.”

“Proponents of the concept argue that anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism, anti-globalization, third worldism, and demonization of Israel, or double standards applied to its conduct, may be linked to antisemitism, or constitute disguised antisemitism”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_antisemitism#cite_note-Taguieff-1

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Starkadder - February 23, 2014

As i understand it, “Islamophobia” doesn’t
include criticising the Islamic religion.

Instead, it characterises Islam as
“monolithic”, “seperate” “inferior to the
West”, innately “violent”, and involved in a
“Clash of Civilizations” .

http://www.runnymedetrust.org/uploads/publications/pdfs/islamophobia.pdf

There is also “Christophobia”, an extreme hatred
of Christians that would involve violence and
persecution of Christians.

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fergal - February 23, 2014

Cheers, Starkadder. I’d never heard of the term Christophobia- well, I’ve never heard it in public discourse. Is it possible to criticise the Islamic religion and not be accused of Islamophobia? The Mahomet cartoons spring to mind here..the violent reaction, for reaction it was, was essentially racism. Racism in the sense that one Danish cartoonist produces work and all of Denmark is tarred with the same brush, indeed all the West.For isn’t this what racists do? A black person bumped into me on the street therefore all black people are scum and so on.
Having said all that I think your definition is a pretty sound one.
Ivor- looks like if you cough you’re an anti-Semite!

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10. roddy - February 23, 2014

As a northern catholic ,I would have to say that most people I know would be “a la carte catholics “.Orthodox views don’t really hold sway anymore and SF which draws most of its support from the catholic population in the North reflects this in the position it takes on social issues.While some on here may not like it ,SF would be the most secular of all the assembly parties and suffer no electoral damage for not towing the church line.

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que - February 23, 2014

I recall seeing polling data in a book on 26 cty Irish voters and SF were the most secular. I can’t recall the position of how others were treated. Data was about 10 years ago and can’t remember the book but might see If I can track a link

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Bob Smiles - February 23, 2014

If only roddy. What about Marie stopes? Abortion? Integrated ed? In the six counties still v much catholic in moral terms. In 26 v different I agree

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11. roddy - February 23, 2014

Bob,SFensured Marie Stopes were allowed to stay in Belfast.Catriona Ruane organised a petition of concern which every one of the 29 SF MLAs supported and defeated an attempt by a unionist / SDLP coalition to close the clinic.SF have also pushed through equal marriage votes in every council that they are the largest party in.They are hated by the Catholic right wing as the letters pages in northern papers will testify.

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12. BB - February 24, 2014

JohnnyFC, in a comment above, you mentioned John Waters’ views as follows:

“Gay marriage is a product of this bunker mentality”, he states; where people play with words like equality.’
See: http://collegetribune.ie/index.php/2012/08/gay-marriage-is-a-product-of-this-bunker-mentality/

It might be of interest to see the following link which deals with these very same issues and the role of media.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/columnists/fergus-finlay/fergus-finlay-we-cant-let-fear-get-in-the-way-of-backing-same-sex-marriage-258279.html

There should be a mature, attentive debate on gay marriage and religion (or blog items) without tit-for-tat or tetchy exchanges. I can’t always resist the temptation myself; but I strive to do so.

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