Beyond Consternation


From top: John Waters; Eamonn Kelly

I had and still have great respect for John Waters. I read a lot of his stuff over the years and found him to be one of the most insightful commentators on Irish culture. One memory I have of him was when he was shouted down on the Late Late Show by the entire audience and Gay Byrne (early 1990s) for introducing an ancestral memory idea that argued that the famine still played a part in how Irish people behaved.

This idea stemmed from Epigenetics, the study of how dramatic impacts on peoples may involve changes to gene expression if not the genetic codes, leading to effects that may persist in a society for generations.

Irish historian Oonagh Walsh believes that the Irish Famine may have lead directly to an increase in mental illness in subsequent generations. The point is, the idea has substance and has since developed legs, as they say, no matter how vociferously it may have been rejected by the Late Late Show audience all those years ago.

The effect has been measured and proven and clearly shows that traumatic events like famine in particular leave a genetic imprint on a people which may manifest in how the society conducts itself later on.

I thought it was a really interesting idea, but what I was really struck by was the vehemence of the resistance by everyone to even the notion of such a thing. There was no exploration of the debate. John Waters was roundly ridiculed by audience and host in such a manner as to suggest, to me at any rate, that he seemed to have hit some sort of raw nerve.

That was all in the past, was the sentiment. That doesn’t matter now. That has no bearing on anything, and so on. Or as Gay Byrne pointed out – I paraphrase – I have never heard anything so stupid in my entire life!

This ancestral memory idea informed my own thinking about the impact the catholic church’s authoritarian innings may have had in Ireland. Particularly its input into Irish education, literally moulding minds. And then the later abuse stories, still ongoing, all amounting to a kind of cultural shock, and how this may also still be impacting Irish culture. Only yesterday (May 17th) there was a news report of a group of now elderly men still seeking state redress for sexual abuse perpetrated by clerics.

In an article here on Broadsheet a couple of weeks back, I suggested that the 8th amendment was the last bulwark of the grip the Irish Catholic Church held on secular Ireland and for that reason it would be progressive, a break with a dark past, to vote Yes to repeal the 8th amendment.

I was curious to hear what John Waters’ take on all this might be when I heard, simultaneously, that he was going to be on Eamon Dunphy’s podcast, the Last Stand, and that he had walked out of the podcast after less than 15 minutes.

But in that 15 minutes he dismissed the idea that the 8th amendment has anything to do with the historical influence of the church in Ireland, making out that those of us who believe this are not with it and are raising phantoms of Archbishop McQuaid still “stalking the land”.

John Waters clearly believes that there would be a kind of abortion free-for-all if the amendment was repealed. This alone is worthy of deeper examination because it suggests that he believes that Irish people need “policing” on moral issues like abortion, and that the 8th amendment protects them from themselves.

A suggestion which is also a kind of unfortunate veiled indictment of the priorities of women, suggesting also that he believes that the removal of the amendment would lead to callous women having abortions out of a kind of secular party-animal convenience.

It was a pity the interview was curtailed because the impression I was getting was that John Waters was using all his considerable powers of argument in an attempt to corral the discussion to narrow it in such a way as to be able argue partial questions in a shrunken arena he seemed more comfortable in.

He dismissed, for instance, an attempted discussion on the morning-after-pill as being irrelevant to the “real” issue which was focused exclusively on the rights of the foetus In fact, it was this attempt by Dunphy to broaden the discussion that precipitated Waters’ departure.

That he left when Dunphy pushed ahead to explore other aspects of the debate suggests that he, like many people, is equally challenged by trying to unravel the complexities of such an emotive and complex debate, a position of helplessness and befuddlement he is probably not used to and appears to resent.

The early impression though was that he was not at all open to considering anything that contradicted his already held view, and that in fact his argument seemed designed to rule out the more complex questions of the debate.

You would wonder then, even if he had stayed for the full 40-minute discussion would he ever have gotten near the question as to what such a human rights restriction, a total ban on abortion under all circumstances, is doing in the constitution in the first place, and the implications of such a ban on the rights of women, a restriction that the UN regards as a clear human rights breach.

I’m aware that John Waters has gone back to his Irish Catholic roots in recent years. I read his book “Beyond Consolation” where he argued that Irelands’ rejection of the church since the 1960’s has given rise to a rampant irresponsible consumerism, so it is clear that he genuinely believes that Irish people are not capable of governing themselves without the authority of the Church.

He argues in the book that the church’s greatest harm was in giving the impression that religious belief is externally imposed, this as a result of the church’s authoritarianism, and that the loss is that Irish people have developed no inner religious authority. That Irish people have missed the basic message that God is inside and not outside.

I don’t know about that. Buddhism, among other spiritual practices and religious observances, is popular in Ireland. But the deeper problem about such an argument is the underlying assumption that the only way to rectify such a spiritual deficiency, if such a deficiency even exists, is to restore an external authority as a kind of spiritual policeman.

This is a bit of a cousin of an argument to the view that former colonial powers should be reinstated in their various colonies as a response to the imperial notion that “the natives can’t rule themselves”, the “evidence” being civil wars and other governing problems that arise when the former authority withdraws.

While “Beyond Consolation” offered a compelling personal story of a return to the religion of his childhood, which is his prerogative, the book also revealed a suspicion of secular Ireland that chimed a bit uncomfortably with the often-restrictive doctrines and beliefs of the discredited organisation.

Whatever his personal reasons for seeking solace in the religion that was instilled in him as a child, it is difficult to escape the conclusion, based on the arguments condemning Irish secular society in “Beyond Consolation”, and then in his often irrational-seeming retorts on the Dunphy podcast, culminating in his dramatic walkout and abandonment of the argument, that his personal re-embracing of the Catholic church may be clouding his judgement on the issue of the repeal of the 8th amendment as it impacts on the human rights of women.

From a personal point of view, it is disappointing to see that the thinker who first raised the idea in my mind that the famine may have distorted Irish society, and who was roundly condemned for his insight, cannot also see that the impact of the Irish Catholic Church and all its private crimes against people may have had a similarly distorting and destructive effect on the culture, albeit not as extreme perhaps as the effect of famine.

For these reasons, my own position is that the only responsible and progressive answer in the referendum is to vote Yes to repeal the 8th amendment, as a vote of confidence in secular Ireland to conduct itself responsibly.

Eamonn Kelly is a freelance writer

Yesterday: The Stand-Off


136 thoughts on “Beyond Consternation

  1. Ina.

    John Waters is one of the greatest pseudo intellectuals in Ireland. And that’s saying something.

  2. Shea Carroll

    The interview wasn’t curtailed. Waters walked out. Listen again. And Eamonn the rest of your piece is just faux intellectual nonsense of the like practiced by John Waters .Thankfully I don’t encounter his ” writing ” anymore but there where times when I read his column in The Irish Times and couldn’t make head nor tail of it’s meaning. Is writing in plain English so difficult? And Dunphy is not much better. In Dunphys words and the Dublin I grew up in “a pair of spoofers”.

    1. EK

      “Curtailed” is just another way of saying the same thing, and I had used the term “walked out” earlier. If you keep using the same small group of words the whole time the reader may get bored. There were times when we all read John Waters’ column and couldn’t make “head nor tail of it”, particularly when he began putting out views that seemed odd in comparison to his earlier columns. But I don’t think that’s what you mean. When you say “plain English” I think you are referring to an English made up of words that you are familiar with. That’s not the way it works. And since you have set yourself up as a style critic, are you aware that “head nor tail” is a cliche? Is that what you mean by “plain English”?

      1. Custo

        I would say that ‘the interview was curtailed’ would suggest that the interviewer wrapped things up early, or the signal drapped or there was a power cut. Not that the inverviewee walked out shouting obsenities.

    2. Kdoc

      Yep. At some point he swallowed a dictionary of sociology whole, and from then spoke at length about the impact of this, that and the other, on the collectivity.

  3. painkiller

    He’s certainly an outsider as far as his thinking goes – that hasn’t changed. His views are rarely in fashion.

    My read is that his very conscious that the pressures for these referenda are largely external to Ireland – that the new liberal wave (bringing their post-structuralist cultural-Marxism inter-sectional identity-politics social ideology etc etc) are using Ireland as the chosen destination to achieve grand things, interfering in an abusive manner.

    He took issue with the manner in which the marriage equality referendum was carried out – a low point for freedom of speech and healthy democratic discourse. This caused him to retire from journalism. He’s re-emerged here because at least this time, it is possible to argue the no case without being unfairly slandered publically.

    I watched an interview with him where he claimed to have been given cause to re-calibrate his views in the 1990’s when he saw the emerging modern liberal culture for the threat that it is to the family, to our culture and to our traditional values. In this respect, there is nothing wrong with concluding that religious faith is of more social value, as he appears to have concluded.

    1. TheRealJane

      Yeah, well it’s fine for these social injustice warriors, they never are the ones to bear the brunt of their idealistic fantasies.

      1. Sheik Yahbouti

        Couldn’t agree more, Jane. Waters, Mary Kenny – dyed in the wool conservatives who partied and ‘did bold things’ when they were younger. The party is now largely over and they revert to type – guardians of everyone else’s morals, with the paper thin authority of being “published” at some stage. I think John should work out his problems with Sinead (and women in general) in some professional setting. Why should the rest of us be burdened with it?

        1. martco

          great comment Sheik, you hit the nail on the head there

          also, why in jasus we pay any attention to their likes has always been beyond me

        2. painkiller

          John Waters was a liberal in the 1980’s – or at least, bought in on what liberalism stood for at that time. He saw the ideological trappings later and turned away from it.

          Seriously, I know it’s the internet and everybody knows everything but far as the partying comments go, he is a reformed alcoholic so I’d be a little more humane with that. And was he not married just the one time? And what do you know about the circumstances that brought about the end of that marriage? Come on. He speaks out about how unfairly men treated by the family court system in Ireland, so I would assume he is disgruntled. I am not aware of any ways in which he has treated women disrespectfully but maybe you could enlighten me?

          This should be more about the validity arguments he makes, rather than him as a person. Nobody is perfect.

          1. SOQ

            No he was never married but that didn’t stop him from campaigning against equal marriage.

          2. Sheik Yahbouti

            What are you talking about? Point out where I said he had been disrespectful to women. Further, how do you know I’m not a raging alcoholic? As far as I know I made no mention of any such issue. Try pulling me up on what I say, rather than what you imagine I said.

          3. Lilly

            An à la carte Catholic, even now. I recall him mentioning a partner around the time of his Vatican visit. It hard to respect such wishy-washiness in his own affairs. When the repercussions affect others, he has no problem being black and white.

        3. Paul

          The suggestion that we are collectively dealing with the fall out of John’s personal life and that he needs professional help with that is a bit low tbh.

    2. dan

      ‘post-structuralist cultural-Marxism’ Stop listening to Jordan Peterson, his brain’s full of lobsters.

          1. Paul

            Mildred, please re-tie your tether to the sink and await further impregnation with the rest of your sex.

          2. Paul

            Please, as long as you don’t mind ceding control of your bodily autonomy for the few mins it takes to make it. Double ham and cheese please dear, you know how i like it.

          1. dan

            @ Clampers Outside None of that has any relevance to his ideological spoutings, have you actually looked at what his peer reviewed papers are, or his contributions? Have you seen any of the times he’s lied in court?
            Whatever authority you think his ‘scientific credentials’ might imply, his dishonesty and affinity for junk science and Christian regression, demolishes.
            He’s not ignored in the relevant academic fields because he’s revolutionary, he’s ignored because he spouts an incoherent mish mash of discredited pap.

    3. Listrade

      What external pressures were there in 1983 for the amendment? Was that Marxists too?

      1. painkiller

        It was another power group….but we should all be conscious of power groups who control the narrative of the day. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

        1. mildred st. meadowlark

          No but learning from our history is important. And using what we’ve learned from history to make a better society and future for others is important.

          1. painkiller

            Well, running as far away from where we were is very different to knowing where we want and need to go. I don’t enjoy the anti-church undertones in some of the other Repeal threads. We are free from the church now – most recent figures show 33% of the population attend mass regularly (20-22% in Dublin)…I would assume the stats for the under-35 category would be very revealing as to far from the church we have moved.

          2. mildred st. meadowlark

            I think that there are many people, myself included, who are very angry at the church – and the State for facilitating it – for their role in our history. It is bleak and cruel and I would say most people in Ireland could say they know someone whose life was negatively impacted by the Church’s actions. They have fought at every turn the opportunity to make reparations for the many scandals attached to their name. They refuse to accept responsibility unless they absolutely have to. Can you blame people for being angry.

            I think we have a way to go before we’re free of the church – in that we have a true separation of Church and State. In a number of generations, perhaps we will have less far to go. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a lot to do, a lot to repair before we can say we’re truly free of the church.

          3. Sheik Yahbouti

            Wrong. “the Church” still pervades our Civil Service, our Government and the institutions of thr State – health, education etc. We are so far from its influence I could cry.

          4. Lilly

            Our schools aren’t free from them, unfortunately. Or our hospitals. Mass schmass.

          5. Paul

            IMO we are one generation fom the removal of the churches influence in our business, not long at all. A lot can happen in 10 years.

          6. Paul

            Yes I suppose the problem being that some people view foetus’ etc as others and so want to include them in that better future.

          7. mildred st. meadowlark

            And some people see women’s bodies as not their own and seek to control their choices in that way.

          8. Paul

            I think it’s important to note that everybody views everybody else’s body as their own except when there’s another person inside it at which point they seek to maintain that body in a condition which will allow the person inside it to live until he/she is able to live on their own.

            Incidentally this is a right we have all enjoyed as people unable to sustain ourselves, you too Mildred.

          9. mildred st. meadowlark

            Paul, that’s where you’re wrong

            Just because I happen to be pregnant, that doesn’t mean I forfeit ownership or authority of my body. It’s still mine. At the end of the day, I still make the decisions. The foetus doesn’t become autonomous within my body just because it’s there.

            A woman who wishes to be pregnant, well she certainly will make sure that she accommodates the growing foetus until it’s born. But a woman ought not lose her rights over those of a foetus.

            As I’ve said before, I’m not saying that the foetus doesn’t deserve rights. I am saying that the woman’s rights and wishes ought to be listened to and respected first.

            And with regard to my own experience. I was an unplanned pregnancy, and my parents discussed aborting me. In the end they chose not too, which is nice for me. But if they had, I’m not sure I mind either. Because I would be here to care, and I certainly don’t remember the embryonic stage when this discussion between my parents occurred. I don’t see that my right to life then was a given, though I’m grateful that it was.

          10. Paul

            I hear ya Mildred, nothing you are saying is that unreasonable and you’re right to feel like you’re being short changed because you are tbh. Only problem is that someone in the equation has to be short changed – you or the other thing inside you that some view as a human also. Neither of ye chose this but someone has to pay, who should pay and with what? You with an unplanned pregnancy and all that comes with it or the thing with it’s life? If guilt can be apportioned (maybe it can/ maybe it can’t ) who is more guilty you or the thing? Is the punishment you suffer going to final or is the punishment the thing suffers going to be final?

            Also, you say your parents debated aborting you and you wouldn’t have minded as you wouldn’t be able to remember – we are all descended from single cell organisms. They evolved which obviously required some sort of memory to achieve and so you might easily remember being a clump of cells in your ma listening to them debate about keeping you but it might just not be the type of memory you use now.

          11. mildred st. meadowlark

            The ‘punishment’? Now, if we’re discussing hard cases, then yes, in circumstances yes, it can be seen as a punishment. But if you’re talking about an unplanned pregnancy, then it’s maybe a bit much to call it a punishment. But that’s just my own experience. But as you say pregnancy is about more than just those nine months. There is still an infant, a child, an entire person and life of responsibility. I don’t say this to mean it as a bad thing though; this is what it is to have a child. It is accepting another life you have responsibility for.

            So it seems a bit disingenuous to say that it – the ‘punishment’, as you called it – has an end date. It doesn’t. And as I said, in many cases it’s far from a punishment. But women ought to have the choice because it such a choice to have to make. It’s so life-changing to bring a child into the world. Is it any fairer on a child to bring it into a life where you know it will experience abuse or neglect, whether because of personal choices or circumstances beyond your control? How is that any fairer?

            And I’m not sure I take your point about cellular memory. It’s essential, yes, but only in how our code is written. What possible bearing could abortion have on cellular code, and how does that possibly connect to memory at all? I’m not sure what parallels you’re trying to draw here.

          12. Paul

            I’m calling it “a punishment” not necessarily from the point of view of the female (although it is still kind of a punishment for her being forced to go through pregnancy against her wishes) but more from the point of view of the entity being terminated, surely you can agree that termination in all it’s finality is akin to a punishment here? And that one of them will suffer a “punishment” of sorts?

            Then you say I’m being disingenuous – ok perhaps I am, it could be given up for adoption (in my head) but yes that doesn’t always go to plan and can’t be as simple as it sounds.

            Is it fair to bring a child into a situation of abuse or neglect? My perspective would be even more to the right – is it fair to bring an unwanted child into the world when we’re running out of space and resources for everybody..but I don’t know, I guess you’d have to ask that person at some stage down the road if it was happy it was allowed live? I’m not comfortable playing god like.

            The bit about cellular memory was just something I’ve often wondered about re consciousness and when it develops as some people use this as their start point for turning from pro-choice into pro-life (we’re all pro-life really it’s just that our pro-life thinking kicks in at different stages throughout the pregnancy) and I’ve often thought that given that we don’t understand consciousness that there could be different levels to it and that cells themselves might have a form of it that our stupid adult brains can’t really comprehend.

          13. mildred st. meadowlark

            I don’t see abortion as a punishment. It’s awful and unpleasant and something that no woman ever actually wants to experience. But it’s necessary. And as long as there are women out there who need to make that choice, I support them and I support abortion.

            And I suppose that’s where we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          14. Paul

            Ok but from the point of view of the thing who’s existence is being terminated I’m assuming that you can see it as a punishment? I mean terminating one’s existence is literally called capital punishment in countries where it’s legal.

          15. mildred st. meadowlark

            You’re splitting hairs Paul. I’ve already said all I’m going to say on it lest we start chasing our points in circles.

            I think you’ve made some good points, certainly enough to warrant second thought, and you’ve done it without it resorting to mud slinging on either of our parts. I think that’s an achievement considering how emotive and heated debate has gotten over the past few weeks. But my mind has been made up on the subject for a long time and nothing I have seen or heard since then has been compelling enough to change my mind. I have my own personal feelings on abortion – but those are mine alone, and not for me to enforce on another woman. And I think that’s the crux of the issue for a lot of people.

          16. Paul

            Your reluctance to answer the punishment question and instead referring to it as splitting hairs is quite telling I think but ok, I can see you’ve said your piece and still seem happy enough with the thinking behind it after hearing my piece.

            As for it coming down to people’s personal opinions i think you’re quite correct in saying that – I just wish we could use a better method of analysis than personal opinion as that can change drastically with time and information (at least in my own experience) and what’s at stake is potentially as grand as it gets right?

            Anyway, back to the sink with you now dear ;) just kidding obv and you also have given me food for thought

          17. mildred st. meadowlark

            If you would like a definitive, clear cut answer on the ‘punishment’ question, then I’ll answer. I felt I’d answered it well enough through my previous comments, I certainly didn’t intend to come across as evasive.

            Yes, it is a punishment, I suppose, of sorts for the foetus. I’ve said already that I think the foetus does deserve rights, but they do not supercede those of the mother. So, yes, the foetus will be ‘punished’. I don’t think I see it in those terms – as a punishment. Because I don’t see a 12 week old foetus, an embryo as having the same capacity for life, existence, pain, memory or anything that is essential for existence outside of the womb at that stage, because medically at that stage it doesn’t have that capacity. This isn’t about what I personally believe though. It is about granting women the right to choose. And you have to remember, just because the 8th may be removed, it doesn’t mean women will magically turn into baby hating monsters. Many will still choose a pregnancy, will still choose the responsibility of another life. Abortion is often a last resort. I can’t see that mindset changing over night.

          18. Paul

            Ok thanks, so it’s a punishment (of sorts to you) and I’m sure we can agree that’s it’s 100% final in nature and I’d say we can also agree that the entity being punished is always 100% innocent in comparison to the other entity which may or may not be innocent.

            Now as for when you say you would be reluctant to give it equal rights based on your perception of it’s capacity for life that’s your call I guess but for me that capacity is already there – it’s already doing shit that living human organisms do, maybe not them all yet but whatever.. seems kinda arbitrary to say that seen as it’s not doing certain things then it’s rights are reduced and especially the whole living outside the womb thing as there are plenty of humans on life support or living and being assisted by something that we can’t just terminate at will.

            I hope that you can see how if i think like this then the concept of giving certain people the “right to chose” to terminate this things existence is completely lost on me. I really dislike that concept as it totally disregards that i think that this is a human life – like why would I give something the right to chose to kill another human? Not blaming you but maybe that refrain would be best kept for like minded people.

            As to your last comment suggesting people who think like me see some women as baby hating monsters – c’mon now there’s no need for that sort of misdirection from either side, or is there?

        2. Sheik Yahbouti

          Another one who feels he didn’t get a fair shake in family court and it’s all the fault of ‘de wimmin’ and de ‘feminazis’ – Jaysus (would have) wept

          1. painkiller

            Again, apologies to cut your dance, but would you be able to enlighten me as to the extent of what you know about the family court system? Have you been through it or do you know anyone who has? I love your cool detachment about it. Not sure feminazis as you call them are so keen on marriage, and more power to them.

            And to respond to above, you commented that he partied in his youth. I merely pointed out that he became a fully-blown alcoholic and had to kick it in the late 80’s so it’s fair to assume his partying wasn’t necessarily glamorous.

          2. Sheik Yahbouti

            painkiller. 35 years in general legal practice. Plenty of family law (my most hated task). Is that good enough.

          3. mildred st. meadowlark

            My mum used to work in the family courts. She said it was heartbreaking.

          4. Sheik Yahbouti

            Ah, it’s dreadful. No happy endings, but if you’re lucky at least an ending.

          5. Paul

            I feel like this is a blatant misrepresentation but i’m open to correction – did he feel aggrieved by the law or by the actual court and “de wimmin and de feminazis” ?

    4. SOQ

      Unfairly slandered publically? The man is a dyed in the wool homophobe and Rory O’Neill just called him out on it.

      1. painkiller

        Ah come on….he’s not. He just has his convictions. People bandy around the term homophobe and nazi too much these days. It’s upsetting – because we need to be able to identify the homophobes and address them properly! You will know a homophobe or a nazi by the lengths they are willing to go to air their prejudices.

        John Waters has nothing against gay people from what I have seen – he made a valid point that same-sex marriage should not be seen as a free gift to give to the gay community – a gift in lieu of historical persecution. I think the historical persecution is tragic and a cause for reflection of our society (previous generations more-so) but while it’s separate to the question of what marriage is, it was used to win over the middle in that referendum and I take his point.

        1. SOQ

          He actively campaigned against equal marriage. He is a bigot and a bully. I have absolutely no time for him.

          1. painkiller

            It wasn’t out of bigotry that he campaigned against it tho….for him, marriage is about the nuclear family, and anything that seeks to undermine that should be seen as a threat. He’s just a traditionalist, and reactive to the power balance of the day. I take him with a pinch of salt sometimes but he’s not the worst of them.

          2. Nigel

            It’s hard to parse gay people getting married being a threat to families as anything other than homophobia. It’s certainly not rational.

        2. Sheik Yahbouti

          “A gift”? Who de fupp asked him, or anybody else for a gift? Those men and women campaigned for civil rights. Wake Up, for your own sake.

          1. painkiller

            I don’t know about you but I asked around at the time and if I was to gauge it, I would say the average well-intended guy (in particular) voting yes was thinking, it’s time to make reparation to gay people for how they have been treated in our society – the question of marriage was of second order or lower, so as John Waters said, just a positive gesture and if you’re against it, you are some sort of homophobe. It’s a divisive tact and pulls away from subjective thought. I’m kinda with him on that. Were civil rights not awarded under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010? And if those weren’t sufficient, why not focus on parity between Civil Partnership and Civil Marriage?

            Just to put all this in context – because it’s important; I say this as a person with plenty of gay friends, relatives and colleagues and I’m far more interested in them as people as opposed to some nebulous social group they are supposed to conform to, and in my view, it’s absolutely shameful that we lived so long in a society where a gay person or gay couple had (and still have) to be wary of themselves given there may be people around them that seek to harm them. This is where the fight is – actual homophobia, and we all need to step up when we see that kind of thing happening around us.

          2. Sheik Yahbouti

            I’m not trying to ‘harsh your buzz’ or do you down. it’s just that I personally believed that if the gays wanted to marry then they should be allowed to do so. I didn’t have to parse and analyse for eight months, I didn’t have to consider morality. As long as they were adults it was fine with me. Why complicate the matter?

          3. SOQ

            Because by complicating the matter it justifies treating gay people differently. Then, the metric of equality is malleable.

            Waters should just FO and mind his own business. If anyone wants his opinion on their personal lives they can ask him.

        3. Martco

          have you ever met the man personally? I can only say in my own experience he’s not a nice person & he’ll never set foot in my home again. It’s just my opinion of course but none of the outbursts he has suffered upon us over recent years has surprised me in the slightest because frankly the man is an arse.

          Ah! In general I’ve never ever understood why people fawn over & have a such a need to listen, read, regard & form their own thoughts around the likes of so called thought provoking intellectuals such as himself, human nature I suppose but a pity. What the hell does he actually contribute, really? Like he’s Marie fupping Curie or something!? For me he’s just unnecessary noise, a professional controversionalist scam. unlike Vicky Phelan for example, now there’s a leader.

          1. Sheik Yahbouti

            No truer word, Martco. in my view there are the “bloggers, the Social influencers, the bogus intelligentsia” – and then you get to the passionate, strong. clear thinking women like Vera, Emma and Vicky, who are facing difficulties I would never have the strength to deal with. All the fashion gurus. diet gurus and morality guardians fade away – like the insignificant poo they are.

          2. painkiller

            I haven’t met him but I’ll take you at your word. You must have been out of Earl Grey or something. David McSavage isn’t supposed to be a very nice man either, but I’m not going to tune out just because of that. I agree Waters something of a contrarian but I think he’s guided away from a movement he sees as power-mad and he makes valid points occasionally at least. I suppose he’s been there long enough that his name generates interest. In this case, he’s not good for the no side – Maria Steen knocked the ball out of the park in the RTE debate, so they should lean on her more.

            I don’t know how to feel about Vicky Phelan drawing lines between the HSE standards scandal and the provision of a line in the constitution that allows pregnancies to be terminated as seen fit. It strikes me as being a bit useful but more power to her for voicing her views.

          3. Lilly

            Spill the beans Martco, what did he do in your home?!! We won’t tell :)

            + 1 on Vicky Phelan. Talk about separating the men from the boys – so to speak. I love that, at her most vulnerable, they couldn’t gag her with cash. A powerful woman.

          4. sparkilicious

            @painkiller. Maria Steen knocked the ball out of the park? Seriously? I guess if Stepford Wife ice maiden condescension dialled to 10 is your bag, then yeah. In the longer term, the media consensus that the No side ‘won’ that prime time debate might actually prove to be more contentious than the outcome of the referendum, whatever that might be.

  4. nellyb

    “1960’s has given rise to a rampant irresponsible consumerism” – how does it compare with distasteful ostentatious gilding of Vatican and its occupants, with all that bling bling and 500 euro notes in holy wallets, lol :-) Tunnel vision John Waters is forever trapped in, despite his intelligence. But he’s legion.

      1. martco

        out of interest has anyone ever handled a €500 note?
        I’ve come across a couple of €200’s in my time…but a 500?
        like what’s it’s purpose even? to make it easier for the 1% to carry cash thru the airport?

        1. Sheik Yahbouti

          Yes. it exists, but a povo such as myself has never seen one – other than a photograph.

  5. Lilly

    ‘he argued that Irelands’ rejection of the church since the 1960s has given rise to a rampant irresponsible consumerism’

    Can we take it so that he has swapped his flash car for a Toyota Corolla?

    This is timely because just this afternoon I went to the Famine exhibition in Dublin Castle. It makes sense that something so momentous would reverberate for generations, and leave a legacy of shame. We didn’t need Waters to point that out.

    And let’s face it the Late Late Shoe audience is unlikely to be made up of the great thinkers of our time. They’re there to clap like seals when told there’s one for everyone in the audience. Of course if Gay discounted any train of thought, they would follow suit.

    1. EK

      At that time the Late Late Show was still the main forum for national debate. It was TV, Twitter, Facebook, talk radio and tabloid mouthpiece rolled into one. It had reach.

      1. painkiller

        Well, he’s standing by his haircut almost as well as he’s standing by his convictions….we aught to respect that much!

  6. Paul

    I really feel like if the pro-life side has distanced themselves from the church on this it would’ve been hella easier for them.
    Let’s be honest here they might as well have a swastika behind them as a cross with how the church is perceived by many voters these days.

    1. Sham Bob

      unfortunately, like it or not, the church’s stance permeates the No arguments conciously and subconciously. From the 150 year-old doctrine that life begins at conception to the idea that women should be forced to give birth at all costs – didn’t holy Mary do the same and some childless couple would love the baby you were forced to bring to term ? The mother as a vessel, there being a new soul aka human from the get go. Airbrushing the church out of this is pure spin.

      1. Paul

        Ah now, it’s not pure spin. The church does have some views on the matter which coincide with logic (in my opinion) but suggesting that they are the originators of the logic is more spinny.

          1. Paul

            Much as it pains me to say it but you’re probably right there. A lot of those driving the pro-life movement would admittedly be pro-church too.
            Not me though for what it’s worth – I’d prosecute every priest and congregation member for knowingly being part of and supporting an organisation that did/ does what they do assuming the law would let me.

  7. Sheik Yahbouti

    BTW Eamonn I’m sorry to be in disagreement with you on this particular subject, but I do not believe Waters is worthy of your admiration.

    1. EK

      My admiration is from way back when, at a time when hardly anyone said anything. So back then he was interesting. This doesn’t mean that I agreed with him on everything, it was more that I noticed that a handful of commentators who did have an opinion on anything tended to be shouted down to a degree that for me often said more about Ireland than it did about the commentators. Waters, Fintan O’Toole, Dunphy for a while when he was “learning” sociology in his spare time. They were voices in a wilderness really, a wilderness ruled by Charlie and FF. I noticed somewhere else on the comments that someone said Waters spoke well of Charlie later. I do recall that and recall being angry, because it felt for me at the time as a kind of betrayal. He went increasingly in another direction after that, culminating in his current position, one that I still find a little incredible. If I have been over-generous to Waters, as some claim, it is because I remember him speaking out, whatever his particular opinion might have been, at a time when most people moved quietly with the herd. That was the example I took from him and that is the quality I admired.

  8. Sheik Yahbouti

    PS since I need to supplement my meagre pension, my advert in the ‘Gregorian chant ‘ thread still stands :-D

  9. sparkilicious

    Eamonn I don’t know you and I’ve never read you before but you have an engaging style of writing. It probably helps that I’m disposed to your outlook on this subject but I think there’s more to it than that. Carry on.

  10. Mé Féin

    At the risk of getting shouted down: What kind of impact has the loss of the Irish language had? Or what kind of psychological impact compelled people to abandon it?

      1. Mé Féin

        Hmmm. You can speak two languages, you know. Look at the Netherlands, Iceland, Denmark. The new language doesn’t push the old language out of your head.

  11. Brian

    I know ye’ve adopted a yes thing here but do you think maybe the yes side can be as militant as the no gang?

  12. Sham Bob

    Thank you for reading and analysing his poo so we dont have to. A humane take down of a very strange dude

  13. Brian

    I thought the whole thing is about empathy? That’s bullshit. I went on one of those trips to England….didn’t bother me a fupp. She was very upset though. I (Capital I<-meaning me) had no idea what she was after going through even after. It was all very abstract to me. That’s not something I’m very proud and I wish I could say it was longer ago than it was. I’ll be voting yes of course. But men have no idea. It should be a vote that women only have.

    1. Nigel

      It’s not that men shouldn’t have a vote on this, it’s that it’s appalling that women’s health has to be subject to a constitutional referendum. If men don’t vote we’ll have to go through thus again in ten years if we’re lucky twenty more likely and never if we’re really unlucky. The idea that men agree with the right to choose but plan to not vote because ‘men shouldn’t have a vote’ is mind boggling and an incredible abdication of responsibility

          1. Clampers Outside!

            Your comment here, logically concludes, that women are more anti-choice than men are, as you say the vote would be lost if men don’t vote….
            It also implies logically that men are not just more in favour than women, but so much so that the pro-choice men would make up the difference and add enough extra Yes votes to win it….

            This is something you have said before is absolutely not the case, yet here you are, saying it is the case….

            hmmmmm…. :)

          2. Nigel

            No, sorry Clamps, I can see where you’re coming from, but what I meant wad if some men who are pro-choice abstain because of the idea that men shouldn’t have the vote they”ll merely cede part if the the field to men and women who are pro-life and who have no such qualms. If seems ridiculous thinking to me until I heard it said out loud on the radio. If a portion of the Yes electorate rule themselves out on these grounds that’s potentially quite damaging.

            As for proportions, I really couldn’t say. We’ll know more about that after the vote.

  14. Brendan

    Does anyone recall Waters admiration for Haughey. At time of his death John wrote that Charlie enriched himself not for himself,but for us. And if he lived in a Gandon mansion,it was also for us.All to prove that the Irish had finally arrived home ! As for himself & kip country Dunphy, I am delighted for both of them,could’nt happen to two nice people. The author of this piece is far too generous to Waters.

    1. Nigel

      There’s a video of him at some Catholic conference talking about the Tuam babies discovery as something cooked up to discredit the church. He’s rotten.

  15. EK

    The discussion seems to have gotten side-tracked into an analysis of John Waters character, which is valid under the circumstances given his stance on these issues, but the main thrust of the article was to focus on the need to vote Yes to the 8th amendment in order to disempower those who use that leverage to impose their views on the rest of society. Apart from the emotive aspects of the debate that Waters and other No enthusiasts try to keep the debate focused on, I see the issue as a straight choice for secularism over church control of people’s private lives. It is my impression that many of the people who call for No, the likes of Ronan Mullen for instance, often seem less interested in the moral questions they profess to be concerned about and more interested in the political power that the 8th amendment affords them. For these reasons, a Yes vote is for secularism over church control, and a vote to disempower our homegrown christian fundamentalists. If you have been affected by No propaganda and find yourself wavering due to scare propaganda, Vote Yes for secularism. If you barely care one way or another, vote Yes for secularism. This opportunity won’t come around again for another generation. If it comes to it, vote Yes simply to disallow busy-bodies telling other people what they can and cannot do.

    1. Paul

      Vote yes simply to disallow busy-bodies ? Jesus there’s a bit more to it than that imo but good luck to you if you can reduce it to that level of simplicity and you’re probably right too along some abstracted lines – those busy bodies are trying to screw us over and subvert our democracy so that it aligns with their faith. Only problem is that their faith unfortunately aligns with logic on this issue imo so I’m stuck voting with them.

      1. EK

        Oh don’t be so dumb. You know quite well what I was doing. But I can see you’re happy to select one comment to go to town on. Talk about levels of simplicity. I stick with the claim that there is a large element of busy-bodyness in the No campaign. Yourself being a perfect example of the species.

        1. Paul

          Stick with whatever claims make you happy but advising people to vote a certain way just as a retaliation against those who care the most is perhaps poor advice at best.
          Sorry if this is offensive to you but you can’t be saying silly things like that and not expect to be called out on it.

          Also I would (very respectfully lest you take offense again) suggest there’s plenty of people who could be referred to as busybodies on both sides.

          1. EK

            You care the most, do you? Where’s your proof of that? Because you are toeing some moral line set by a discredited church? And why are you going on about my “taking offence”. I’ve seen this tactic used by No people before. It’s a kind of gaslighting, to suggest that the opponent is “irrational”. It’s ugly and underhanded and sly and worst of all, it smacks of training. And as for my taking a position and calling for others to vote Yes, I do so in a more civilized manner than some of the people on the other side going around this country with their scare tactics and offensive pictures and fake arguments, presenting themselves as holier than all. Many of you people are a disgrace to the moral codes you purport to represent. To suggest in a democracy that a person disagreeing with you is “retaliating” against those who “care the most” is sinister and a sentiment that poses a very real threat to that democracy. I’m calling on people to vote Yes to remove that offensive article from OUR constitution. And I have every right to do so. I don’t need your permission. Now, if you wish to frame my response as “anger”, that’s your business. It would be just another underhanded strategy on your part. For all the moral talk and posturing it is quite clearly the No side that is playing games with people’s lives for cheap political gain.

  16. Frilly Keane

    For the week that’s in it
    I’m going to put it to a Joe Duffy type lightening poll

    Frilly Waters ?
    Let ye have yere say:


  17. Rob_G

    “I read a lot of his stuff over the years and found him to be one of the most insightful commentators on Irish culture.”

    – this maybe explains a lot about your previous contributions on Broadsheet.

  18. EK

    What do you know about it Rob? You volunteer nothing, ever. You’re just a sniper. Ireland is full of your type. Black holes for information, spitting out minimal bursts of energy every now and then. You’ll never be shot down Rob if you never say anything. Play it safe.

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