Several years ago, I gave a talk on The Common Causes of Miscarriages of Justice in The University of Milan, subsequently published by Kluwer.
Professor Luca Luparia, an estimable man, but I suspect a very religious man, always perhaps a failing, took me to a lovely little church full of Christian bones and skeletons. An ossuary. Perhaps a lesson or an intimation or the sort of lesson I have always resisted. Santuario Di San Bernardo 10 minutes walk from Duomo, but a world apart.
Well I do not want to meet my maker yet Luca? I choose the light Eros not Thanatos and I certainly do not want to be thrown to the lions. That is, if I can choose? Can anyone? We are all powerless before god and acts of god, to use a legalism which describes the pandemic.
Though the persecution of the Christians evident in the ossuaries is yet another example of awful human barbarism, there are others such as the Crusades or the destruction of Inca civilization by venereal disease on behalf of the church,or all sorts of pogroms and acts of genocide. secular, tribal, religious or atheist. Crimes against Humanity.
It should be noted that the barbarities of virus lockdowns have no intrinsic demonised enemy, as in other such crimes, though the weak suffer the most. Thus compassion, christian or secular compassion or indeed moderation, l vote in favour and it is not much in evidence in these awful times.
Also pertinent In Milan is Santa Maria Delle Grazie where Da Vinci’s restored but battered Last Supper resides. Now I am not a fan of the clunky prose and dubious speculations of Dan Brown, but it is a fact that the church suppressed the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the fallen woman. Mary Magdalene is, of course, the inspiration, such an oddly resonant word, for the Magdalene Laundries.
I visited another Catholic bone ossuary subsequently in Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic while a visiting professor. I am a terrible cultural omnivore and it had exactly the same effect in terms of memory and reflection. Memory of the history of infamy as detailed above.
Let us atone for our sins? Give Up Yer Aul Sins, as in the title of a CD and an Oscar-Nominated animation. The church profited from at the expense of children as they often do and still do and I historically represented a client who was not compensated by them, but oddly by EMI based in London.
So she was abused or exploited also by the church as they did in the persecution of the Magdalene Laundries and the non-payment of compensation. Here is the video they made millions from featuring her as a five year old.
Some souls are worth more than others? Some girls or indeed boys are better than others? Sinners are discounted or exploited. In God we Trust Inc.?
Though in this day and age we have all been thrown to the lions, not least by the greed, not just of rapacious Catholicism and consiglieres to the Vatican such as Mr Peter Sutherland, but to the world wide wealth cartelisation and the corruption and manipulation of the innocent.
And now Ulster Bank is leaving the country and Goldman Sachs and Cerberus will likely step in. More evictions and repossessions in the centre of the storm of a global pandemic.
So the full force of our odium and contempt should not be reserved for those who seek to break minor lockdown regulations. It is a misplaced moral outrage.
The full force of odium should be reserved for those that murder, for that is what is is, children and babies in Magdalene Launderies and Mother and Baby Homes and those that cover the deeds up in useless reports and time delays with a very belated and pointless act of apology or exploit children reciting bible stories for commercial gain to line the coffers of the church and their own pockets. To baby farm the innocent. Or use vulture funds and corporate transnational entities to funnel wealth out of the country while evicting those in the country.
Throwing Christians to the lions with politics, bread and circuses and a vastly overstated emergency at one level that is pandering to excessive compliance, control and the destruction of liberal democracy, as Lord Sumption argues, as well as the obliteration of the leisure and small business community.
The full force of odium should be dedicated against the inappropriate adults in the room creating a Road To Serfdom for all the children and indeed child adults of the universe.
So awful though the Magdalene laundries and other historic crimes against humanity were and are in certain sectors of the globe let us focus on the present crimes against humanity of economics and ecocide and the all too obvious creep of a police and authoritarian state morphing the universe into a form of sanitised Chinese capitalism where as all the indicators show the major corporations and law firms have had profits escalate during the pandemic and one wonders why?
Who is profiting from what. the infliction of misery, the selling of dud products, the mining of our identities or perhaps an even more complex derivative for the further cartelisation of wealth into ever narrower hands,
The trends Arundhati Roy identified in Capitalism A Ghost Story (2014) where huge swathes of India were dispossessed and left to die or simply murdered have taken an insidious grip in the developed world and It is tolerably clear who are suffering and stand to lost their jobs and livelihoods and, as Sumption and I both maintain, that precious sliver of protection afforded by civilisation and liberal democracy of rights of liberty, movement and privacy.
The thin blue line steadily eroded. a kind of reversion to a form of social primitivism. The dying of the light.
David Langwallner is a barrister specialising in public law, immigration, housing and criminal defence including miscarriages of justice. He is emeritus director of the Irish innocence project and was Irish lawyer of the year at the 2015 Irish law awards. His column appears here every Tuesday and Friday. Follow David on Twitter @DLangwallner