Is all Marriage Created Equal?


After watching the now stratospheric speech by Panti Bliss in the Abbey theatre I had an uncomfortable feeling. Why was ‘she’ so angry at ‘me’? Why did she repeatedly utter the words ‘I check myself’ almost to the point of complete irritation. Why was I so annoyed?

If you don’t have the patience or interest to read this full piece, no problem; here’s my opinion now. Same sex marriage should be allowed, the laws changed as soon as possible.

If however you are wanting to know why I am bothered to write this, well read on.

The Panti speech was brought about by her alter ego’s (Rory O’Neil) appearance on RTE television. There he was asked about the Iona institute, a confederacy of dunces if ever there was one. The institute is a group based in Ireland who are against gay marriage are keen to uphold the sanctity of tradition. He referred to John Waters(guardian of all things traditional and father to a pop singer’s love child) in Iona as a homophobe and subsequently the broadcaster had to get the chequebook out to appease Waters and the institute.

Now all this publicity was doing very little for any policy changes, except to unfairly fill the coffers of Waters and his cronies. Seeing this, many people took to the streets outside government buildings to protest in a sea of rainbow coloured flags and pink t-shirts.

Inside Leinster House there seems to be an overriding feeling that things have to change and change quickly. Then again only the liberally minded have spoken. It is surely a no brainer right? If two people want to convey their love via marriage what’s the problem? Well yes you would think that but then you would ignore the reality.

It is thought that this law will pass through with much less fuss than last year’s emotive abortion bill, but personally speaking I have my doubts. Like so many C-list celebrities in Ireland, Rory O’Neill and David Norris are charismatic and generate polite applause wherever they go. Both have been responsible for bringing gay issues to the fore time and time again and that is to be admired. Vitally both are extreme attention seeking extroverts; neither of whom faithfully represent the community they wish to serve.

But they’re only human, and if half of Hollywood pretends to fight for human rights in Africa, whilst somehow always managing to keep themselves in the limelight, then good luck to them.

Ultimately if this change in marriage law is to come to pass it will not be because some drag queen’s video went viral. Despite Panti’s plea for the rest of us to take a long hardlook at ourselves we will all walk into the voting station that day and tick a box for yes or no.

image sourced from phillipinenews.com

Ireland likes to think of itself as forward thinking, modern. Those days of Catholic guilt have long since passed. And yet how often do you see a gay couple holding hands in public, either on the streets of Galway, Monaghan or Dublin? Most of us wouldn’t be offended to see it and yet the prevailing mood in the LGBT community is that they feel it is unsafe to do so. Even still we are all pretty certain that this new law will be rubber stamped? Something isn’t right there.

If I was running this campaign I would immediately enlist the help of some people who I can connect to. Everyday people with everyday jobs who don’t call me names because I am taken aback by their cocktail dress, six inch heels and five o clock shadow.

So you’ve gathered by now I am a homophobe. Well if drag queens make me uncomfortable then yes I guess I am. I’ve been called worse. It doesn’t mean that I want things to say the same, that I don’t want to evolve. That I admit I am wrong when I use the words ‘gay’ and ‘faggot’ without thinking.

How do I sleep at night? Well quite easily. In the realm of things calling people names is not that big a deal. Then again I am not in a minority. The last time I was when I lived in Asia for a year and as a white man was called ‘bule’ by the locals. Was that racist? Yes but I wasn’t offended. Aren’t I great?

For people who do get offended by being branded a homophobe well you’ve had it for all of three weeks. Try a lifetime of hurtful abuse, that much Panti Bliss was exactly right about.

Persecution or even the thought of not having your opinons heard is a scary thought. Look at how many people come out to vote nowadays. We don’t care until we’re insulted. And yet if the vote was taken away from us tomorrow there would be an outcry.

A lot of people reckon this referendum will be a nice smokescreen, a chance for the government to gain to some credibility before hitting our wallets with new taxes. Maybe that’s true.

But if there’s anything going on it is that there is just a slight(and long overdue redress) in the balance of what it’s okay to say and not say. The majority of the gay community is fighting back because they are frustrated. As tax paying citizens of this country they want to have the same rights as everyone else. They don’t want to be told what to do in their private lives or that their relationship doesn’t mean as much as a man and woman’s.

On the other side the more traditional point of view, led by zealots from the likes of the Irish Catholic and Iona institute. They will run on the ticket of the nuclear family, mother and father with two kids, the whole bit. They feel that adoption will become some kind of transfer market akin to deadline day on Sky Sports, well that might be interesting to watch.

These two are going to be at loggerheads for the next year and a half until the referendum takes place. Us, the disinterested majority will stand in the middle, some of us mildly entertained others reaching for the remote to change the channel.

And the crazy thing is, we the apathetic many will decide, just by sheer numbers. Can you imagine that, your life being shaped by someone who doesn’t care either way?

A lot of people will only give their opinion on that ballot paper, when it is confidential and quiet to do so.

image from nytimes.com

My parting advice to the reform alliance parties out there is to get prepared. Prepared to bite your tongue and choose your battles wisely. Don’t assume that because you are right that you will win. Do not lower yourself to the dark arts of guilting the public into voting your way. Worse yet don’t play the ‘it doesn’t matter and it won’t affect you’ card, the last thing this nation needs is another excuse not to go down the road to vote.

Learn to appreciate the art of charm, something which always seems to go down well in Ireland for some reason.

I hope you win.

I watched the Panti video one more time whilst writing this. Have to say I began to warm to her.. Maybe I just needed to get used to her.

This post is guest post. For more on guest posts and how to submit pleasefollow this link.

20130919-172951.jpg

Hi, my name is Ray and I live in Ireland. I am slowly learning how unfair life is and dealing with it accordingly. Currently I live at home with my parents at the tender age of 32, having decided that success and a nice abode of my own was all too predictable. I presently work as an Intern, which in Ireland means, the same as everywhere else in the western world (no job prospects!). My principle interests include observing soccer players secretly laughing at the rest of us, wrestling with the reality that sometimes you’re better off not trying, wrestling full stop oh and fast food, consummation and critique thereof. I don’t like long walks along the beach, Monday is my favourite day of the week and if there’s an American TV show out there that you love and can’t stop talking about chances are I probably despise you.

Hopeful Wishing


I work four hours a day in Korea. It’s great. In the States I’d be working more than twice that to maintain the same income. Even more hours would be needed to realize the same lifestyle I enjoy here (nothing outlandish, I assure you). The Koreans with whom I work are not paid as much as I am for the same work. They work more hours than I do as well. They face similar problems to those of the US middle class, [i] especially with regards to competition for a good job, as exemplified by the fierce academic environment. 

High levels of unemployment are staggering all across the globe. At home in Minnesota, most friends of mine are able to maintain jobs, though some can’t find enough hours to make ends meet. Just a few have incomes that keep up with inflation. With regards to the nation, only the top 5% of Americans have earned enough money to keep up with the rising housing costs since 1975. The income gap widens each year[ii], as ultimately, the government serves those who keep them in office. If this were a fairy tale we would desperately need Robin Hood right about now.

Cary Elwes, won’t you save the day?
Cary Elwes, won’t you save the day?

The only things that are trickling down are diminished benefits and lack of upward mobility. Indeed, “degree inflation” encroaches the college-educated job seeker and effects future prospects for all workers.

That old interview question “where do you see yourself in five years?” is irrelevant. Nobody knows the answer to that except those who had retirement plans that they are now putting on hold, or banking executives who seem to be laughing at us, even at congressional hearings.

Crony capitalism has severe side effects. Jobs are being lost at exponential rates due to increased red tape for employers and a  slew of regulatory measures which are put into place by unelected bureaucrats.[iii] How is this our reality? What are our ever-so-vigilant media conglomerates missing?

ben2Contrary to nearly every statistic offered up by the news, here are some more facts. As of 2007, the bottom 80% of American households held only 7% of liquid financial assets.[iv] It’s a difficult number to surmise, but if unemployment rates are anywhere close to the 7.2% reported by the Bureau of Labor than 1 out of every 5 of Americans wouldn’t be relying on food stamps.

It is numbingly enraging to know we have to watch Wall Street bonuses increase year after year. This is something the media reminds us pretty constantly, so it loses its effect. There is no more shock when we hear about it night after night, for five straight years. After the “wolfs” tore apart the market in which all of us were forced to place our money,[v] they got to pay themselves off with government money- taxes we’re forced to pay but have no say in how its spent. Has anyone paid for their crimes with any time? That’s a dangerous idea according to Eric Holder. He maintains that “if you do bring a criminal charge—it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” [vi]

Well it already has, and the fact that nobody has brought forth criminal charges shows us that the US Department of Justice has no plans to prevent it from happening all over again.

It now takes a staggering 35 weeks, on average, to find a job in America. This does not leave for much room when it comes to bargaining for salary. As well, 40% of those who are employed are through low paying jobs. This is the reality of the new “lost generation.” It’s no wonder that we are having a difficult time. There’s no way to develop or grow (as human beings must do to thrive) when living paycheck to paycheck, and 61% of employed Americans are doing just that.

C’mon Holder. Do your job. Or is this the best you've got?
C’mon Holder. Do your job. Or is this the best you’ve got?

We must help ourselves, since nobody on top is going to look out for us. I maintain that it has always been our responsibility to make decisions and learn from our own mistakes. By raising our children in loving and caring environments and allowing them to grow we can foster a better environment for morally fit leaders in the future.

We’re being held up by the banks, and the getaway car is being driven by our own government. To begin, we require a state and laws that aren’t bought and paid for.  A plutocracy will never allow for fair competition. Considering now, for the first time in history, the banks own more of US residential housing net worth than the rest of Americans combined, it may be a good time to look at alternatives.[vii]

Hopefully, we can lower our material desires as consumers instead of increasing our debt. Eventually a tide will turn, when corporations become victim to their own assaults of government collusion.  At some point company executives will be the only ones who can afford their own products. Only when it comes full circle, will this vicious cycle come to a halt.

We need a new paradigm. Working 40+ hours a week is no longer something we need to do. We must instead focus on helping each other become healthier and happier people. We’ve got the technology to allow us to live more fruitful lives. We just haven’t been utilizing it correctly (see NSA). We may find a balance if we have time to devote to creative and spiritual endeavors. There’s a huge mess to clean up here. A few jobs will be opening up along the way. Where do you see us in five years?

 

This post is guest post. For more on guest posts and how to submit pleasefollow this link

BenHaynes

Ben Haynes has resided in Seoul with his wife, Ren, since 2011, where he is regarded as a local hero. He has the foresight of a community channel televangelist. He leads with the fortitude of Aurelius. His sweat is sweet as freshly squeezed juice. Villagers whisper giddily when he walks by. He enjoys a good book and cold glass of beer.

 


[i] *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_time While Koreans are now being forced to work less by law,  many have, in recent years, worked up to and beyond 60 hours a week.

[ii] 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1%

[iii]The 2013 Federal Register. It contains over 80,000 pages of new rules, regulations, and notices all written and passed by unelected bureaucrats https://www.federalregister.gov/index/2013

[iv] BusinessInsider fdrurl.com/un2

[v] New laws are being passed to force employees to participate in company 401k plans. http://www.moneycrashers.com/new-401k-law-helps-companies-force-employees-into-saving/

[vi] New evidence sheds light. As was earlier suspected, Eric Holder is indeed, a dick http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/jan/09/financial-crisis-why-no-executive-prosecutions/?pagination=false

[vii] BusinessInsider http://fdrurl.com/un2

 

Peter Clarke


By Ray Hyland

The first adults you meet in life will forever leave an impression. Family notwithstanding you rely on your teachers and headmasters to guide you along the early roads.

Personally speaking I don’t think Dunboyne realises how lucky they had it. Peter Clarke served the area with great distinction, a place right on the edge of Dublin,for so long rural, growing rapidly as housing estates shot up as quickly as you could build them.

Many dreaded when their class teacher would be occasionally absent,for fear of the principal coming down to take the class for the day. I for one loved the tales of mice running around the skirting boards of the old school and the nuanced pronunciations from the teacher’s copy of Buail Liom. Not to mention the P.E class out in the mucky field,O’Neills footballs flying everywhere but scarcely over the bar.

That school was far from perfect. But while there was always sadness at the end of each summer holiday there was never true dread. Staying on the right side of the tracks just seemed the most sensible course of action when you heard of the legends of meter sticks and canes. In my experience the legends were just that, as mythical as those school plays whereby enthusiastic actors turned up for a production of Tir Na Nog.

There were problem children(your writer included,especially in junior & senior infants) and for them there was the principal’s office; a cologne fragranced mass of papers and a filing cabinet with a long lost typewriter sitting atop of it. Rare was it that you visited this room for anything other than bad news. Thankfully its charms remained a mystery for the most part.

Not unlike that fascinating Mercedes Benz, a cream coloured behemoth with left hand drive. Some lucky boys were even afforded the opportunity to be chauffeured home on occasion, but only if their grey uniform had not withstood the onslaught of a puddle and they faced the day in wet trousers. Mr.Clarke always had a bit of style.

Looking back on it, admittedly with rose tinted specs I’d say they were happy years. Nothing seemed out of reach, everything was possible. The school trips were always a real treat. We had Wexford and a trip to the Heritage Centre in 4th class. Any chance of misbehaviour was quickly culled when we saw we not only had Willie Lyons but also our headmaster to contend with. The train home was class though, crisps,coke and a game of snap.

Going back as a secondary school first year for a ‘visit’ the place seemed much smaller. To be greeted by the silver haired principal was proof that we were now on our way, headed for the real world whether we wanted to or not.

I only saw him a few times in the years after Dunboyne National School. He looked like a man enjoying his retirement. The hair was of course still silver and the smile never seemed far away.

Farewell then sir, I will be thinking of you at the three o’clock bell.

This post is guest post. For more on guest posts and how to submit please follow this link.

20130919-172951.jpg

Hi, my name is Ray and I live in Ireland. I am slowly learning how unfair life is and dealing with it accordingly. Currently I live at home with my parents at the tender age of 32, having decided that success and a nice abode of my own was all too predictable. I presently work as an Intern, which in Ireland means, the same as everywhere else in the western world (no job prospects!). My principle interests include observing soccer players secretly laughing at the rest of us, wrestling with the reality that sometimes you’re better off not trying, wrestling full stop oh and fast food, consummation and critique thereof. I don’t like long walks along the beach, Monday is my favourite day of the week and if there’s an American TV show out there that you love and can’t stop talking about chances are I probably despise you.

Guest Post: All Foreigners Come Back


About two years ago Conor wrote a real nice piece about me as I had just left Korea. It’d been a pretty long journey for me as I’d been there for five years. As Conor wrote I was pretty excited to do some things I’d been saving and planning for a while, but beneath all that was some anxiety as my long term plans were still unclear.

It’s a long story but the short version is my first job out of college was teaching in the Midwestern United States. It was a tough place with a lot of challenges, and after two years I decided to leave. I had the idea in my head that I accomplished something, and thought I now deserved some fabulous life or something like that. Basically as soon as I left my life went downhill. Lots of different things went wrong, had some ugly experiences etc. One thing led to another and I ended up taking a job in Korea.

I was hesitant to go, but I was really upset and angry about how my life turned out. Looking back on the previous few years I felt I had nothing to show for myself. Suwon South Korea ended up being my new home, where I taught English at a public middle school.

Almost as soon as I arrived things turned around. The saying probably is true that there’s nothing like your first year in Korea. The kids were so excited to see me. Do you know what it is to walk into a room and have 40 kids cheering for you? One of them would write “Handsome James” on his tablet and hold it up like a sign. I couldn’t walk the hallways for a while because the kids would see me and get so excited.

Jim’s middle school in Suwon.

That first year I didn’t go out much, but I was happy because I pretty much had a good time at work every day. I made a few new friends, and eventually started getting out more, doing the whole Itaewon and Hon Dae thing, seeing bands etc. During breaks I also got to travel to a lot of places I always wanted to go. I went to Japan a few times, Australia, the Philippines, India, China, Thailand, and a bunch more.

Along the way I changed a lot, and one day when I was out playing basketball with my kids something really hit me. I should have kept that job in the Midwest. It took me almost ten years to figure it out.

I never thought I’d do five years in Korea. Especially those first three, I generally believed every year that “next year” I’d be going home. Cut to the end of 2010, it was almost 2011, I had some money saved up and had been in prayer about leaving at the right time. I was working on my birthday which is right before Christmas when I found the note on my desk. Due to budget cuts, once my current contract would run out on September 30th of 2011 I would not be renewed.

Several other foreigners would have the same fate. I’d heard rumors this was coming, so it wasn’t a total surprise, but still it really hit me. This is it, it really is over now. If this had happened a few years prior I’d have been more upset about it, but I just accepted that it was time to go.

So I soaked in every moment of those last nine months. It helped that the new batch of kids that came in were fantastic. That last year was probably my second best year in Korea as far as the job went.

Then that day came Conor wrote about that I hopped on that bus, and I was excited. In just a few weeks I’d go to the New York Comic Book Convention and meet the legendary Stan Lee. I’d do a cross country road trip; self-publish a few books and sell them at shows, and do all these things I’d been planning and saving towards, but then what?

Jim with his poetry book at the Poet’s House in New York City

Culture shock was something I’d never experienced, but coming back to my hometown that’s been getting worse and worse, seeing old friends go through hard times, not seeing people you expected to see, and just generally being back in western culture was a lot to deal with. Reverse culture shock hit me hard. When a westerner comes back from Korea their friends and family tell them they’re glad they’re back where it’s “safe.” They say this because they love us and they mean well, but they don’t understand that we were quite safe in Korea, maybe even more safe than at home. I’m eating pasta at a Pizza hut in Suwon when some high school boys I don’t know come in. They’re excited to talk to me and offer some of their pizza. I’m walking down the street and some Korean teenage boys walk the other way and it’s “Hi what’s your name where are you from? You are very handsome! Nice to meet you!” Now I’m not saying they’re perfect angels who never do anything wrong. I’ve heard “Fuck you James” a few times as well. But in my own hometown that summer I was back a 15 year old boy followed me and a friend down the street yelling and cursing at us acting like he wanted to fight us. That never happened to me in Asia.

Doing my cross country road trip was great. I’d seen a few old friends I hadn’t seen in 10+ years, went to a few places I’d never been to before, but some of it was really heavy for me too. I went back to my old school in the midwest and ran into a few old students. One of them even said to me “We told you not to leave and you fucking did anyway!” I was coming face to face with what I did wrong.

However there was another personal situation which I won’t get into which was clouding my judgment, and I kind of blew a chance to go back to my old school. Now I was in a situation where I needed to start working soon and didn’t’ know what to do. Times like this you go with what you know, and, Korea being Korea, I was quickly offered a job.

All foreigners go home, and a lot of foreigners end up coming back. Almost exactly a year after I’d left I was back in Korea. Even though the reverse culture shock was hard to deal with, I wasn’t happy to be back. It was for a lot of reasons, but in short I was only coming back for a job and didn’t like that being the only reason I was coming back. I was real pissed off for a bit, but luckily it wouldn’t last.

This time I was out in the country side, kind of like being out in the midwest. The kids were great. I got to see a few friends that were still in Korea, got to meet Conor’s +1, and made some new friends along the way.

Still I knew what needed to be done. Last summer at maybe 2 in the morning I made a phone call and got the news that I got my old job back. I did feel bad for having to break contract with the Korean school, but I figured I’d do the summer camp so I wouldn’t totally screw them over.

Jim’s new/old school in the US

I was ready to leave Korea this time, and that’s the thing. I wasn’t really ready to leave the first time. Coming back helped me realize that I shouldn’t stay in Korea forever, as much as it’s a good life and an easy life, I’m not meant to be a lifer.

So what’s the point of all this? I don’t know. Conor asked for guest posts and this came to mind. I guess I’d want fellow teachers to know that there is life after Korea. Reverse culture shock can be really hard to deal with, but maybe reading this will help someone out there.

Both times when I went to Korea I did so hesitantly, but both times that country gave me a lot of healing and got me straightened out inside. In some ways Korea really saved my life. I’ll be forever thankful for that.

Dae-Han-Min-guk!

This post is guest post. For more on guest posts and how to submit please follow this link.

 

smiley jim

James Murray currently teaches high school social studies in the mid-western United States after traveling the world a bit. He enjoys movies, old cartoons, and a tall glass of milk. When he has spare time he attempts to write. In 2012 he started Hard Coal Studios for his self published comic books, poems, and prose. His website can be found at www.hardcoalstudios.com and he blogs at jemurr.wordpress.com/

Guest Post: Davy’s Day Cometh


Everybody needs a hero, whatever walk of life they’re in. Sporting ones seem to hold an especial one in people’s lives. I’ve been very fortunate to have befriended many of my heroes over the years. People like Noel Meade, Trevor Brennan, Colm O’Rourke and Graham Geraghty. Heroes are particularly important in a sporting context – they inspire the next generation.

Three days after Dublin regained Sam Maguire, photographs were got with the grand old trophy after Bernard Brogan Snr stopped into a local hostelry while passing through the area. The joke on the night being that it’ll be the occasion a Meath man will hold Sam for a long time!

Not too much would be wagered on that being the case. Not only because of the progress Meath have already made and the talent that’s already coming through. Also due to some of what transpired on the local club scene of late. Now, unfortunately, circumstance deprived yours truly of the opportunity to see any action on the said weekend, but in the space of 24 hours Meath heroes of yesteryear Ray McGee, Donal Curtis and Geraghty – all either in or heading for their fourth decade – turned in inspirational displays for their clubs.

Seeing them still so effective at this stage tells you just how blessed we are as a county were to have them in their prime. Any youngster lucky enough to see them in action – even now – will surely have been inspired. Just as Clare hurling captain Pat Donnellan admitted he had been inspired by Ger Loughnane and his team from the 1990s.

Croke Park in Dublin: where many a hero is made, and where plenty of characters have played. (imagae courtesy of Wikipedia)

Maybe there’s no explanation for it, but, ‘colourful’ characters are generally the greatest heroes of all. Brennan, Paul O’Connell, Paul Carberry. Davy Fitzgerald though, is the king of them all. He was the first goalkeeper I can recall coming up and scoring. After he did so in the 1995 Munster final – and won his race back between the posts – there was only going to be one winner.

Then there was his outstanding save against John Leahy towards the end of the ’97 All Ireland. Similar result ensued. Davy Fitz is different. For example, where most would cower at the thought of facing down Henry Shefflin from close range, Davy thrived on it. Yet, it’s that very diffence that makes him one of the greatest characters the GAA has ever seen.

Davy is, in a sense, like Roy Keane – either love or loathe him, no grey areas allowed. This of course is a fanciful thought, but personally he’d convince me to run barefoot across The Burren in mid-November. Indeed, chances are he makes his current Clare players do it!

It’s indicative, however, that they’d most likely do it for him. Unfortunately, there’s an element out there that like to snipe and sneer at the great man from Sixmilebridge. Viewed from a fairer angle, he has to be one of the most passionate and inspirational people many of us have seen. His passion is infectious.

Davy Fitzgerald giving it socks! (Image courtesy of breakingnews.ie)

It must be said, mind you, that he has been extremely fortunate to have an exceptional bunch of players to work with. Talented underage sides from recent years yielded players such as Cian Dillon and John Conlon and Darach Honan. Add in that the county has put U-21 titles back to back fuelled by the likes of David McInerney, Colm Galvin, Tony Kelly, Podge Collins and Shane O’Donnell and that they have the McCarthy Cup for the winter shouldn’t be a shock.

Still, great players turned respected coaches such as Ger O’Loughlin and Anthony Daly saw their native team come up short under their care. When the Davy Fitz factor was added, for the majority of the season, it was a long, long way from Clare to everybody else! And as was said when Dublin won the football recently it may take quite a bit for other teams to get where they are.

With Clare, the evidence may be even more obvious. Factor in that stars of the most recent underage success Seadna Morey, Cathal O’Connell, Niall Arthur and Peter Duggan couldn’t break into the senior team and Loughnane’s assertion that they could dominate for years isn’t hard to believe. If Davy Fitz is guiding the ship it should be an unforgettable voyage to utter greatness.

This post is a guest post. For more on guest posts and how to submit please follow this link.

brendan boylan

Brendan Boylan has been writing since he as 14, professionally since 2001. He ahs been a freelance journalist for all of his adult life, specialising in all things Irish but mostly on sport. His greatest enjoyment comes from the sport he holds most dearest which is gaelic games, or as we Irish call it, The GAA, and a close second would be his passion for horse racing. He always dreamed of beinga  farmer, and this year that dream came true. His next goal is to get into writing about farming on a regular and professional basis.

Visit Brendan’s website boylantalkssport.com or follow him on twitter @BrendanBoylan