Tuesday 6 December 2016

Social changes are not always for the better

Review

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 02/05/2016 | 02:30

Eilis O'Hanlon. Photo: Kip Carroll
Eilis O'Hanlon. Photo: Kip Carroll

An elegiac piece on RTE Radio One's Sunday Miscellany from novelist Julie Parsons imagined the Protestant community in Dun Laoghaire, or Kingstown as it then was, as the murmur of guns on Easter 1916 began a process that changed their world forever, and how that community slowly drifted away from the Republic that followed.

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Sunday Miscellany is a show that deals in nostalgic evocations of time, family and place, but this - together with another piece by Bryan MacMahon on Timothy Finn, who fought against the British army in the city that day and then died a few years later fighting for it on the Western Front - was a timely reminder that it can deal with more complex subject matter, and that there are many different Irelands.

On Tuesday's Newstalk, Moncrieff discussed another complicated issue, that of so-called revenge porn - the posting of sexual images of a former partner online either to humiliate or blackmail them.

What was interesting was the way in which the websites which host this material are able to hide behind their "first amendment" right to free speech. The problem, Sean's guest explained, is that the images themselves are not illegal, so countries can do little to shut the sites down unless they're being run in the same jurisdiction, which usually they are not.

That same day, an author of a new book about the secret online world of teenage girls spoke to The Anton Savage Show on Today FM, describing the even more disturbing phenomenon of boys and girls as young as 10 sending explicit pictures via smartphones to other users, often as a result of being manipulated or bullied.

Sometimes it doesn't even need that. Young people know that provocative pictures on social media attract more "likes", so they're increasingly being lured into a hypersexualised culture from whose clutches they then simply cannot escape.

As Nancy Jo Sales put it chillingly, this is nothing more than child pornography, which is meant to be illegal, but it is children themselves who are now producing it. In less than a decade of their existence, she said, smartphones have "completely transformed, some might say completely destroyed, childhood".

Talking on the line to Shane Coleman, who was sitting in for George on The Right Hook, Eoghan Harris lifted spirits with a typically feisty analysis on Wednesday of negotiations for the new government, during which he mocked "Fine Gael trots" who thought the threat of another election would get them their own way, when it was they who had most to lose, and lambasted left wing and independent TDs now predicting gloom and doom.

Cynicism is an easy stance to adopt, but Harris showed that optimism can be equally infectious as he looked forward to a "good three years of democracy".

Drivetime went instead with Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger, who sounded rather miffed for a woman claiming that her political opponents were on the run.

Sunday Independent

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