One rule for those on the left and another rule for those on the right
Published 05/08/2011 | 05:00
The double standard of liberal Ireland has never been more starkly revealed than by its reaction to the David Norris revelations this week.
Had a bishop, or even a prominent conservative politician or commentator, written a similar letter to a court pleading for clemency in a statutory rape case, the condemnations of that person would have been heard the length and breadth of the country for days on end.
David Norris has had to withdraw from the presidential race, but if a well-known Catholic such as Senator Ronan Mullen had written that letter, his political career would be over as well. He would be hauled before some Seanad committee or other in the manner of an Ivor Callely, and reduced to atoms.
David Norris's supporters say he acted in a misguided way because of love. But if Senator Mullen had written a letter seeking clemency on behalf of a priest who happened also to be a childhood friend, no such excuse would be granted. He would still be destroyed.
Senator Mullen would be annihilated for the letter alone. If it then was discovered that he constantly touted this priest, years after the priest's conviction, as a 'human rights' standard-bearer because of work he did with say, the homeless, it would be so much the worse for him.
And if it was discovered that he had given an interview some years before in which he seemed to justify pederasty and opposed a legal age of consent, he would have to leave the country such would be the opprobrium heaped on him.
For one thing his views on pederasty and the age of consent would be read in light of his defence of his friend.
When liberal Ireland doesn't like you, and you give them an opportunity to condemn and vilify you, they do so with relish.
Thus, when Kevin Myers used the word 'bastard' in a column on single mothers some years back he was put on the Carousel of Condemnation and not allowed off it for a week.
When Mary Ellen Synon wrote a column in which she made admittedly over-the-top remarks about the Paralympics, she was also condemned for a week and her career was very badly damaged.
Similarly Cardinal Desmond Connell was put on the Carousel of Condemnation on several occasions for perceived offences that had nothing to do with the child abuse scandals.
One was when he said that it was a 'sham' for a Catholic to receive Communion in a Protestant Church because it indicated a union with that Church which didn't exist.
Cue another week of condemnation.
Another was when he said his Church of Ireland counterpart, Archbishop Walton Empey, was not a high-flyer theologically.
And then there was the time David Norris himself had great fun at Cardinal Connell's expense when he said Connell "knew a lot more about angels than fairies".
We all know how the Carousel of Condemnation works.
Had RTE chosen to put Norris on it, they would have invited condemnations from the Rape Crisis Network, One in Four, the ISPCC, the Children's Rights Alliance and as many politicians and commentators as they could find, and then they would have played the condemnations over and over again on an endless loop until they got their man.
But this didn't happen in the case of David Norris.
Why not? Why wasn't he placed on the Carousel of Condemnation in the manner of a Kevin Myers, a Mary Ellen Synon or a Desmond Connell?
The reason is that he is a man of the left and that has to mean he is a person of essential goodness, a nice man with nice views, whereas those who are on the right hold horrible views and are quite likely to be horrible people as well.
So while a person of the left might make a mistake, the mistake will most likely arise from misplaced compassion and never from malice. Therefore, forgiveness and mercy must be extended.
Notably, even Ezra Nawi is starting to receive some favourable notices in our media despite his conviction for statutory rape because he is pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli and therefore he must be essentially good as well.
But because those on the right hold such malignant views, no forgiveness and no mercy must ever be shown.
When someone on the right steps out of line and says or does something wrong, it must be exploited to the full and they must be destroyed as an example to others.
In any case, it is only just punishment for holding such views.
We now live in a country where there is one rule for those on the left and a totally different one for those on the right.
David Norris's presidential bid might be in ruins, but because he is one of the 'good guys', he can rest assured that his political career will continue. He is a direct beneficiary of a double standard now so naked it has become a national problem.