Ian O'Doherty: As loath as I am to ban things. . .
Forget the pronouncements that we live in the Information Age, because surely this is the Grievance Age – an era when everybody has a grievance and everybody expects their grievance to take primacy over everybody else.
Which, ironically, only leads to a greater sense of, yes, grievance.
You don't even have to listen to radio phone-in shows, where the emotionally incontinent go to air their gripe to see this in action. Because while the hipsters on Twitter may sneer at the kind of folk who talk to Joe, they are no better.
That's why barely a day goes by without some confederacy of Twidiots banding together in their feeble-minded, hysterical masses to throw rocks at someone they don't like and demand, as has happened with the likes of Frankie Boyle, that he be sent to a cave in Scotland for the rest of his life and forced to read How To Be Sensitive, before he eventually loses the will to live and drowns himself in his own tears of regret and self recrimination.
The Irish have never been a particularly independent-minded people. Forget all the accepted wisdom about the Catholic Church and the damage they did to this country, or the free pass that comes with struggling to cope as a 'post-colonial society'.
The reality is that if Ireland had been a Baltic, rather than an Atlantic, state, we would have embraced communism with equal enthusiasm. And, as such, when people are left without a master to do their thinking for them, they'll find it somewhere else – usually in the dribbling, spittle-mired madness of the electronic asylum where it's not enough to dislike or disagree. No, you must demand it be banned.
So, as someone who is profoundly, fundamentally and philosophically enraged by the idea of one group banning something because they don't like it, may I now use this column to call for. . . something to be banned. Maybe.
Yeah, yeah, hardly consistent, I know. But when it comes to the DSPCA's call to restrict the online sale of dogs, you'd have to be either mad or actually involved in the online sale of animals to disagree. Which is where a spokesman for DoneDeal.ie comes in: "Calling on DoneDeal to cease all sales of animals on our site would actually drive the market underground and make it very difficult to track down unscrupulous dealers."
Which, when you look at it logically, is a truly Herculean piece of illogic – because the online sale of pets is the underground.
I know, we're hardly talking Silk Road levels of darknet evil-doing, but if any 'unscrupulous trader' – I can think of other phrases – wants to shift some bogus pedigree pups, then he knows that the internet is the easiest way to go – fewer restrictions, easy to fake papers and he or she is essentially untraceable. The proliferation of the disgusting practice of puppy farming, which causes death, disease and misery for thousands of dogs can be easily traced back to the ease with which one can now buy a mutt on the internet.
And when there's a demand there will be a supply – a law that applies to human nature as much as economics.
But if you want a dog – and everybody should want a dog, as long as they can give them the home they deserve – when did going to the pound become a bad thing? Is this a particularly obnoxious hangover from the boom years, when people wanted a dog that would match their new sofa? (That's not a joke, by the way, I know of a woman who brought her dog to a shelter because he got muck all over her new, cream sofa.)
As you read this, there are, literally, thousands of dogs ready and waiting and looking for an Irish home.
They're stuck in shelters, which do the best they can under almost intolerable conditions, but they need to be re-homed or, in many cases, they will be put to sleep. So, why, under those circumstances, would anybody be prepared to meet some dodgy bloke with some puppy-farmed dogs in the back of his car?
Maybe we don't have to ban this practice – if only because any time the State tries to enforce something they make a balls of it. Why not start to make such a practice completely socially unacceptable and, therefore, unprofitable?
There will always be, as they put it, 'unscrupulous traders'. Or, to put it another way, bastards.
But we don't have to make it so easy for them, do we?
DEMOCRACY AT WORK?
So, a pro-life group will not be recognised by the University of Limerick Student Council.
The group, UL Life, found their application refused after they lost the admission test by one vote, 22-21.
Interestingly, some of the students who didn't want UL Life on campus have rather smugly simpered that it was a democratic vote and therefore they are being undemocratic to moan about it.
Fair dues – let's see their respect for the democratic process the next time a bunch of conservative zealots take control of a student council and decide to ban the gay society from college grounds.
Or does democracy only work when you agree with the outcome?
NOW THAT'S JUST MEAN
Wandering through my local shop the other day (it's very exclusive, you wouldn't know it) I was struck by two items together on a shelf – a pregnancy test one side and beside it the condom display.
An interesting piece of shelf stacking – if you had bought this product first, you wouldn't have had to buy that product later.
Frankly, I'd imagine the last thing anybody needs when they're buying a pregger tester in the local shop is a box of Johnnies sitting beside them. . .