Remind me... who the fascists are again here?
Published 14/02/2016 | 02:30
They can be funny things, words. As Orwell so presciently noted in 1984, once you control the language, you can shape and manipulate anything you want.
The word 'liberal', for instance, is something that has come to mean the exact opposite of what I always understood it to be.
After all, I always thought being a liberal essentially involved having a live-and-let-live attitude. It meant minding your own business and not bothering other people or demanding that they conform to your beliefs.
That, apparently, was entirely incorrect because the current incarnation of modern liberalism seems to be more concerned with banning things they don't like and shutting down any debate they find 'offensive'.
We witnessed a perfect example of that last Saturday when a planned public meeting for fringe anti-Islamic group Pegida was violently disrupted by gangs of self-professed 'anti-fascist' thugs who assaulted several alleged Pegida members and put at least one of them in hospital.
The brave street soldiers who used violence and thuggery to shut down an event they didn't like provided a worrying foretaste of what is to come in this country, as reasoned debate is replaced by the kind of empty sloganeering and bombastic threats that are more suited to the loonier fringes of Twitter than a mature society.
As they chased their victims down Talbot Street, attacking them in full view of horrified pedestrians, they undoubtedly felt that they were striking a blow for tolerance and harmony. Indeed, they were quick to take to social media to boast about their success, although I must admit that I was rather tickled when one of the thugs boasted that: "The fascists never even got past Burger King!"
London got the battle of Cable Street in 1936 when ordinary workers took to the streets to fight against Mosley's British Union of Fascists. In contrast, Dublin got the Battle of Burger King, where some hapless anti-immigration eejits were battered by a gang of thugs who were more interested in playing some perverse fantasy about standing up to fascist hordes when all they were really doing was acting like football hooligans.
Rather depressingly, plenty of people were prepared to cheer them on, and pretend that this was an act of working-class solidarity, à la London in '36.
But flip the scene - imagine a bunch of anti-racist campaigners tried to have a rally only for a bunch of neo-Nazi skinheads to come along and attack them.
There would be uproar at such a development and rightly so.
Yet anyone who pointed out that the anti-fascist mob were behaving in a rather, um, fascist way themselves was immediately accused of being a closet Nazi who wants to round up every Muslim and stick them into camps.
The people who were causing a threat to public security and individual safety weren't Pegida - they were the masked cowards of the anti-racist brigade.
For what it's worth, and I resent even having to point it out, I have no truck with Pegida. Nor do I agree with Donald Trump's plans to ban all Muslims from entering America - apart from being utterly unworkable, it tars individuals with a collective brush and that is the first step to State tyranny.
But that doesn't mean people are wrong to be concerned about the impact of mass Muslim immigration.
People can be concerned about sudden changes to social cohesion without being Nazis.
But in the blinkered, fanatical world of the anti-fascist fantasist, they are fighting Cable Street all over again.
If every Irish person who has concerns about the massive demographic changes happening in Europe is a bigot, then that means most Irish people are bigots.
One last thing - when you find yourself chanting 'no free speech for fascists' as you punch your opponent into silent submission then it is you, my friend, who are the fascist.
The truth is out there, says Gerry the carpenter
Aliens, comets, Munster and the 85th Quadrant. It happens to the best of us. You meet up for a few pints with your friends and, before you know it, you've lost a couple of hours and you're running late.
It's not a deliberate slight to your long suffering partner - honest! - but sometimes the conversation flows as smoothly as the Becks and you just lose track of time. Or you get abducted by aliens.
That was the unusual fate of Limerick carpenter Gerry Battles, who was abducted on his way home from his local boozer.
According to Gerry, the aliens had "lovely eyes", but they came with a warning - the world will end in 850 years when a comet the size of Munster hurtles out of the 85th Quadrant (nope, me neither) and completely destroys planet.
A few things spring to mind. Firstly, the people of Munster, particularly those down Cork direction, will probably take some perverse glee from the fact that the planet-killing comet has some connection to Munster.
The second is the line from the late, great Bill Hicks: "I'll tell you, too, what's starting to depress me about UFOs - they cross galaxies, or wherever they come from to visit us, and always end up in places like Fife, Alabama. Maybe these are not super-intelligent beings, man. Maybe they're like hillbilly aliens. Some intergalactic Joad family or something. 'Don't you all want to land in New York, or LA?' 'Nah, we just had a long trip, we gonna kick back and whittle some."
I'm actually a believer in alien life, I just don't believe they've ever visited earth
But if they did, I doubt that they'd bother kidnapping a carpenter from Limerick.
As we saw with Marco Rubio's disastrous performance in New Hampshire the other night, debates matter.
On that occasion - and, really, it was worth staying up late for - Rubio (above) was put on the ropes by Chris Christie and he was reduced to repeating the same talking point over and over.
As the previously controlled and measured young upstart flapped and began to look like a rabbit staring down the lights of a very large truck, it was a pertinent reminder of how important it is to see politicians being exposed in such a way. Ultimately, it strips away the writing staff employed by candidates and forces them to think on their feet.
That's why I fully support the Green Party and their legal action to be placed on next Monday's RTÉ leaders' debate.
RTÉ states that you need to have at least three sitting TDs and the Greens obviously don't. But even though the party is no longer a political force, the Green movement still has plenty of adherents in this country and excluding Eamon Ryan, as enjoyable as that may be, hardly seems fair.
You don't have to a mung bean-eating cliche to accept that the Greens should be present at the debate and the whole thing smacks of the establishment ganging together to keep the Greens out.
I must be getting soft in my old age...